Joe Smith

How to use a paper towel

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Five hundred seventy-one million two hundred thirty thousand pounds of paper towels are used by Americans every year. If we could — correction, wrong figure — 13 billion used every year. If we could reduce the usage of paper towels, one paper towel per person per day, 571,230,000 pounds of paper not used. We can do that.


Now there are all kinds of paper towel dispensers. There's the tri-fold. People typically take two or three. There's the one that cuts it, that you have to tear off. People go one, two, three, four, tear. This much, right? There's the one that cuts itself. People go, one, two, three, four. Or there's the same thing, but recycled paper, you have to get five of those because they're not as absorbent, of course.


The fact is, you can do it all with one towel. The key, two words: This half of the room, your word is "shake." Let's hear it. Shake. Louder.


Audience: Shake.


Joe Smith: Your word is "fold."


Audience: Fold.


JS: Again.


Audience: Fold. JS: Really loud.


Audience: Shake. Fold.


JS: OK. Wet hands. Shake — one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12. Why 12? Twelve apostles, twelve tribes, twelve zodiac signs, twelve months. The one I like the best: It's the biggest number with one syllable.




Tri-fold. Fold ... Dry.




Audience: Shake.




JS: Cuts itself. Fold. The fold is important because it allows interstitial suspension. You don't have to remember that part, but trust me.




Audience: Shake. Fold.


JS: Cuts itself. You know the funny thing is, I get my hands drier than people do with three or four, because they can't get in between the cracks. If you think this isn't as good...


Audience: Shake. Fold.


JS: Now, there's now a real fancy invention, it's the one where you wave your hand and it kicks it out. It's way too big a towel. Let me tell you a secret. If you're really quick, if you're really quick — and I can prove this — this is half a towel from the dispenser in this building. How? As soon as it starts, you just tear it off. It's smart enough to stop. And you get half a towel.


Audience: Shake. Fold.


JS: Now, let's all say it together. Shake. Fold. You will for the rest of your life remember those words every time you pick up a paper towel. And remember, one towel per person for one year — 571,230,000 pounds of paper. No small thing. And next year, toilet paper.



You use paper towels to dry your hands every day, but chances are, you're doing it wrong. In this enlightening and funny short talk, Joe Smith reveals the trick to perfect paper towel technique.

About the speaker
Joe Smith · Lawyer

Joe Smith is an active figure in the Oregon community and a powerful advocate for proper paper towel use.

Joe Smith is an active figure in the Oregon community and a powerful advocate for proper paper towel use.