Waste basket collectionUgh! Remember this from my Earth Day declaration of war on household garbage? This lot was collected from the small baskets sitting about the house, much of it bathroom waste--paper towels and tissues. I collect almost two pounds of this stuff every week.
© L. Kathryn Grace
© L. Kathryn Grace
Most of the paper towels in this mess have to do, one way and another, with hair. Cat hair. Wads and wads of the stuff.
My sweetie and I are a tad squeamish. There's something about unattached fur that sends us both in a tizzy. When our dear Salome sheds, it's not veils. It's fur balls--tufts and tufts and tufts of Persian longhair. What do we do? Grab a paper towel, wet it slightly, engulf those flighty tufts, one after another, and toss 'em in the can. Five minutes later, do it all over again.
Occasionally Salome leaves us a nice fat hair ball nestled in a slimy puddle. Urrrk. That's the sound we make when we pick it up, carefully covering it first with a paper towel, grabbing the whole mess with another. Involuntary muscle spasms. Urrrk.
That's not all. Cat hair flies, and what flies has to land. Everywhere. I chase hair gingerly, with a damp paper towel, in the futile hope of grabbing it before it sails up and away again. Our tiny bathroom, a favorite Salome nesting spot, is constantly alight with fur. Two or three times a day, I run a damp paper towel around the bathroom fixtures, on the sills, in the corners, everywhere the fur settles. Salome especially likes to nap in the tub, so that gets a swipe too.
Then there's the kitchen. It's not all cat hair, of course. There will be spills. It's so easy to tear off a paper towel and wipe up the trail of slime from the avocado slice that shot from my hand, skipped across the butcher block like a stone on water and landed, smoosh, on the floor I mopped this morning. Or last month. While I'm wiping that up, I catch as much fur as I can reach.
Egg on the floor
How did it come to this? As a young mom, I refused to have paper towels in the house. Wasteful! Somewhere along the line, a roll came into our life. I suppose I eyed it gingerly at first, but then there was that egg that rolled off the counter top and splatted all over the indoor/outdoor carpet tiles (Why would anyone put indoor/outdoor on a kitchen floor?) and halfway up the cupboard doors. That roll came in handy, too, when my three year old poured, and immediately dumped, a brimming glass of milk. It wasn't long before paper towels were a mainstay.
Fast forward. Kids grown up. Many life changes. New mate, just the two of us for decades now, and here we are, until recently using at least one roll of paper towels a week. At $2.99 a pop, that adds up to $155.48 a year, plus tax. Now I know $150 doesn't go far these days (Astonishing!), but it's the principle, I say! The price of convenience, you say?
Not this year. I'm at war with my throw-away habits.
Here's what I'm doing about it
here's just one example), I was compelled to buy organic. Now I ask you, if I'm willing to throw away $2.99 worth of paper towels a week, how can I flinch at paying the same price for organic cotton I can use again and again and whose manufacture is harming no one?
No more disposables!reusable clothsmade of recycled fibers. We keep them all in a handy basket on the kitchen work table, ready to grab and mop up spills or wipe our hands as we chop, dice and slice.
For the cat hair and every day floor messes, I cut an old, ragged bath towel to hand-sized squares. They're perfect for those quick swipes around the fixtures and to mop up spilled kitty water or to clean the floor boards.
Downside: I have to rinse those hair-covered cloths and hang 'em to dry. Do you know what wet black cat hair on a white cloth looks like? And the sink! Urrrk.
That was two weeks ago. So far, this change is a big success, better than any of the previous times we've tried to cut back on disposables. After two weeks, nearly an entire unused roll sits on top of the refrigerator, accessible, but no longer convenient. That helped. More importantly, this time, we brought the reusables to the work table, instead of storing them in a drawer. They're every bit as handy as the roll of paper towels had been. The floor rags are stored in a bin convenient to the kitty food and water bowls, where the most spills occur.
Making conscious choices is sometimes as simple as changing an outdated habit, but mindful living can be complicated. One concern about switching to reusables was that we might significantly increase our laundry and water use. That would do nothing to help us lower our ecological footprint. Fortunately, despite liberal use of the reusable cloths, I'll wash kitchen linens for the first time this weekend, and we have yet to accumulate a full load of floor rags. No problem.
Update: Buying in bulkUpdate on my goal to buy in bulk (See War on Garbage: What is all that junk anyway?): I told you I'd get back to you on whether my sweetie would join me in avoiding pre-packaged foods and commit to buying everything available in bulk at our local organic grocer. The answer: A resounding yes and a new spreadsheet listing all the items we buy prepackaged, complete with suggested solutions for finding even more items in bulk. Tee hee. I'm so excited! We are making progress in the first and most important of the three Rs: Reduce, reuse, recycle.
What about you? What conscious choices are you making this week to help us all live in a world more like the Village of Ordinary?
We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.