Fordham’s New “Airblades” Slash the Need for Paper Towels


The new Dyson “Airblade” claims to dry hands, but it does a better job of terrifying the user with its sound, which is akin to a jet taking off. (Photo Illustration by Katherine Fotinos/The Observer)


I just went to the funeral for an old friend, the paper towel. Yes, that’s right, the paper towel. Apparently, Fordham University has kicked the paper towel to the curb. I discovered this a few weeks ago when I had to use the bathrooms in the Lowenstein lobby.  I am not one to frequent public restrooms, but I was in between classes doing some reading in the cafeteria when nature called.

The new Dyson “Airblade” claims to dry hands, but it does a better job of terrifying the user with its sound, which is akin to a jet taking off. (Photo Illustration by Katherine Fotinos/The Observer)

I reluctantly went down to the lobby and, well, took care of business. I washed my hands like any normal, hygienic person would do, but when I went to dry my hands, a sudden wave of panic came over me. “Where are the paper towels?” I thought to myself. Instead of ripping a clean paper towel from a shiny, metal canister, I was now staring at two white, modern Dyson hand dryers. Yes, Dyson, the king of vacuums, makes hand dryers; I was thinking the exact same thing.

I stuck my hands in the machine and stood there for a good minute until my hands were completely dry. As the sophisticated, technologically-advanced vacuum was sucking up the water molecules from my hands, I read on the machine that these Dyson driers were more sanitary and environmentally friendly than other driers. “Now, how can that be?” I said out loud. The older woman washing her hands gave me a concerned look. “She will know what I’m talking about once she tries one of these things,” I said to myself.

Dyson can’t be more sanitary than other hand dryers. They all blow hot air. If anything, you will get germs from the Dyson because you have to stick your hands in it. I am sure people have touched it with their skin.

I left the bathroom practically enraged. With no friend to vent to, I did the next best thing, I tweeted my frustrations: “New fancy Dyson dryers in the Lowenstein Lobby bathroom. Gee those must’ve been pricey. Is this why tuition went up? #fordhamproblems.” Shortly after, I learned Fordham was replacing all of the paper towels with hand dryers, though not all necessarily the Dyson kind, in the rest of Lowenstein. (Well, at the very least in the ladies’ rooms. I can’t say what goes on in the men’s restrooms.) My exasperation grew into distress.

You’re telling me I have no option but to use the hand dryers that sound like a small jet taking off and leave my hands damp? Not only will my hands suffer but also what happens if I spill my coffee in class? I can’t pull a hand dryer off the wall and bring it back to class. I need the wonderful absorbency of a paper towel. Leaving spilt liquids on the floor is a hazard! And don’t tell me to use toilet paper. I’d have to use half a roll in order to clean up my spilt coffee. We need paper towels.

Because I couldn’t let this go, I had to do some research. I paid a visit to Dyson’s website. They call their hand dryers the “airblade.” That is not name you want to give to a product that dries hands. I think it is time to get a new marketing staff. I found that the white airblade could cost anywhere from $900 to $1,000. I guess you could call it the Cadillac of hand dryers.

There are plenty of other hand dryers that cost a mere $200 to $400. Granted it’s a one-time cost to buy and install a hand dryer, compared to purchasing multiple packs of paper towels per year. I get it. However, don’t disparage my friend the paper towel, who is quite efficient. I read on Dyson’s website that their eco-friendly dryers will efficiently dry my hands in 12 seconds. If Dyson’s definition of efficient is “wet hands,” then that is what 12 seconds will get you.

Hand dryers may be more eco-friendly, but paper towels can be, too. There are such things as biodegradable paper towels that are made from recycled products. That helps the environment as well.

I think it is safe to say that we cannot rely entirely on technology. The hand driers will break at some point. It happens. Are we just supposed to walk around with sopping wet hands?

Change is hard to accept. I guess in the long run, Fordham’s obsession with going green will eventually pay off.  Still, that initial $2,000 investment bothers me.  Perhaps Fordham University may pass some of its savings onto its students in the form of additional financial aid.

Maybe Fordham University is trying to make a statement to people who use the lobby bathrooms. Personally, I don’t think people care what brand name is drying their hands; they just want to use the bathroom. They’re not checking the toilets and sinks to make sure they are made by Kohler.

Toilet paper will be next. You laugh! Watch. The next time I walk into the bathroom, there will be newly installed toilets that can blow the hot air up, well, you know where.