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Hand Sanitizer and our Watershed

2012 Greeley, Colorado, USA
The students’ originally proposed to replace the soap dispensers in every bathroom with a dispenser of hand sanitizer, which would save time, trees, and reduce water consumption. By using hand sanitizer the students at the school would be saving paper towels, soap, and money. During the implementation of the proposal the students’ discovered recent research that suggests that the manufacturers of hand sanitizers claim that the sanitizers kill 99.9 percent of germs and this may not actually be the case. The students’ also found that the Food and Drug Administration recommends that hand sanitizers not be used in place of soap and water but only as an adjunct. It also recommends that to properly sanitize the hands, soap and water should be used; a hand sanitizer cannot and should not take the place of proper cleansing procedures with soap and water.

Based on their research, the students’ changed their search to finding a hospital-grade hand sanitizer that is triclosan-free (which has been found to alter hormone regulation in lab animals or cause antibiotic resistance). So, instead of replacing soap in the restrooms they are now placing the triclosan-free, hospital-grade hand sanitizer in the cafeteria at the head of the food line. At that point students will be able to enter the food area with germ-free hands. This means that the installed bio-based hand sanitizer will contribute not only to a cleaner and more economical school site, but also a more environmentally safe school for our students. Thanks to Nutrien for their donation of $698.00 to implement our solution.

“By keeping the chemicals out of our watershed we not only help our own area but all of those downstream of us.” Mayra & Sam