Friday, May 14, 2010

Unsustainability: The Kleenex Company

I am not the first blogger to mention this, but a big boo-hiss this week to the Kleenex company, which has taken paranoia to the extreme in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.  They have introduced -- wait for it -- disposable hand towels for the home.  Yes, that's right, if your bathroom is missing that "airport restroom" feel, you are now one step closer to the dream.

Don't get me wrong, we have a free marketplace, and companies have spent at least a century creating needs that they can fill with products.  In the early part of the 20th century, Listerine probably reached the pinnacle of this "emphasizing the negative" advertising technique with their "often a bridesmaid, never a bride" series.

(Source:  Better Homes and Gardens, 5/1/1936)

Poor Edna.  She's nearing the "tragic thirty mark" and yet here she is, catching that blasted bouquet again, with no hope of ever walking up the aisle unless she gets rid of that funky breath.

But at least bad breath is a real problem, albeit maybe not the absolute barrier to marriage that Listerine wanted to imply.  Germs, on the other hand, are the marketing gift that keeps on giving, because you never know if they are gone.  You can clean and sterilize all day, and there will still be germs.

Kleenex has capitalized on this, noting "Your hands are only as clean as the towel used to dry them."  Their new disposable towels give you that homey feel of living in a surgical suite, while allowing you to spend over $3.00 per box of 60 to fill your trash cans (and later the landfill) with unnecessary paper.

You know that spouse you cuddle with in bed at night?  You're killing him or her if you expect to share a washable hand towel.  And those kids you would do anything to protect?  Yep, you're killing them if you hand them a towel made of cloth; God only knows what germs could lurk there!

Here's a news flash, Kleenex:  Germs exist, and there are far more germs on the bathroom door knob than will ever be on a plain, old fashioned towel.  Our immune systems need exposure to germs to stay ready to fight other invaders.  And unless you are preparing to do surgery in your bathroom, there is no reason to find any merit in a disposable towel.

The Analysis

Fast:  No extra time for drying your hands, but Kleenex has found an extra item for me to check out, pay for, lug to the car and into the house, and then carry to the curb when used.  Thanks a heap for the extra chore.

Cheap:  Not even.  I can knit a hand towel for less than $2.00, or I can buy 60 of these for more than $3.00.  Assuming I wash my hands just four times a day, I will go through a box in about two weeks -- and I wash my hands more than that.  Realistically, a family of just two people could go through four boxes of these a month, which I'm sure is $12+ that the Kleenex company would love to have.

Good:  A big raspberry on this one.  So much waste of money, time, and resources!  Wash your hands with soap, dry them on a traditional towel, and, if you are worried, change your hand towels every day and wash a load once a week.  You'll be just as clean, and you'll be far ahead in saving resources.

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1 comment :

  1. Well to be a bit tactful, you know what you can wipe with that idea.