The following blog post was written by Mary Wallace, the co-founder of PeopleTowels. Mary's company is committed to helping people reduce their impact on the environment by cutting back on paper towel usage. PeopleTowels were featured in the October Ecocentric Mom box and the October Ecocentric Pregnancy Box. For a limited time, readers can save 10% on their PeopleTowels order using code ECOMOM15.
An idea inspired by Japanese eco-habits
The idea for PeopleTowels started on my first visit to Japan in 1998. Upon my arrival, my daughter gave me a reusable water bottle, a cloth bag, and a set of hand towels. She told me that these were all necessities for my stay. I really didn’t understand the whole “towel” thing until my first visit to a public restroom. There were no paper towels or hand dryers anywhere.
During my visit, I quickly noticed that everyone in Japan -- men, women, and children, young and old -- carried a hand towel. Using a personal hand towel was just a part of everyday life, whether at work, school, or play. At the Japanese public school that my grandchildren attended, reusable hand towels were on the required supply list along with pencils, paper and room shoes.
I noticed in the U.S. that segments of the population were beginning to carry other reusables, like water bottles and shopping bags. I liked the concept of carrying a hand towel to reduce paper towel waste and thought it would be a good addition to these other eco-habits™. I shared this with my business colleague, Linda Lannon, and together, fueled by our passion for the environment, we launched PeopleTowels in 2009.
Over the past six years, we have learned a lot from our customers. Here are some thoughts that moms have shared:
“Using a PeopleTowel in a public restroom improves the experience greatly and makes us feel much more civilized than using rough paper towels and the cloth is kinder to our hands.” - Devra, Mom of 3
“This is such a great product! I have a 2 year old with autism and certain sounds make her distraught. When we are in a public bathroom with air dryers, it’s instant freak out/melt downtime. We love always being able to towel dry and keep one in her diaper bag, my purse and in the car. It’s good for her sense of security, it’s good for my sense of sanity and it’s good for the earth.” - Julie, Mom
Other Ways to Use your PeopleTowels
PeopleTowels’ primary use is a reusable, on-the-go alternative to paper towels to dry your hands after washing them. However, moms in particular have found creative ways to expand their use. Here are some of the many uses they have shared with us.
- Get it damp and use it to clean sticky fingers and faces
- Press it on a scraped knee to stop the bleeding
- Wipe up spills in the car
- Catch that runny nose
- Tuck it under the chin for an emergency bib
A 13-Billion-Pound Impact
Each year, Americans send a staggering 13 billion pounds of paper towel waste to landfills – all for a product that is used for seconds and tossed away. Do the majority of Americans have what it takes to truly adopt a sustainable lifestyle and kick the paper towel habit? At PeopleTowels, we believe they do, especially moms who will drive this change so their children and future generations will grow up on a healthier planet unburdened by paper towel waste. PeopleTowels estimates that by switching to a PeopleTowel habit for one year, you can halve a tree and reduce landfill waste by 23 lbs!
At Ecocentric Mom, we love discovering products that require a small change in behavior to make a huge collective impact. We believe it's not about requiring every mom -- and every household -- to make drastic changes (although some will, and that's wonderful too!) to reduce our impact on the environment. A small change like switching to PeopleTowels, even occasionally, can add up to make a huge difference. This is a great lesson to learn from another culture, and one we hope becomes commonplace here as well.
What about you? Would you be willing to carry a reusable towel in your purse to cut back on your eco-footprint? Already a user of PeopleTowels? Let us know about it!
Want to discover other creative products for making small but important changes in your daily routine? Be sure to sign up for our mailing list or join Ecocentric Mom today.