How to stop using paper towels

Chuck works on motorcycles, and I’m a kitchen clean freak. We used to go through a shameful amount of paper towels. Like, buy in bulk, hate-the-earth, bulldoze-Costa-Rica amounts.

librarian canvas bagThen my friend Skud gave me a great idea. I cut up a cheap jersey sheet I had kicking around (those things pill up in about 5 washes, FYI) and I sliced up a couple conference t-shirts. We now have a canvas bag full of washcloth-sized fabric squares hanging in the kitchen.

This provides an endless amount of cleaning rags for just about any job.
They are washable, bleachable, and nearly indestructible. You can run them through the wash and re-use them, or if they are gross, just toss them into the compost.

It’s a great way to re-use otherwise disposable fabrics, and they are cheaper and more sturdy than paper towels.

Take that, Brawny!

Municipal compost

San Francisco, my adopted home, offers a municipal compost service. They give you a big green wheeled garbage bin, and you can toss in everything from coffee grounds to wooden crates. It’s not gross, like home-composting, in that you don’t have a huge bag of festering goop in your house.

It’s just like taking out the trash, except you split the stuff into two bins – one for dead food stuff, and one for everything else. In our case, since we have a recycle bin too, “everything else” is mostly cellophane packaging, and it’s amazing how little garbage you actually generate when you pull out the food waste.

All the compost gets turned into soil for farms, vineyards, landscaping, and highway erosion projects, instead of piling up in landfills.

Plus our trash smells better, because all the icky stuff goes outside in the big green bin.

Gutting the Endangered Species Act

Salon has obtained an internal 117-page draft proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The document proposes to:

“limit the number of species that can be protected and curtail the acres of wildlife habitat to be preserved. It shifts authority to enforce the act from the federal government to the states, and dilutes legal barriers that protect habitat from sprawl, logging or mining.”

Read more here. I guarantee the final draft will be titled “Helping Endangered Species Act” or something similarly compelling. The “Saving Wolves Act” would be nice. Or how about the “Freedom for Endangered Species From Government Interference Act”?

Turtles and Tornadoes

What a strange day. I got to work, and the building was closed. No water, and thus, no air conditioning. The Big Software Launch was today, so we intrepid few stayed anyway, fighting the clock and 95 degree heat whilst the servers politely melted.

Then the tornadoes came. Or tornado warning, which is unusual enough around here. Power lines down, benches blown over, little whorls of  litter in the street.

And to top it off, I rescued three snapping turtles from the road. It’s egg-laying day in snapping-turtle-land, and several turtlemammas thought our dirt road looked like ye olde ancestral breeding ground.

Ever try to pick up a snapping turtle the size of a garbage can lid using only a cattail and your shoe? Ever pick up a CD-sized snapping turtle in the act of bravely stomping out in front of a BUS, only to have it kick you and pee on your foot? Ever pick up a mousepad-sized turtle from the edge of the road, and reveal five ghostly white ping-pong ball eggs in a hole beneath her? This was my day.

Also, the cow-orkers and I saw a spotted fawn and his mom hanging out in the parking lot. Nature preserve librarian, y’all. It gets no better. Except for the turtle pee, which stains.