Using Social Influence to Reduce Paper Towel Use in University Washrooms

  • Kevin Lee Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • Alexandra Abbott
  • Laibah Waraich
  • Emily Poulin


A field experiment was conducted at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) Surrey campus to reduce paper towel usage in washrooms. We conducted a pilot survey to address the barriers and benefits of individuals reducing their paper towel consumption and found that people were willing to reduce their paper towel usage but that one paper towel was inconvenient to dry one’s hands. Our campaign aimed to address this and included a sign introducing the Shake and Fold technique to help increase the effectiveness of using a single sheet of paper towel and address this barrier. Additionally, a slogan accompanying the Shake and Fold instructions that targeted social influence was also present on the sign to increase its effectiveness. Results were not significant to determine if our sign had any effect on changing paper towel use habits. According to our pilot surveys, individuals saw value in reducing paper towel consumption, thus future research should continue to explore effective ways to reduce consumption.

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