Thursday, October 1, 2015

Making Do With Less

I first heard the term "paperless kitchen" more than ten years ago. My friend, who was in Simple Living, had committed to that. The thing she did was pick up lots and lots of paper napkins anytime she got fast food.  It intrigued me, how she confused "paperless" with "paying for paper." Kind of like when you quit smoking and then borrow cigarettes from everyone else. It's not about not buying paper; it's about not using it.

Recently it occurred to me out of nowhere that going paperless in my kitchen was a good idea, that my paper towels were made from trees, trees which, if let to live would be forests cleaning the air. My daughter is studying forestry; that makes me think about these things.

I had plenty of rags, so I put them in a pretty bowl by the kitchen sink where the paper towels used to sit.  I was surprised how annoying it was at first. It highlighted the fact that any habit change is difficult, the older the habit, the harder.  I'd been grabbing a paper towel for decades. Now I had to pick the right size rag, and discard the yucky ones and hang the other ones to dry before they go down the chute. Eventually I had to wash them in with the other towels. All this is not work, but it was irritating at first. Change is.

There is a fallacy American advertising pounds on in these end times in which a great many women work and then come home and do everything at home.  The fallacy is that you can buy something that will redeem this life by saving "precious seconds," something like one-swipe mascara (I'm not making this up). Every one of these solutions adds to the landfill. Don't believe them. You don't have a life by saving seconds. What people do with extra seconds is watch more TV.

Like everything else I discover, I'm a late adopter. Lots of people are already into this paperless thing. Here's a nice article, for instance. Obviously, if you work at it, your rags can even be pretty. You can even buy rags (a thought that astonishes me) from a website called, you guessed it, Paperless Kitchen. Their rags are sort of sturdier paper towels made from sustainable plant cellulose and, importantly, are new. It seems to me this is not a very ecological solution.  New rags involve growing and harvesting those plants, manufacturing them, transporting them, which wears down the highways and pollutes the air.  Like that.

As we say in Zen, pay attention.

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