I'm going to start a series, hopefully weekly, of conservation thoughts. This one actually has two subjects.
Subject one is coffee stirrers. I was at a big meeting this past weekend, where the coffee breaks had lots of wooden stirrers. It occurred to me that the stirring ends of the stirrers never touch anything except coffee or hot water/tea, and that the hot water would probably kill a lot of bacteria (not sure about viruses) anyway. So the sole reason to use use-once stirrers is that fingers touch the other end.
Couldn't we come up with a mini-hand held stirrer, maybe? Just put the mixing end of the stirrer into the cup and let it spin the coffee, cream, and sugar for a few seconds. Put a little anti-bacterial goo on the handle and save a lot of wood. (And I have to wonder how much wood gets turned into use-once stirrers. Maybe they could at least make biochar out of it.)
Subject two is paper towels. A lot of these automatic paper towel dispensers provide a paper towel of a certain length. Most of the time this length is not sufficient to adequately dry a pair of hands. If the towels could be made more absorbent, I suspect that ultimately less paper would get used for hand drying.
Those electric dryers... rarely work, and usually men end up wiping their hands on their slacks (if they actually washed their hands after excretions). I don't know what women do. I've occasionally encountered electric dryers with a particularly high througflow, and these actually do a decent job of hand-drying. But given the amount of air they move, I imagine that they're energy hogs.
I'd be interested in an energy breakdown on paper vs. electric. If paper towels for hand-drying were made of recycled content, then it wouldn't seem so wasteful. But I don't know how much recycled content is in most paper towels.
Subject for research... when my busyness ebbs.
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