A YouTuber was slammed for basically insulting environmental conservation efforts by wasting water and thousands of paper towels for a meaningless prank.
Tyler Oliveira—whose YouTube channel has 590K followers—posted a video last week, asking, "Can 1,000,000 Paper Towels Absorb A Swimming Pool?"
In the video, Oliveira asked:
"These are paper towels. This is a swimming pool. The question is, how many paper towels will it take to soak up my entire swimming pool."
Did you click on the video to find out?
So did over 222K subscribers who were just as curious.
His egregious demonstration was inspired by his TikTok video of a similar concept that went viral.
In the TikTok video, Oliveira "accidentally" spilled a glass of water into a swimming pool and frantically tried soaking it up by using one paper towel after another.
The popular clip inspired him to expand upon the idea for a sequel.
"My big brain energy resonated with the masses and before I knew it this TikTok had over 11 million views."
"Little did I know, the rest of the world shared my curiosity, and I'd sparked a question across the nation."
He ordered "100,000 Sparkle paper towels" to his home for an experiment to see if he could come up with an answer.
He proceeded to dunk the rolls into the water, and quipped:
"We're destroying these paper towel rolls right now. We're still barely making a dent into this moist swimming pool."
With the towels failing to soak up an estimated 25,000 gallons of water, Oliveira determined after his calculations that it would take 3,625,000 paper towels to accomplish the task.
Many people did not see the humor in the resulting waste and called him out in the comments section, with one person writing:
"Talk about pollution and waste."
"I can't believe how many trees he wasted."
User "Nicker Nacker" invoked young environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, and commented:
"Greta Thunberg: Sees this
Greta Thunberg: This does make me angry."
Cindy Chang, a dedicated fan of the YouTube channel, could no longer hold back.
After prefacing with general comments on the channel's content, she criticized his wasteful ways as someone coming "from a place where it is literally very difficult to even buy paper towels."
"I'd recommend to use your channel and influence to make a positive impact on others (you can be as funny as you want, but I think being so wasteful is unnecessary)."
"Like literally, I felt pretty bad for the amount of paper, plastic, and even water wasted in this video."
"As cringey as this might sound, you could have even donated those paper towels to people who actually don't have access to it, and it would have made a better impact than throwing them into a pool."
Others followed suit in admonishing Oliveira on Twitter.
His demonstration did prove something alright.
Oliveira tried to mitigate the backlash with a halfhearted apology and explained that the paper towels already "existed independently."
"Many of you may be upset at my use of paper towels in this video. And this may, perhaps, be justified."
"However I would like you to consider one thing. These paper towels existed independently of whether or not I would have used them."
"But yes, perhaps, I had a micro impact on the demand of paper towels throughout the entire paper towel industry. Who knows."
One person spelled things out for Oliveira:
"Its not about whether they already existed, more purchases = more demand = more being made, basic economics pal."
The YouTuber acknowledged that he "may not have considered its net consequence on the Earth" but deflected the guilt by saying his critics "failed to reflect on their own respective impact, and are just as guilty."
"People are rather energetic to jump into the comment section and demonstrate their environmental pro activity, despite the fact that these facts exist."
Hand dryers are used in most public restrooms for a reason.
Approximately 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used each year and make up 2% of total landfills in the U.S. alone.
The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that paper "makes up the largest share of municipal waste in the US."
Paper towel and tissue waste—irrespective of being made from recyclable materials—also generate three times more carbon emissions than Dyson Airblade hand dryers, according to a 2011 study.
On Thursday evening—after all the negative comments berating Oliveira—the YouTube personality finally admitted that the demonstration was "a really bad idea."
"I was caught up in the idea of making a banger and I didn't really consider the net consequence on the world around me, and that's pretty messed up."
He decided to correct his misstep by donating $1,000 towards relief efforts for the Australian bushfires and asked followers to join him in reaching a $10,000 goal.
"Given that this video is receiving so much attention, albeit negative, I wanted to see if we could turn this big negative into a big positive! I've donated $1000 to the Australian Red Cross organization, and have created a link below via Facebook Fundraiser where you can donate as well!"
"All proceeds go directly to the Australian Red Cross organization which helps their emergency teams to fight the bushfires we're currently seeing across NSW, Qld and SA, and disasters yet to come."
It took some time, but he finally got around to trying to clean up the mess he made.