Note: Shake and Fold was going around the internet a month or so ago, and I’d like to revisit it now to keep it on your mind.
We’re not alone in this world.
In fact, I think it is unlikely that a person could even survive being totally alone. We depend on others for almost everything. Look around right now and list everything you see that you made by yourself, that you are solely responsible for. Even if you believe you painted that picture on the wall, the fact remains that someone made the paint, the brushes, the canvas, the hangers, and so on. If everything we do depends on others, all of us together are always mutually interdependent. Even if we make everything, where did the stuff come from that we used to make what we wanted?

Therefore, what I do impacts everyone else, and vice versa.

If I waste something, even something seemingly insignificant, it will have an impact. At the next level, if many of us waste something, the overall impact can even be monumental. Take paper towels, for example. American use approximately thirteen billion pounds each year. Mr. J.P Joe Smith has calculated that if every person reduced their use of paper towels by one sheet per day, we could save 571,230,000 pounds of paper. Mr. Smith offers a simple plan for accomplishing the savings. He refers to it as “Shake and Fold.” and you can watch a neat little video about it at (4 minutes and 28 seconds long).

There are numerous paper towels available, ranging from the tri-fold to the ones that pop out automatically when we wave our hand in front of a sensor. Regardless of the kind of towel, Smith says we only need one, provided we approach hand drying properly.

Start by washing your hands – and sing the full “Happy Birthday” song while scrubbing, that assures that you’re clean. Then SHAKE. Shake your hands over the bowl Twelve Times. Why twelve? Watch the video. Joe Smith offers a few reasons.

Then, take a single sheet of paper towel and Fold it in half. Smith says this works because of something he refers to as “interstitial suspension”. He didn’t explain and I don’t think it’s important. The fact remains that folding the towel helps it absorb more water, more quickly – even for the recycled paper towels that are often not as absorbent. Dry the hands completely with the single folded towel and then drop it in the trash can.

You have just successfully dried your hands with one paper towel and you are part of the solution – a single part, though, of saving 571,230,000 pounds of paper.

One person commented on the video that he would never again use more than a single sheet of paper towel for drying his hands. I have the same feeling. What about you? At least give it a try.

Be part of a solution to a large shared problem – waste.