What is the most eco-friendly way to dry hands?
The COVID-19 crisis has emphasised the importance of regular and sufficient handwashing. However, the way you dry your hands is also important. Incorrect hand drying methods can re-contaminate your hands, encourage the spread of viruses and bacteria, and cause illness.
However, some methods of hand drying, especially those that require electricity, prompt environmental concerns. This raises the question – what is the most eco-friendly way to dry your hands?
Methods of hand drying
Hot air dryers
Hot air dryers are the most common type of air dryers. They contain an internal fan which blows across a heating element and onto your hands. Though the amount of energy needed to power a hot air dryer will vary between models, hot air dryers are considered the least environmentally friendly way to dry hands. Each time you push a button on a hot air dryer, it releases between 20 and 80 grams of carbon dioxide, or equivalent, into the atmosphere.
Jet air dryers
Jet air dryers are a more recent innovation. Instead of using hot air, jet air dryers release cool air at ultra-high speeds, which removes water droplets from your hands. They use less electricity than hot air dryers, and often have a higher energy efficiency rating. However, it is important to remember that they still use a substantial amount of energy.
Hand towels are generally the most sustainable option. They can be reused over and over and can be washed when needed. They can also be made of environmentally friendly material, such as bamboo, which can be recycled once the towel becomes damaged. However, it is important to remember that using the same hand towel for too long can become a health hazard, as bacteria thrives in damp environments. Regular washing is key to keeping your hand towels hygienic.
Which is the most eco-friendly option?
Overall, most experts agree that hand towels are the most environmentally friendly way to dry hands. They are versatile, don’t require electricity, and can easily be repurposed when they reach the end of their life. However, keeping hand towels clean is essential to maintaining hygiene and discouraging bacterial growth.
If towel-drying isn’t an option for you, the next-best option would be using a jet air dryer. These use far less electricity than traditional hot air dryers, and don’t contribute to landfill like paper towels.
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