There's a sign above the electric hand dryers at work encouraging employees to skip the paper towels and use the blowers instead, stating that bathroom paper towel usage equates to twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as using the air dryers.
I don't mind using them these days, mostly because it's been so cold and having the hot air blow on my hands has been pleasant, helping me warm up, particularly after being outside when it's sub-20 degrees out. I'd use them more often if it were a force of habit. I'm so used to washing my hands and then grabbing the paper towels that half the time I'm just not thinking about it.
The dryers we have at work are the old school, wave your hand underneath and dry your hands kind. When we were in New York we experienced these phenomenally cool Dyson Airblade driers that you "insert" your hands into and draw them slowly out. They dry your hands in rapid time, although you feel like your skin is being stretched out in a wind tunnel. It is a 400 MPH blast of air, so that shouldn't come as a surprise. And, not too surprisingly, I made my husband take pictures of them in the bathroom at The Met.
The Dyson high-speed jet air dryer is supposed to use 80% less energy than the kind we have at work, but I'm sure they are more expensive. Hopefully, at some point, our work blowers can be replaced with a similar jet air dryer.
One thing to also consider is that our energy in Seattle comes from mostly green sources. So, not only do the dryers beat the pants (greenhouse gases-wise) off the paper towels, but since the electricity is most likely generated from wind or the like, it's a win-win hand-drying situation.
A while back, I got in the habit of either air drying my hands or using a handkerchief that I kept in my office for drying my hands. Sometime along the way, I stopped doing that and reverted back to paper towels - mostly out of habit. So, now I'm trying to make a concerted effort to use the blowers.
What about you? Do you air dry, blow dry or use paper towels when using a public restroom?