ʻELEʻELE, Hawaii (KHON2) — A Kauai kindergarten class used 168 paper towels in just one day.

There was so much trash that the bins at ʻEleʻele Elementary School overflowed before the bell rang.

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Annie Godsill’s class of 5 and 6 year olds found a fun and catchy solution though, since kids have had to scrub their hands a lot more often since COVID.

“But if we go to recess we wash, so they’re going to wash at least three times a day from leaving the classroom, plus two times a day in the bathroom at least,” Godsill said. “And, at some point it was just kind of thinking, you know,”

“There’s just way too many paper towels in the trash can, what should we do about it?”

Annie Godsill, ʻEleʻele Elementary School kindergarten teacher

Godsill found a solution. She said she was shaking her hands dry after washing them at home when an idea came to her.

“And I was doing it, I was thinking ‘Shake, shake, shake,’ and in my head I started going ‘Dun-dun-dun, dun-dun-dun,” Godsill said.

With a little research, her class found that 12 shakes got their hands dry enough to use just one paper towel. But with 1-ply, they needed something thicker and drew inspiration from Joe Smith’s TED Talk on how folding one piece practically turns it to 2-ply.

“When they were just using a single, a lot of them were saying, ‘My hands are not dry.’ And once we used his folding method, then all of them were saying it was drying their hands,” Godsill said.

They even made a jingle to top it off. Godsill’s student teacher, Kristy Kinimaka, observes the class to learn the ins and outs of teaching — but she said it is actually the other way around this time. She used to take two to three paper towels after washing her hands.

“On average, every time I washed my hands, right? I think most of us do. But after I saw this, what the kids were doing, it really made me think about it and I actually started doing it! I started shaking my hands and I just took one paper towel,” Kinimaka said.

The kids even made fliers to put up in every bathroom and learned how to email by sending digital versions to other Kauai schools.

“The pandemic has been hard to teach through,” Godsill said. “I know a lot of teachers have lost their, ‘Why?’ It lights me up again, every time I do projects like this, because they’re so excited. So it’s not, as they say, boring. They really get interested in what we’re doing.”

The results? They cut their daily use by over 50% and just hope their message spreads.

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“It’s just so amazing that this message is so simple, but it really can be spread around the whole world,” Kinimaka said.