The Project that Stuck

By Priya Macwan

Raise your hand if you use more than one paper towel to dry your hands. If your hand is raised, you are contributing to the tons of paper towel waste created in a single day which in turn contributes to the CO2 released into the air. (Even if you use just one, you are contributing too!) The Hospital Sustainability Action Research Team is collecting data from two restrooms at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center, and the amount of paper towel waste that can be found in a single hour is astounding.

After three weeks of a preliminary waste audit, our team applied the “These Come From Trees” stickers onto the paper towel dispensers in the men’s restroom and unisex restroom this week, in hopes that signage can make a difference. However, the day to day variance in janitor collection times and amount of visitors likely has made a dent in the data. In other words, it’s hard to say whether the stickers have in fact made a huge difference so far. However, our hope is not just that we see a decrease in paper towel waste but that we do something with the waste that is created. We would like to look into the possibility of composting paper towel waste at the hospital. Additionally, last year’s team suggested replacing the outdated hand dryers in the adjacent medical building with more efficient ones, but this was not economically feasible. Perhaps we can find a less expensive hand dryer for the RRMC. “These come from trees” is a nice subtle reminder, but having other options, if possible, wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

In other news, the occupancy sensor is still keeping tally of all who walk below it, and the education module is in the editing process. We are coming ever so close to the end of the year and will soon be bringing our projects to a close, hoping to leave a legacy with the hospital and future Hospital Sustainability teams.