This may be my most mundane GJ post yet, but it’s an important one. For years I have been bothered by our use of tree-based toilet paper. Cutting down old-growth forests for this purpose is disturbing and non-sustainable. So we’ve tried to find the best substitute. At this point, we can recommend Silk ‘n’ Soft, which is 100% bamboo. It is $4 more expensive for the pack than tree-based TP, but the cost of deforestation is much higher. At this point, it is only available on Amazon (even their website steers you to Amazon) but we need to talk with our grocery stores to stock bamboo toilet paper Is it as soft and fluffy as tree-based, heavily-bleached toilet paper? No. But it’s not bad. Not bad at all.
For several years, I considered writing a blog called “What Would Grandma Do?” In our striving for a life of less consumption, less waste, less harm to the planet, I realized that my grandmother often made do: creatively solving needs for new clothing by sewing and mending; making her own cleaning solutions; growing, canning, and making food to feed large numbers of visitors; re-using everything she could; making gifts designed to please the recipients; and buying as little as possible. She was a wonderful role model, providing hundreds of lessons and examples. I’m grateful for my grandmother for many reasons, but her role as chatelaine of her two-bedroom, one-bath manor guides me now. (Photo: my grandmother, my mother, my great-grandmother, and me)
About eight months ago, I was carded at a restaurant (yes) when the waitperson told me that my driver’s license was expired. More than a year ago. In our state, this means you need to take the written driver’s test and pass. I haven’t driven our car for many months. Finally, yesterday, I had studied enough (there are many new rules and regulations) to take the test. Along with a roomful of 16-year-olds, I passed the test. I am grateful to be able to drive again. My husband is grateful, too.
Yesterday, my cherished husband packed up a picnic lunch, invited me to sit lakeside to watch the spring waters, and converse. It was a much-needed break after several months of deadlines for us both. I am grateful for pleasant surprises.
I love taking showers. I do my best thinking there. But I always felt disgusted by a plastic shower curtain liner: the smell, the clinging, the inevitable mold, the frequent need to purchase another one. We’ve been using a cotton duck shower liner for more than 10 years. They used to be hard to find but not anymore. Purchase one that’s a hefty fabric (sometimes called industrial grade). Unbleached cotton is preferable. We wash it every couple of weeks. It’s a liner. It gets wet but it dries quickly and it keeps water from spraying beyond the fabric. There’s a decorative fabric shower curtain facing the bathroom. One more way to keep plastic out of our waste stream.
All throughout the winter, what I miss the most is the comfort of our curtains blowing in the breeze. The graceful dance of the curtains is one of my favorite things. No matter where I have lived, from childhood to now, curtains have celebrated the movement of life. Today, for the first time since October, windows are open and curtains are moving. Ahhhhhh.
Several years ago, we stopped using our dishwasher. It is not a popular decision when we have morning-after dishes to do for a potluck party for twelve. But the rest of the time, I find it meditative. My hands in warm water, memories of the people who shared our table, thoughts of delicious food, reflections on life, and clean dishes! I am grateful for the opportunity to commune with an integral part of our lives.
I am my mother’s daughter. She loved gadgets and I follow in her wake. You may have surmised by now that I will search relentlessly for just the right tool to make cleaning and maintenance easier. We have a vaulted ceiling and several nooks and crannies that are impossible to reach, even with a ladder and a dust mop. My checklist: 1) it should use our washable flannel-fingered dust cloths (an earlier post), 2) it should reach at least six feet, 3) it should have no plastic parts. Finally, I found the closest thing I could. I am grateful that we will at long last have dust-free (and arachnid-free) corners and ceilings that can be cleaned easily and regularly. This Swiffer duster has a six-foot reach. It easily accommodates those reusable flannel dusters. The expanding pole is aluminum, but It does have a plastic handle and a plastic swivel mechanism. How to justify buying plastic? Well, if we refrain from using the duster for sword play practice, it should last for the rest of our lives. We won’t put this plastic back into the waste stream. Not a perfect solution, but very close.
One of my favorite childhood memories is lying on my back on the hillside in Sherwood Forest (not that one), watching the clouds move across the sky, identifying their shapes, observing them change shape into something else yet again. The warmth of the sun, the rough, grass-and-moss-covered earth under my back, the drone of insects, the choral songs of the birds … I am looking forward to summer. My mother taught me to watch the clouds. I am grateful.
I am grateful every day for the work of Brandon Stanton, photographer and world-changer, on Humans of New York. He provides a connection to people around the world, seeing the good and the caring and the every-person-is-unique stories that help me maintain my positive beliefs about our globe’s inhabitants. The contributions Brandon has made are stellar … I highly recommend making his Facebook posts a part of your day.