Unrolling the Truth about Paper Towel: Social, Financial and Environmental Incentives for Why Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS Should Install Electric Air Hand-Dryers in Future Buildings
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This paper aims to outline one way Dalhousie University can contribute to combating landfill waste. With the increasing global population and room for waste already becoming an issue, there is bound to be detrimental consequences in the near future. This study seeks to provide incentives for Dalhousie to implement a policy requiring integration of electric air hand-dryers in new buildings on campus. In doing so, there are many benefits: one benefit being annual financial savings associated with the switch. As the university advances their sustainable practices on campus, it sets an example and precedence for other institutions throughout the province. The study utilizes a mixed methods approach with qualitative and quantitative data to investigate the research question. For the qualitative approach, we conducted a survey targeting Studley campus student preferences for methods of hand-drying that would ultimately inform decisions made in the quantitative analysis. Results showed the majority of Studley campus students supported divestment from paper towel in newly constructed Dalhousie buildings, despite paper towel being the most preferred practice and paper towel perceptions as the most sanitary option amongst students. For the quantitative analysis, a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) was conducted demonstrating cost saving calculations in regards to paper towel versus Dyson Airblade hand-dryers, being implemented in newly constructed Dalhousie buildings. Two simulated scenarios (increase in student auxiliary fee of $2.00 and $0.50) using a fictional new building, similar in design to the Mona Campbell Building, calculated break-even costs for Dyson Airblades installation throughout the building. The CBA found Dalhousie would save roughly $2,081.25 annually by switching to the Dyson V Airblade, and could support implementation in new buildings by increasing auxiliary fees. Ultimately, the debate between paper towel and electric hand-dryers is controversial; however, there is an increase in literature concluding electric air hand-dryers have less of an environmental impact and have been enhanced to address sanitation concerns. By pledging to integrate electric air dryers in new buildings on campus, Dalhousie University can enhance overall sustainability practices on campus. Based on our study we recommend an intersectional approach by implementing electric air hand-dryers and keeping paper towel as an available option when constructing new buildings on Dalhousie campus.