Friday, June 12, 2009

Imagine my surprise

Part One: A Whale of a Tale

Last night I was online when Abe came in. "Go to youtube!" he said. "I want to show you something I saw tonight on Sports Center," he said. Seeing as I'm very clever, and about as interested in watching Sports Center as I am in being subjected to any other form of torture, to be funny, I went to the address bar and typed" And hit enter.

People, I am here to warn you: that is an actual website, and it is most definitely not youtube.

Part Two: My Plastic Fantastic Lover

Plastic is everywhere! If you give up plastic for a month in America, here are things you may suffer without:
  • dish soap
  • Trader Joe's, where they specialize in things that are delicious and sold in non-recyclable plastic packaging
  • soy milk
  • laundry detergent
  • frozen vegetables in the winter time
  • popcorn
  • toilet paper. Even brands that are supposed to be eco-friendly are sold in plastic packaging!
  • the dollar store. You can't begin to imagine the looks you get when you tell them no thanks, you brought your own bag.

Here are a few things that you can do to use less plastic, most of which I have no experience with:

  • Try soap nuts. I haven't, actually, but they sound cool. I'm hoping to start making our own detergent once we run out of the bottle we have now, with soap, washing soda, borax, and water, but I think I'll have to buy a plastic container to store it in.
  • Take reusable cloth bags to the grocery store, and pass on the little plastic produce bags. Your produce will probably get home safely even without using a bag - or you can take your bags (ziplocs, which you can wash and reuse, or even better, cotton!)
  • Find a store that sells things in bulk bins. Take reusable containers to stock up on all kinds of things: granola, mixed nuts, pasta, chocolate-covered espresso beans, and sometimes even baking mixes.
  • Think about the waste! Whenever you buy a box of cereal, it comes packaged in cardboard and a plastic bag. That's a lot of trash. Look for more packaging-efficient solutions.
  • I hear you can refill bottles of Dr. Bronners at some health stores - which would mean I could reuse the plastic bottles I already have.
  • Buy the soap for your dishwasher in powder form (sold in cardboard boxes!). Seventh Generation makes one, or I found a cheaper version called "Earth" at Harris Teeter.
  • Switch to a solid shampoo. Lush makes delicious (more expensive) products, but recently I bought at least a year's supply of shampoo from Just Soap, which may be the coolest company ever. They make all-natural soaps and solid shampoos using bicycle power, and even re-used shipping materials to send my order (which arrived in a box that previously carried GORP - which I imagine you could eat a lot of, if you were stirring soap by bicycle all day). They also charge less if you opt to have your soaps shipped without labels.

Part 3: Maybe I'm the Schizophrenic One

Right now I have a client who is paranoid schizophrenic. She dresses, shall we say, like a crazy person, in a jumper (when she has to dress up) or a top like this (which to me is a night dress) over sweatpants over leggings. She does laundry all the time, because whenever we've tried to get her to accept other clothing, she says "that's beautiful!" and then gives it back the next day.

Not that long ago, a staff person took her to Walmart so she could buy some things. One of the things she purchased was another top like this, and she was very excited to put it on with her sweatpants and her leggings to show everyone. I saw her, and wanted to compliment her on her new outfit. I said, "Wow, you got a new... shirt," not knowing what else to call it (since it clearly wasn't pajamas to her).

She looked at me, and said, "Miss! This is a night dress!"

(My bad.)


  1. Great suggestions, Karen! I actually wanted to ask a question about a previous post - can you explain the logistics of your bucket shower? Specifically, how do you recapture the water to use it to flush the toilet?

  2. Right now, I think our system technically sucks. Eventually we'll have a pump (I keep looking for fish tanks at Goodwill, because that seems like the cheapest way to get the kind of small pump we're looking for), but for now, we plug the drain to keep the water in the tub, shower, and then scoop the water from the tub to the toilet tank using a small (plastic) bucket we got a while ago at the dollar store. It's very low tech and sort of inconvenient, but it's the best we can do in our apartment. I hope someday we'll have a fancy gray water system - for now, we have slightly dirty/soapy water standing in our bathroom all the time.

  3. Interesting. Well, it sounds like it's working well enough for the moment, with room for future improvements. We just got a low-flow showerhead, but it is anyone's guess whether we are actually saving water or not. There is definitely less water coming out at once, but before the switch, I took showers that were reliably between 3 and 5 minutes. Now, with the the utter lack of water pressure, I think I'm in for a bare minimum of 5 minutes and up to 10 whole minutes if I use both shampoo and conditioner. Boo.
    Can you let me know how the Just Soap works out? I'm trying to make the switch to all all-natural soap and shampoo and they sound like a great company.