Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Hypocrisy of Kleenex Hand Towels

weekly Rant

It’s been a while since I wrote a rant piece. I prefer not to complain about something. Rather, I like finding a problem and figuring out how to solve it.  As an added bonus, if I see I can benefit from it, I may even pursue it as a business product or service. 

I’m making an exception to my “no rant” policy today because of a product advertisement I saw recently for Kleenex Hand Towels while watching TV.  You can probably still catch the ad during any of the evening shows.  Every time I see  it, it makes me angry.

Why?

Because our society should be and, for the most part, seems to be focusing on sustainability. Yet, Kimberly-Clark, the makers of Kleenex, somehow feel we need to add to our landfills by generating more waste. 

I believe Kimberly-Clark has forgotten the first two R’s in the sustainability equation: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  Arguably, you can reuse a paper towel, but the ad certainly speaks against it as the announcer explains that cloth hand towels could hide germs and you’ll want to throw away a paper towel after each use.  There’s no reduction either.  If you were to buy the product you would INCREASE your use of paper products!  May be Kimberly-Clark got it reversed.  May be they thought they were supposed to reduce our natural resources by helping consumers use more of them!!!

I can accept the argument that any damp towel could attract airborne bacteria.   I also remember an old wives tale that if you leave a wet towel on the ground, spiders and other insects will “grow” out of them.  I”m not sure if anyone believes towels can grow insects.  Likely, the towels create damp, warm environments that attract insects to nest and procreate in them.  However, this is not what the majority of us do.  Likely, we wash our hanging towels once a week or two, and certainly towels on the ground are ready for a wash now. 

So, why the heck would you want to buy another product that promotes killing more trees, dirtying more water in their construction, and adding more to our landfills?  If I were a product marketing manager at Kimberly-Clark, I’d search for or fund scientific studies to determine how to sell more regular hand towels and how sanitary they are, or figure out a way to create a cotton towel that’s more sanitary. 

A perfect example of a product they could develop is one by PeopleTowels: reusable hand towels made from organic cotton and ink.  Their idea is to replace paper towel usage, not just in homes, but in public places with these personal towels that you can carry in your bag, purse, or pocket.  (DISCLAIMER: I’m in NO way affiliated with PeopleTowels.  I just find their product innovative and a sign of good things to come.)

So, if Kimberly-Clark’s goal is to generate more waste, I think they’ve accomplished it well, but if they want to win public opinion and dollars, in my humble opinion, they’re going about it all wrong.

What Do You Think?

Do you disagree with me?  Does this argument resonate with you? Feel free to share your thoughts below.