How to dry your hands and save the planet


Joe Smith has an interesting calling. The Oregon resident is an advocate for efficient use of paper towels.

This seems like a crazy avocation but he makes the point that millions of pounds of paper towels are in the balance.

His observation is that when people dry their hands in public restrooms they use several paper towels.

He developed a technique to dry your hands with 1 paper towel which would save the millions of pounds of paper towels and trees!

He gave a short talk about his technique on TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design), a fascinating resource on the Internet and well worth frequent visits, is a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, which was formed to disseminate "ideas worth spreading."

TED was founded in 1984 as a one-off event. Since then it has morphed into a rock star website of thousands of short videos (4 to 18 minutes) for people interested in cool ideas about technology, entertainment and design.

I want to pass along what I learned from Joe Smith about paper towels. I tested this technique in the trenches since I wash my hands all the time in public bathrooms when I travel for work. It works great (even in Asia, Australia and Alabama).

The technique has 3 parts: wash, shake and fold.

1. Wash your hands.

2. Shake off the excess water 10 to 12 times.

3. Use 1 paper towel and always fold it in half (the thickness helps its absorbency).

It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of paper towel you use.

That’s it. It gets your hands dry with 1 towel.

To see Smith’s on the efficient use of paper towels, visit