Most City offices closed Wednesday, June 19, to observe Juneteenth

The City of Portland recognizes Juneteenth as a formal day of remembrance to honor Black American history and the end of slavery in the United States. Learn about Juneteenth.

Hand Dryers instead of Paper Towels


Which hand drying system is the best for the environment?

Note: Paper towels are not recyclable or compostable at Portland businesses; they must go into the trash. 

Electric hand-dryers

High speed electric hand dryers are generally the best environmental option for hand drying.

Use renewable energy: Every Portland utility offers a renewable energy program. If you don’t pay your utility bills directly, ask your property manager to consider purchasing it.

When switching to an electric hand dryer, try to install the dryer in the same spot paper towels used to be. This will reduce confusion and mimic what people are used to.

You may also want to install “sanitary door opener” devices that allow people to open the door with their arm or foot (for people who previously used a paper towel when touching the bathroom door handle).

Paper towels

Encourage people to use only one paper towel

This 4 ½ minute TED Talk explains how to dry your hands with just one paper towel using the “shake and fold” method:

Shake and Fold method:

  1. Shake: Wash, then shake excess water off your hands, about 10 times.
  2. Fold: Take one paper towel. Fold it in half. Use it to dry both your hands.

Share this video with your colleagues by email or at a staff meeting. Then, print signs to post on the paper towel dispensers.

Shorten the length of paper towel dispensed

If your workplace uses an automatic paper towel dispenser, consider adjusting the settings so a shorter length of paper towel is dispensed. The dispenser is opened with a key and there are usually three settings to choose from: short, medium and long.

Buy paper towels made with high recycled content

There are many options on the market for recycled content paper. The higher the percentage of recycled content the better, and 100% post-consumer recycled content is best.