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TSG to replace paper towels throughout Main Campus

The sustainability task force is planning to install hand-dryers around campus.

Temple Student Government plans to remove paper towel dispensers and old hand-dryers from all Main Campus buildings as early as Summer 2017.

A student-led sustainability task force met on Nov. 9 and inspected Paley Library, Tuttleman Learning Center and the Student Center to see what most needed to be replaced. There are a total of 55 paper towel dispensers and eight old hand dryers that TSG plans to remove.

“[Paper towels] are a very noticeable waste,” said Aaron Weckstein, TSG’s director of grounds and sustainability. “You could see how much paper towel waste gets amassed in the trash cans every day when you walk in the bathroom.”

Though the sustainability task force is working with the Office of Sustainability, “it’s more of the students who wanted to get this done,” Weckstein said. “We wanted to make sure we had as much student involvement as possible.”

Newer buildings on campus, like the Science Education and Research Center, do not have any paper towel dispensers in their bathrooms.

“I’m personally passionate about sustainability,” said Mattie Cohen, a senior geography and urban studies and Spanish major and a member of the task force.

“I’m looking at energy policy and urban growth [in my classes] … so with these systems we already have built, we need to do our best to make them more green,” Cohen said.

Weckstein said the paper towel dispensers will be replaced with automatic hand-dryers, which are more efficient and sanitary and create less waste, he said.

Weckstein and Kathleen Grady, Temple’s director of sustainability, said they did not know how much an automatic hand-dryer costs.

Weckstein said he knows TSG has the budget to replace dispensers with hand-dryers.

“The [total] cost will be dramatically decreased, if we’re replacing old dryers with the new ones,” Weckstein said. “A good thing about the [newer hand dryers] is that they are very easy to take care of and they don’t require a lot of maintenance.”

Weckstein said the switch to hand-dryers would reduce paper towel waste, bring Temple closer to carbon neutrality and save time and energy spent by facility staff.

According to a study by the University of Buffalo, Dyson Airblade dryers produce 42 percent less carbon dioxide than paper towels. Airblades are in some university buildings, like the TECH Center.

“We will also need to gain approval for the hand dryers from the building management for each proposed location,” Grady wrote in an email.

“It affects me personally in the way I think it affects everyone else personally,” said Alex Mark, a freshman global studies major in the task force. “It has consequences in the long term with these environmental issues.”

“I think we should switch because it’s such a small thing to do,” said Caroline Muehlbronner, a freshman media studies and production major and a member of the task force. “In a progressing world where resources are getting scarcer and scarcer, it’s nice to know that there are so many other options.”

“It’s really a win-win for everyone,” Weckstein said.

Francesca Furey can be reached at francesca.furey@temple.edu.

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