Which does your library restroom have? My library restroom has paper towels only. Several times a day I have to take paper towels (which I’m not sure are even made of recycled paper) to dry my hands and throw in the trash. I began to follow the the lead of a fellow “green” librarian who brings her own hand towel with her every time she heads to the restroom. (if I don’t choose to dry them on my jeans).
But which is really more environmentally friendly – electric or paper? The GreenStrides blog I read says “95% of the time the electric hand dryer will be the greener choice.” More information on this topic can be found at this Slate’s Green Lantern site. They say the electric hand dryers is better “not because they necessarily prevent deforestation, but because they actually use less energy once everything’s taken into account.” They take into account, how long the dryer typically lasts, how much energy is used when on and in standby, and how long it’s used by someone to get their hands dry. It becomes more complex when you factor in how your local power grid generates electricity. Then there is the complexity of how the paper towels are produced – from the trees themselves to producing the towels to transportation to your library … and are they recycled products? (yet, only to be thrown away and not recycled)
In the end they confirm majority of times the hand dryer is a better choice, though not completely green in itself. The greenest method – deal with damp pants or bring your own hand towel.