Go Green with Your Paper Towels: Choosing an Eco-Friendly Dispenser


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In an era of heightened environmental awareness, businesses and households alike are looking for simple yet impactful ways to be more sustainable. An often-overlooked area where we can make easy green upgrades is in our paper towel usage.

Americans use over 50 pounds of paper towels per person per year – resulting in massive environmental waste from sourcing materials to manufacturing to disposal. Switching to more eco-friendly paper towels and dispensers can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

The right dispenser minimizes paper usage while also being made of green materials and using little energy. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the top environmentally-friendly paper towel dispenser options and provide tips for choosing the best one for your needs and style.

Top 5 Eco-Friendly Paper Towel Dispensers

1. Simplehuman Touch-Free Paper Towel Dispenser

With its sleek and minimalist style, the touch-free paper towel dispenser by simplehuman integrates high-tech motion sensor activation with a smooth stainless steel design.

Key Features:

  • Touchless automatic dispensing
  • Fits standard folded paper towels
  • Stainless steel construction
  • Energy-efficient – 4 AA batteries last up to 3 years

Pros: Sophisticated look, touchless dispensing, durable materials

Cons: Higher price point, batteries required

Best Uses: Contemporary office or household kitchens and bathrooms

2. Umbra Venti Touchless Paper Towel Holder

For a more affordable touch-free dispenser option, the Venti by Umbra has a modern curved shape and matte finish.

Key Features:

  • Automatic touchless activation
  • Angled spout for easy paper access
  • Fingerprint resistant coating
  • Uses 4 AA batteries

Pros: Lower cost, stylish contemporary design, touchless

Cons: Plastic materials less durable than metal, batteries required

Best Uses: Home kitchens, bathrooms, offices. Good for rental properties.

3. Simple Ecology Manual Dispenser

With a classic style and all-metal body, this manual paper towel holder by Simple Ecology has a heritage look with green materials like recycled steel.

Key Features:

  • Vintage-inspired industrial design
  • Manual non-electric operation
  • Made from reused steel with recycled plastic accents
  • Holds standard folded paper towels

Pros: Eco-friendly materials, classic aesthetic, no batteries needed

Cons: Not touchless/automatic

Best Uses: Cafe, restaurant, bar, or household seeking vintage utilitarian look.

4. Elephant Paper Towel Dispenser

Kids and adults alike will delight in this whimsical Elephant Paper Towel Holder by deseo. The charming elephant shape is paired with eco-conscious materials.

Key Features:

  • Playful animal shape design
  • Constructed from recycled aluminum
  • Holds standard paper towel rolls
  • Modern matte finish

Pros: Adds fun and personality, made from recycled materials

Cons: Manual operation, unconventional shape may not suit all spaces

Best Uses: Kids bathrooms, play rooms, nurseries, classrooms, whimsical kitchens

5. Mind Reader BAMBOO-2 Bamboo Paper Towel Holder

For the ultimate in sustainability, this bamboo holder by Mind Reader uses fast-growing bamboo rather than plastic or metal. The neutral bamboo look complements any decor.

Key Features:

  • Sleek bamboo construction
  • Organic design
  • Holds paper towel rolls
  • Free standing or wall mountable

Pros: Made from renewable bamboo, simple design, organic look

Cons: Manual operation, limited towel roll capacity

Best Uses: Households that value sustainability. Pairs nicely with other bamboo and natural materials.

How to Choose the Right Eco-Friendly Paper Towel Dispenser

When selecting a greener paper towel dispenser option for your home or business, consider the following factors:

Usage Level and Traffic

For high-traffic areas like office kitchens, look for larger capacity dispensers that hold full paper towel rolls. Touchless dispensers are ideal for heavy usage to prevent spread of germs. Smaller reusable folded towel dispensers work well for lower traffic areas like residential bathrooms.

Available Space

Measure the area where you plan to place the dispenser. Look for compact models with smaller footprints if space is limited. Can it be mounted on a wall or does it need to sit on the counter?

Automatic vs Manual

Touchless automatic dispensers are more sanitary and reduce paper usage, but require batteries or electricity. Manual holds paper towels within easy reach while saving energy.

Paper Towel Compatibility

Know what size and type of paper towels you’ll use – standard folded towels or full rolls? Pick a dispenser that’s designed for the specific paper towel style.

Materials and Looks

Consider the dispenser’s materials and aesthetics. Long lasting powder coated steel or stainless steel tend to be most durable and environmentally-friendly. Bamboo and recycled materials are also green options.

Energy Efficiency

Auto dispensers with motion sensors, mechanical operation or solar/battery power use less energy than full electric models. Or opt for non-powered manual styles.

Cost vs Lifespan

Higher priced options like stainless steel often last longer term, while recycled plastic is cheaper but less durable. Find the right balance for your situation.

Style Matching

Choose a dispenser finish and style that coordinates well with your existing decor – brushed metal, matte white, glossy black, natural wood, etc.

FAQs About Eco-Friendly Paper Towel Dispensers

How much more do eco-friendly dispensers cost compared to standard models?

Eco-friendly options range from slightly above standard dispenser prices to 2-3 times more on average. Higher end stainless steel or sophisticated auto dispensers fall into the premium price bracket. Simple manual dispensers made of recycled/bamboo materials can be very affordable.

Do they actually help reduce paper waste?

Yes, studies show automatic and manual towel dispensers cut use by up to 40%. Touchless auto models prevent over-dispensing. And using reusable folded towels rather than full paper towel rolls also decreases usage.

What are the best eco-friendly materials to look for?

Stainless steel, powder coated steel, and aluminum have high recycled content and durability. Bamboo and recycled plastic are also good eco-friendly options. Wood is renewable but ensure it’s sustainably sourced.

Do they require special maintenance or cleaning?

Most eco-friendly dispensers are easy to clean with just soap and water, or disinfecting wipes. Automatic sensors may need occasional dusting. Make sure any drainage holes don’t get clogged.

Are they difficult to load and refill?

Refilling manual dispensers with folded or rolled towels is very simple and quick. Auto dispensers take a bit more effort to open, insert paper towels in the slot, and close up – but still easy overall.

How do I choose the right size dispenser for my needs?

Consider your daily paper towel usage (light, moderate or heavy). And if you’ll use folded reusable towels or full paper towel rolls. Then pick a dispenser with adequate capacity. For households, small to medium works well. Commercial spaces often require large capacity jumbo roll dispensers.

Do touchless automatic dispensers require batteries or electricity?

Most battery operated automatic dispensers use 4 AA batteries that last 6+ months. Some eco-friendly auto models have solar panels to charge small internal batteries or plug into an outlet.

What are the most durable and long-lasting eco-friendly dispenser brands?

Commercial grade brands like Simplehuman, Bobrick and Georgia Pacific are known for durability. For residential use, Umbra, Simple Ecology, and Mind Reader balance quality and affordability.

How can I determine the dispenser’s paper towel capacity?

Check the product details for the number of inches or sheets held. Standard bathroom dispensers hold 12” folded reusable towels. Full roll dispensers have 800+ sheet capacities. You can also measure your existing paper towels.

Are there options made from recycled materials?

Yes, many eco dispensers contain recycled plastic, steel, or aluminum. Simple Ecology makes dispensers from reused steel. And Renewz by Georgia Pacific makes models from recycled soap dispensers.

In Summary

Eco-friendly paper towel dispensers come in a wide range of styles, features and price points – making it easy to implement greener options.

For a touchless automatic dispenser with premium style, Simplehuman is a top choice. Umbra offers a similar touchless model at a more budget-friendly cost. The Simple Ecology manual dispenser is perfect for vintage industrial decor.

Whimsical spaces will enjoy the playful Elephant dispenser shape. And for pure sustainability, the bamboo holder from Mind Reader is ideal.

No matter your aesthetic or needs, utilizing greener paper towel dispensers is an impactful change that helps preserve the planet for future generations. The right dispenser makes reducing waste and environmental impact easy and enjoyable. Our detailed guide outlined the key factors to consider and top options available.

Now, simply choose the eco-friendly dispenser with features, look and price that aligns best. Then start actively decreasing your paper towel and energy usage. Small shifts in our homes and businesses collectively make massive global change possible.

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