The dryer dilemma

| Senior Forum Editor

The only thing standing between me and total environmental activism is a foot-long grey box. The Devil’s Dryer, formally known as Xlerator Hand Dryers, are the bane of my existence. Don’t get me wrong; I love the environment. I recycle, I pick up litter, I take the time to sort my meals into the three bins in Bear’s Den, I nag my friends about turning their lights off—I love being green. I just hate those dryers.

I don’t know what’s worse: the weak, lukewarm breeze of that one type of dryer only found in amusement parks and old restaurants (which clearly are just draining energy, they’re that ineffective) or the ear drum-bursting gulf stream that comes from the Xlerator. One is the equivalent of asking someone to breathe on me as a supposedly effective method, the other is like stepping into a wind tunnel.

The Xlerator website boasts an “8-second dry time,” which, for me, is more of an “8-second stress time.” As an easily startled person who would rather not listen to loud noises when she doesn’t have to, washing my hands should not be as stressful as it is. Just walking past the Bear’s Den bathrooms makes me jump when they come on, let alone being in the same room as them.

While I in no way claim to know the intricacies of Washington University’s finances or the thinking behind implementing the hand dryers from hell, one solution to my worries is the use of compostable paper towels. In the average compost pile, the use of chlorine-free non-dyed cardboard products—like paper towels—can speed up the composting process. The alternation of nitrogen-rich greens and carbon-rich “browns” (paper products) adds to the complex process that breaks down food waste.

Some might say, “Aidan, why don’t you just not dry your hands?” Well, I don’t. I wash them, of course, because I’m a normal hygienic person, but right now I’m forced to vigorously shake them until they’re dry enough to leave the bathroom, or—God forbid—dry them on my pants. Please, Wash. U., don’t make me do this any longer: Let me have my paper towels back.