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Continuing Student Priority Housing Application Period
Continuing Student Priority Housing Application Period

April 16-23, 2018
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Restorative Justice Program
Restorative Justice Program

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Living Paper Towel Free in the Residence Halls

Expanding on a successful program launched by Stevenson College students, in 2013-14 the campus eliminated the use of paper towels in bathrooms in college residence halls. This initiative was led by students committed to sustainability and making our colleges more green.

Avoiding Paper Towels Has a Positive Impact

Drying hands with towelPrior to eliminating their use, one-third (by volume) of landfill waste generated in the residence halls was paper towel waste. Since UC Santa Cruz shares the UC-wide goal of producing zero landfill waste by 2020, we have to start meeting these challenges by promoting more sustainable ways to live.



Along with a bath towel and other supplies, bring several hand towels with you when you arrive on campus. Unless you plan to do laundry very frequently, you'll want to bring several so as to always have a fresh hand towel available.


Paper Towel-Free FAQs

What about electric hand dryers?
Unfortunately, installing hand dryers is not an option because they are too noisy for residential buildings.


It seems inconvenient to have to remember to bring a hand towel to the bathroom.
While disposable products certainly represent a momentary convenience, it is strongly recommended that we all find ways to reduce our use of disposable items. You're probably already in the habit of bringing a towel when you're about to take a shower. Remembering to bring a hand towel will perhaps require developing a new habit, but it will be a great habit to adopt.


Where can I put my hand towel while in the bathroom?
Hooks are available near the sinks in shared bathrooms in the residence halls.


What if I forget to bring my hand towel with me to the bathroom?
Whether you bring your hand towel or not, one effective way of removing excess water from your hands is to vigorously shake them. Of course, in order to keep mirrors clean and counters and floors dry, please do your best to shake them into the sink or shower.


Won't it become easier to simply not wash my hands?
In the same way that not brushing your teeth would have disastrous consequences for your oral health, not washing your hands would greatly increase the likelihood of catching and spreading contagious illness. Not having paper towels available is in no way meant to discourage you from washing your hands.


Could hand sanitizer be provided?
Providing hand sanitizers in bathrooms might lead people to believe that they are a suitable alternative to washing your hands – and this is NOT the case. Properly wetting, soaping, washing, and drying your hands is the best means for keeping hands as germ-free as possible, and is more effective than sanitizers.


Aren’t paper towels the best thing for certain situations?
Emergency supplies of paper towels are available on an as-needed basis. If there is a spill — of something greasy for example, when a disposable, absorbent material like paper towels is recommended — your RA can provide them.