I don’t know when it first started. It may have been the scratchy toilet paper. Maybe it was the Seventh Generation baby wipes or suddenly not being able to find the paper towels. It could have been going from the Vanity Fair napkins to the big stack of cloth napkins on the kitchen table. Perhaps it was the metal straws instead of our stripey bendy plastic ones or the wad of tote bags that showed up in the back seat of my car before my trips to the grocery store. Or going into the bathroom to find the yellow mellowing and realizing it was there on purpose. Gradually, though, it got worse. My Fantastik cleaner was gone. So were my Palmolive, Cascade, Softsoap and Reynolds Wrap. Mysterious bottles of bulk liquids and grains and nutshells began to fill our cabinets. Then came the big vat of food scraps, toilet paper rolls, teabags, and apple cores on our counter.
I didn’t sign up for this. I was way out of my comfort zone. We would go into restaurants and hand the waiter our own containers for leftovers. Other leftovers were stored in English muffin bags. I’d go to take the paper off my cupcake to discover it was actually rubber. When our first daughter was born, I went out and bought disposable everything. I love convenience. We lived in New York City, had no dishwasher, a galley kitchen, a screaming baby, and a trash shoot in the garbage room next to the elevator. I bought red solo cups, plates, forks, spoons, napkins. We didn’t have to do dishes for a month! It was wonderful. We could just throw everything. And now nine years later, we are reusing aluminum foil. I have been waiting for strips of old beach towels to replace our toilet paper rolls.
I didn’t really have a vocabulary for the new good-for-the earth stuff we started using, so I made up my own, We started using these reusable cloth “sandwich diapers” instead of sandwich bags. We make use of a selection of reusable food “shower caps” to cover our Pyrex containers. There’s bendy oven mats and shampoo cones and deodorant diamonds and dryer balls (I think they’re actually called that).
It’s been several years now. I’ve gotten used to it for the most part. We’re teaching our kids that the Earth is important and that we need to be careful about what goes into landfills. Refilling our soap bottles is a piece of cake. I don’t miss bendy straws or paper plates or napkins. The Dr. Bronners and Sals Suds and dishwasher drops do the trick. I haven’t used my stash of tote bags because I don’t go to the grocery store, but I’m looking forward to the day I can again. I still flush the toilets when the yellow has been mellowing for too long. I got my Quilted Northern back. I draw the line at using the bagel bags to clean up after our dog. But I’ve gotten used to the shower caps and I kind of like the sandwich diapers. If I can make the switch, so can you.