Monday November 23, 2015
The other day, my husband came home with the wrong paper towels. A lot of people may not care about this –not as important as something like toilet paper – but I find paper towels so wasteful that I want to spend the least amount of money on them as possible. I have made multiple attempts to limit their use altogether, but their mere presence changes people’s cleaning habits. No matter how much I “remind” (I never nag) them a sponge or washcloth would work for most messes, wasteful paper towels are still chosen first. Having given in to the fact that they are a necessary evil, I have discovered the best paper towel practice for my house is to purchase paper towels in a 12-pack store brand, heavy weight select-a-size version, and there are a number of reasons why.
First of all I have kids, mostly boys, running in and out of my house all the time so you can imagine why I need a certain level of absorbency and strength for messes that occur. This alone makes the super-economy paper towel just plain impractical. When I use those, one spill uses up half a roll and I end up more annoyed. So we stick to the heavier weight towel to account for “clinical” need. After lots of user acceptance testing and household trials I found that my grocery store brand has a heavy weight version that has an acceptable absorbency and strength and is a suitable alternative to the other higher cost “quicker-picker-uppers”.
Next I determined that buying paper towels in a large 12 pack is much more cost-effective than buying them in smaller packs. I have 3 options for purchasing: 2/$3.00 ($1.50/roll), a 6 pack for $7.99 ($1.33/roll) or a 12-pack for $14.99 ($1.25/roll). I do not buy the 24 pack or larger because of the storage requirements. I buy a 12 pack every 2 weeks. Since I use 24 rolls of paper towels/month, saving $0.25 per roll equals $6/month or $72 per year saved. Now that doesn’t seem like a lot, even I’m a bit disappointed in that number. But there is opportunity I haven’t mentioned yet – select-a-size. Utilization!
The select-a-size paper towel is the wonderful invention that gives you 2 towels per each large traditional paper towel. Because I can tailor the size of the paper towel to the size of the job, I can make the roll last much longer. When I use the traditional large towel rolls, I go through those rolls at least twice as fast if not faster. Taking a large paper towel and ripping it in half is possible, but where would I save the other half? Would I actually save it if I had a place to put it? Would I even take the time to rip it in half? Considering I’m writing about paper towels, I might actually do it, but my family definitely will not. So I would end up buying a 15 dollar 12-pack every week instead of every 2 weeks, causing me to spend $30 more each month. I would be spending $360 extra per year if I didn’t insist on select-a-size paper towels! What a perfect example of looking beyond price points. I got the best price available and saved myself $72 per year. By choosing the size of the paper towel according to the mess I am cleaning, I saved $360 per year – a 5-fold increase! Utilization encompasses all of these elements – finding the best product to fit your needs, obtaining the best price, and most importantly figuring out how to use it efficiently and appropriately. This is why store brand, heavy weight, select-a-size paper towels in a 12 pack is the most cost-effective option for my unpredictable household. Not only because it is the best priced product, but because I still have little faces to clean in which a large paper towel would be far too big, and bigger spills to sop up for which 5 select-a-size would be sufficient, but 3 large towels would be too much. Fortunately those unwanted large towels will soon be gone and life can go back to normal. Now on to the next challenge: Would buying napkins decrease the number of paper towels used? Why am I the only one that uses reusable dish towels?!?
Read Week 4: Divide and Conquer
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Elizabeth is the Director in Clinical Utilization at Blue.Point. Elizabeth uses her nursing background to provide insight into how clinical products are used and their effect on clinical practice. She is passionate about keeping hospitals thriving so everyone has access to the best quality of care when they need it.