Join us for the 10th Annual 4 Miles 4 Water on June 10th, 2023 – Register Today!

Week 12: #Waves4Change 2020 Sustainability Challenge – Reduce Paper Towel Usage

Why Take This Challenge?

More than 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used each year in the USA, and we by far consume the most paper towels worldwide. To make one ton of paper towels 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water are polluted. Plus, paper towels aren’t recyclable.


The Top Five Countries by Overall Spending on Paper Towels
Total U.S. dollars spent on paper towels in 2017, in billions



How Does This Challenge Benefit Me?

Think about all of the money you will save by not buying all those paper towels – the average American spends $17.61 on a pack of paper towels! If every household in the US cut their paper towel usage down by just one less 70-sheet roll of paper towels, that would save 544,000 trees each year and 640,000,000 gallons of water.


What if I Already Do This?

We challenge you to bring a reusable hand towel with you! Stash a small reusable towel in your purse or pocket (a handkerchief works well) and utilize this after handwashing in a public restroom rather than a paper towel.


Prep This Weekend for a More Sustainable Week

There are a few easily available ways to keep your paper towel usage down – keep reusable/washable towels handy at home, air dry, use the electric hand-dryer in public, or if you have to use a paper towel – try shaking your hands out before and grabbing only one paper towel! Need some inspiration on how to use only one paper towel? Check out Joe Smith’s shake, shake, fold method:

If you find you are in a situation where you must use paper towels, be conscious on the amount you are using. A great way to do this is to track your paper towel use for one week, making sure to include both actions at home and work. Then, try to reduce that number by 25% the following week. That means if you’re like the average person using four paper towels to dry your hands, try to reduce it to three. From there, go down to one.

Stock your home (and even your purse, pocket and car) with reusable absorbent towels! They absorb better than paper towels, they cost less, and they’re better for the environment. It may still make sense to keep a roll of paper towels around for some limited uses like cleaning up hazardous liquids or animal accidents, but for most everyday cleaning jobs, reusable cloths are more absorbent and pick up much better!


Here are some alternatives:


Colorful Bar Towels –
2 Ply Cotton Paperless Towels –
Bamboo Paperless Towels –

Taking this challenge? Spread the word and use the hashtag #Waves4Change so we can change the world together