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PeopleTowel Shows How a Green Business Can Effectively Use Social Media

| Friday April 2nd, 2010 | 4 Comments


Did you know you use an average of 2400-3000 paper towels a year, and that’s just at work? That when those paper towels decompose, they produce methane (cow fart anybody?) Even for the most sustainably-minded among us, there’s a sense that using paper towel is a “necessary evil,” or perhaps you kid yourself that they’re recyclable. (Mostly not, sorry to say.)

PeopleTowels has something for you.

Sure, you could carry around a hand towel from home, but let’s face it, we’re vain creatures, and most wouldn’t feel comfortable whipping out what’s usually only seen in our bathroom at home.

PeopleTowels makes personal reusable hand towels. Doesn’t sound sexy in type here, but in execution, they’re attractive–with several designed via contest entries from the public–all organic, fair trade, eco-friendly inks used.

PeopleTowels is a great example of how to effectively use social media for your business.

Along with the customer created designs, these folks clearly know their way around Twitter, and, skipping the bumbling repetitive self promotion, they interact often with others, and share/retweet information and stories of interest to their customer base. They know that by providing value beyond what they offer, they are more sticky in people’s minds, and contributing to the overall increase in sustainable living amongst us.

And, in a clever way to help make their product that many may initially not see themselves using, they’re running a Flickr based photo contest where people show how they use/carry their PeopleTowel, thereby increasing the odds you’ll see an approach that you’ll find cool/comfortable.

The startup’s use of Facebook hits the mark, as well. People are clearly responding positively to what they post, and sharing their own content as well.

What could have easily stayed a tiny niche brand used by only the deepest of green people looks to grow to a respectable size, each of its customers saving a 1/4 of a tree a year on average through using the product on a regular basis, and via the high visibility and conversation value, generating additional sustainable behavior in those around them.

Readers: What other companies out there are effectively helping people shift to less waste intensive lifestyles effectively? What companies can we learn from, green or otherwise, to best use social media?

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations around, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media.


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  • Brian Bell

    Why not just buy a 99 cent bandanna?

  • iwalk iwrite

    I like to take a cup out with me to buy coffee (not the norm, but at least understood in some cities. where I live people look at me quizzically as if thinking “She doesn't look like she sleeps rough…but she carries her own cup?”)…so why not a towel. And yeh, let's have some fun and make it a sexy-looking one….or something really wacko, even if just to add spice to the people freakin' repertoire :-)

    (Oh, and taking a home-made lunch into an office can also generate side-long stares of suspicion. People think it's weird? That freaks me out! )

    Bring on the towels!!!

  • Sam

    PeopleTowels are great and really handy! I bought one from them at the San Francisco Green Fest and have been carrying it everywhere since.

  • Sam

    PeopleTowels are great and really handy! I bought one from them at the San Francisco Green Fest and have been carrying it everywhere since.