I’m what you might call fairly germ obsessive, but probably not in the way you think. My aunt probably is a little germ obsessive in the way you might think – she ALWAYS uses those paper toilet seat covers, never drinks off other people’s drinks, and loves her anti-bacterial hand wash and bleach cleaners. Actually this is likely not germ obsessive now that I think about it. I’d say it’s normal for Americans.
In America we buy untold amounts of dangerous cleaners each year along with mountains of sanitizing products and paper towels all meant to do one thing – protect us from germs.
Germs fascinate me because of how they’ve captured everyone’s attention. Germs astound me because people are so freaked out by such a little organism. Most of all though germs make me laugh because although people must know that germs are everywhere, that they touch us all, that we absolutely cannot win a war waged with germs, still many people try.
It’s not like I don’t take basic germ precautions. I wash my hands and make my son wash his. I wash food well (even organic) and use a tissue when I have a cold. That said I also don’t condone anti-bacterial products or bleach and other harsh cleaners. I use cloths not paper towels to clean with. I guess you might say I have a lackadaisical approach to germs – yeah I know they’re there. Yes I know some can be very dangerious. But overall, I ignore them because I know they outnumber me. Why bother fighting to the max?
My lack of issue with germs started when I took Microbiology for health sciences in college. We swabbed for germs and other icky stuff on ‘clean’ cafeteria trays, money, library books and a slew of other seemingly harmless everyday objects and guess what – everything, and I do mean everything had some sort of icky germ on it. After seeing that germs are always with us the two positions available were freak and become a total germ-a-phobe or take basic precautions and try not to worry. I choose the second stance obviously.
Why bring it up?
I recently got a new product to review – PeopleTowles. PeopleTowels are 100% organic cotton, reusable personal hand towels meant to be carried with you on-the-go which will eliminate the need for paper towels or electric hand air dryers when you’re out and about.
I asked my friend to be part of said review and he said, “Why would I want to carry a personal hand towel around?” then went on to explain that paper towels serve more than one purpose – they dry your hands sure but they also protect you from germs. For example, he said he washes, then uses that same paper towel to open the bathroom door on the way out. It’s a perfectly valid concern and I added it to my review, but what I’m wondering is if that concern is valid enough to warrant the use of millions of paper towels each year.
For example. You use the paper towel like my friend to dry your hands in a public restroom at a store. Assuming you did a good job washing your hands you should now be germ free. Then you take that paper towel and use it to open the bathroom door. Germ free check!
What about however, when you venture further into the store?
In the store you come into contact with carts, produce, boxes of cereal, money, the pen you use to write your check (or god forbid the ATM machine), plus a slew of other objects that thousands of folks before you have touched. Your point with using the paper towel to avoid germs has now been blown to heck and back because I assure you, all those other objects you’ve now touched are covered with germs of people who also came out of that bathroom but didn’t wash their hands and now sadly those germs are on you.
Is it worth it to have used the paper towel?
My take is no. No it wasn’t worth it. All that toxic bleach. All those anti-bacterial products that contain icky chemicals. ALL those paper towels… probably not worth it in the grand scheme of things. It just makes me wonder. My friend is smart. He’s reasonable. He’s actually pretty green minded too. So are plenty of other people in America. However, we still buy the cleaners and paper towels which makes me think that maybe a lot of anti-green behavior is caused by germs; an issue we can’t easily (or maybe at all) control.
It’s something to think about. In fact, why not tell me what you think about it… Are germs a major issue behind why people are still using anti-green tactics like paper towels and bleach?