Thursday, May 23, 2013

UCSC to Go Paper Towel-Free in Dorms Next Year

UC Santa Cruz is going paper towel-free in the residence halls next year after a successful pilot program at Stevenson College this year. Following years of student interest in this project and discussions with administrators and staff all over campus in the past year, the University has decided that in order to support our goals of zero waste by 2020 and to promote more sustainable behaviors among students in our residence halls, paper towels will no longer be provided for drying hands in shared residential restrooms. After all, 34% -- by volume -- of the waste coming out of the residence halls is paper towels. That's a lot of waste that can easily be reduced by simply removing the towels from these restrooms.

Instead of providing wasteful paper towels, students will be asked to bring a supply of reusable cloth hand towels to school with them in the fall, just as they will bring their own reusable bath towel and other supplies. Students, if you'll be living in the residence halls next year, don't forget to pack your own reusable hand towels!

This is an exciting accomplishment that not only makes sense (10 years ago, there weren't paper towels in the residence halls, anyway), but it shows that student-initiated projects can really achieve campus-wide change. It sometimes takes time and conversations with many different stakeholders, but it is possible to see a sustainability vision for the campus come to fruition.

Congratulations to everyone who has been working on this project, including Path to A GreenerStevenson, the Sustainability Office Zero Waste Team, and many other students, staff, andadministrators who made this possible. Special thanks to Sue Mathews, the Associate Vice Chancellor in Colleges Housing and Educational Services for being the institutional leader who helped make this project a reality.

Read about the history of this project in Stevenson College and why the campus is choosing to remove paper towels.


Lisa Dodd said...

You have shared very unique idea. I love this idea, Infect this new for me. It's great Post and students done such excellent job.
Regards: Lisa Dodd

Nick Cale said...

A step too far. Hand towels will breed bacteria :) Kids head back home without fingers.

Melissa Ott said...

Hi Nick, Thanks for your comment. To clarify, students use their own hand towels and are expected to wash them, just as they do with their shower towels. We do not provide communal hand towels. Now that it's been a few years since we implemented this campuswide, students don't really know the difference and know to bring their hand towel with them. Thanks!