The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 47.0°F | Light Rain

A tree stump sits in front the Student Center last year. Creating one ton of paper towels requires the destruction of 17 trees, according to NextSustain.

Article Tools

Next House wrapped up in bathroom paper towel debate

After students petitioned against paper towels in bathrooms, Next House is tearing up plans to install dispensers over spring break.

The dormitory has not had paper towels in its bathrooms for years, but when its new house manager announced they would be rolled out soon, a student group called NextSustain argued that the environmental impact would not be worth it.

“Paper towels often account for 20–40% of the waste volume of dorms that have them,” the group’s petition said, citing The New York Times.

Other students had previously asked for the dispensers, according to Next House’s area director, Jimmy Doan, who notified students Wednesday that the project would be held off in light of the petition.

“As a house team, we have a responsibility to hear from all students on this issue,” he wrote. “A meeting will be held after Spring Break to openly share your concerns and thoughts on this topic.”

Student leaders discussed Sunday whether people haven’t been washing their hands enough because of the lack of paper towels, according to meeting minutes of the Next House Executive Board. They also discussed whether janitors would refill dispensers often enough, and whether the dispensers would have an effect on total waste at all given that some students dry their hands on their own paper towels anyway.

“We support a counterproposal for hooks in the bathrooms so that people can hang their own hand towels if they want to,” NextSustain wrote to residents.

The issue also sparked a debate on the next-forum mailing list about transparency and student involvement in decision-making processes.

T.F.P. is a new series about, well, T.F.P. Forward your mailing list dramas to news@tech.mit.edu.

—Leon Lin