by Adam Juda on Monday, December 8, 2014
Many companies have discovered that they can save tons of money by switching their washrooms from paper towels to hot air dryers.
The hot air units save money by:
- Eliminating waste disposal costs
- Eliminating cost of disposable towels
- Reducing staffing costs for bathroom maintenance
There's just one problem. Most patrons do not like them. So what's a profit-seeking business to do? Change public opinion of course!
Take a look at the sign I saw recently.
This company tried to convince customers to internalize the environmental costs of using traditional paper towels. In a sense the company said "paper towels are bad for the environment, so please use the hand dryers instead."
I doubt that this sign was effective. The problem is that a reader would not be able to make the connection between the use of a single paper towel and the damage to the environment. Sure, he would know what a ton (2,000 lbs.) might do to the environment, but how many paper towels are in a ton? Probably quite a few.
In fact, the large referenced weight does nothing but make the image of a single paper towel seem insignificant by comparison. The average reader would probably consider the effects of a single towel to be unworthy of further thought.
A sign that could directly connect the harm that is done by a single paper towel to the environment would be far more meaningful. If the effects are not measurable in a meaningful way, the building owners should rely on a different form of messaging in order to get their message across. A simple image of a polluted area with a message that "every paper towel we use brings this image closer to reality" would be much more vivid and meaningful.