In the restrooms at school, we have a choice of drying our hands with plain old paper towels or using the scary loud super duper air drying machines. As you might be able to guess, I use the paper towels.
I think--but I'm not sure--that this is the sounder environmental choice. Whichever way you look at it, trees are a more renewable resource than the electricity needed to move air at high speed through a small vent. The electricity is likely produced by coal, or maybe oil or natural gas, or maaaaybe wind power (we are in California, after all). But once you use up a lump of coal, it's gone. You can't regrow coal. You can, however, regrow trees. And, you can make paper towels from already-made paper via recycling. Though, there is electricity expended in the making of the paper towels (and in the recycling process).
So, what should I do? I think it's a toss-up in the end, and I prefer paper towels, so I've been using them. But I still wonder which is the better conservation choice. Any thoughts?