• Heading Towards Zero Waste - Paper vs Cloth Towels

    19 Mar 2017 | News | jnsyoga
  • In 2014 JNS set a goal of reaching zero waste.  After auditing our waste we realized the majority of what we sent to the landfill was paper towels.

    Goal - Tackle the Worst First - Reduce Paper Towel Consumption

  • We decided to look at what the impact would be if we switched from paper towels to cloth towels for drying hands.   One concern was if washing cloth towels would have a worse impact than using 100% recycled paper towels.  So we crunched the numbers, using the embodied energy of 100% recycled paper towels and the actual measured energy and water consumption of the washing machine we use.  We can determined washing cloths in cold water and hang drying should only have 1/4 of the greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and shipping paper towels.  Note that we couldn't accurately estimate the embodied energy of the manufacturing/shipping of the cloth towels and did not include those emissions in the calculations.  That embodied energy of the towels will add to the impact but only needs to be done once for the life of the towel instead of continually with every roll of paper towel.  Also using a clothes dryer will drastically increase the environmental impact of cloth towels and we have committed to hang drying the cloth towels.  

  • We looked at our options for cloth towels and ideally wished we could have acquired pre-loved towels but could not find an appropriate source.   It was decided to purchase new towels made from bamboo, a rapidly renewable resource.  In early 2015 we gave the option of using paper or cloth towels to dry hands.   

  • As a result of having cloth towels our waste has been reduced by 44% !  Our waste has since levelled out and the majority of our waste is still paper towels.  The next logical step in waste reduction is to switch to only offering cloth towels for drying hands and look at the feasibility and impact of adding hand dryers.