February 8, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 40°F


Bathrooms become more green

Ithaca College is keeping it clean with new, cheaper and environmentally friendly toilet paper and paper towels across campus.

Lisa Belokur, director of facilities services, said the change comes after the college’s contract expired with Wausau Paper, which produces Bay West dispensers. The new contract with SCA Tissue, Inc., which produces the new Tork brand dispenser, will help cut costs and provide a more sustainable paper alternative, she said.

BELOKUR said new towels are more sustainable and cost less.

According to the Tork website, the new toilet paper is made from 100 percent recycled paper. The paper towels range from 100 percent recycled fiber to a minimum of 40 percent post-consumer fiber.

Belokur said there are more options for 100 percent recycled toilet paper and towels than when the college chose a Bay West brand in 2004. She said the office tried a few companies but chose Tork based on environmental impact criteria and a low cost quote from a local supplier.

“We used the sustainable model,” she said. “But really it was about not just how green the product is, but also from a labor stand point — are we going to need to refill it as often?”

Last year, the Office of Facilities Services spent approximately $120,000 on paper refills. The office projected a 5 percent decrease in purchasing costs after the switch. That percentage may change once the office determines the paper needs for bathrooms in the Athletic and Events Center, which will be completed next academic year.

Belokur said waste will be minimal because the office plans to let the old paper run out before installing the new dispensers. She said no dispensers will be thrown away because the companies loan them to the college and reuse them once the contract expires.

“We’re doing the most responsible thing we can by purchasing 100 percent recycled content paper towels, but in the long run when you use that paper towel, it’s still going to go into the waste stream,” she said.

Administrative and academic buildings were the first to receive the new dispensers this fall. The remaining installations will continue over the next few months.

In their search Belokur said they specifically excluded dispensers that used electricity. For this same reason, Belokur said they also opted for paper towels over hand dryers.

“Hand dryers are in various locations around campus,” Belokur said. “But in some areas the wiring is not appropriate, and the Health Center prefers paper towels.”

Karin Wikoff, electronic and technical services librarian, said the bathrooms in the library are cleaner now that the new dispensers have been installed.

“There was always a lot of mess in the bathrooms,” she said. “Since they’ve installed the new dispensers — with a slightly better quality of paper — that has greatly decreased, which I am very glad to see.”

Sophomore LeeAnn Hill, an environmental studies major and resident of the Sustainably Conscious Living Community, said she uses a non-disposable towel for drying her hands instead of paper towels. Hill said she thought that choosing the most sustainable option was a step in the right direction for the college.

“This is the best way that they could probably provide convenience for students and also be the most sanitary,” she said.

Belokur said the selection and installation process involved a great deal of research and planning, but she thinks the college community will appreciate the change.

“I think they’re going to grab these paper towels and realize that this is a better quality [product],” she said. “Actually, they’re getting better quality for less money.”