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Preserve the earth’s beauty, but go gentle on the booty…(recycled toilet paper)

Please pardon the eye-roll-worthy title; I couldn’t resist.

seventh gen tpOkay, this is a blog post that I wanted to write myself, but then I discovered someone else had already done the research and written it much better than I could have:

The author reviews several brands of post-consumer content (recycled) toilet paper for comfort and durability and actually comes up with a winner…This will be one of those areas of greenness where my husband might fight me a little…but I’ll win him over.

(Paper towels are our family’s biggest stumbling block; we use ridiculous numbers of them, and we should so switch over to cloth, but we just haven’t been able to make that jump yet…there’s another review over at Grist similar to the toilet paper reviews, comparing different brands of paper towel, but honestly it’s the first comment on that one that hits it on the head: the best paper towel is no paper towel.)



Taste of Westmont–our town summer festival

Okay, so Summerfest it’s not.  But several blocks of Cass Avenue are blocked off, there are carnival rides for kids, games, booths for various local businesses (at least I assume they were local) and of course lots and lots of food from local vendors.

I met a lovely woman with her own green business–Ann Brixie has a web business called “Green Life” ( , from which she sells stuff like waste free lunchboxes, reusable shopping bags that fold up into their own little pouch (I so have to get a couple of those; I love my string bags, but they keep getting tangled up in things!), earth-friendly water bottles that won’t leach plasticky weirdness into your water, and such.  I chatted with her for a while–her whole business came about pretty much the way this blog did–she’s an ordinary woman trying to live life in the burbs and raise kids on the generally horrific schedule of Today’s Mom, and wasn’t finding the resources she needed.  So she went out and started to provide them herself, which I think is awesome.

Aside from Ann…well, there wasn’t a lot green about the Taste of Westmont.  Vast and scary amounts of trash generated, way too many beverages served in styrofoam, and the only way one could get water was to buy it. In a plastic bottle.

Except…for the church.  Westmont Bible Church, I’m pretty sure, on Cass just north of the tracks.  They sat outside the church with a giant jug of water and paper cups (or they’d refill whatever you had) and just handed out free water all day.  And in their parking lot wherethe youth group had their mini-golf thing set up, side by side with the garbage cans there were recycling bins.  They were un-pushy, didn’t proseletyse at all, but were just a lovely presence there all day.  Not that I didn’t appreciate the other churches there who were handing out fans to cool off, or little candy prizes and balloons for the kids and all, but this church brought water.  (Rather biblical, actually, when you think about it. Oh, let all who thirst…)

Free water and recycling bins. Score one for the Jesus People.


Little soaps–hotels and greenness

Part of this whole greening process for me has involved taking new looks at things I used to take for granted, or not even think about.  One of those things, this week, has been the tiny sthese little oaps and shampoos that seem to be part and parcel of every hotel bathroom I’ve ever been in.

First, the soap–you open up a bar of soap, use it for a shower or two and washing your hands for the duration, and then you leave it there when you leave and it gets thrown away and replaced with a new one the next time housekeeping is there.  The tiny bottles of shampoo and conditioner are thrown out and added to the landfill piles.  Consumption nightmare.

So I did a little thinking, and a little research.

First of all, we of course have the option of not using the hotel soaps and shampoos; if they are still there, unwrapped, or with the seals unbroken, one assumes the hotel will leave them there for the next guest.  This is honestly usually my choice, because the hotel stuff tends to be too heavily scented for me, and I’d just as soon bring my own from home.  As an alternative, using them and then bringing them home to finish using them is also not a bad idea, especially with the bar soap.  The shampoos and such–hard to get around the negative implications of those tiny bottles.

Many homeless shelters will accept donation of unopened soaps and shampoos–while this is a great thing to do, it also in a way does not solve the problem; the soaps and shampoos will still likely get used once and thrown away.  Few if any shelters will accept already opened products, for obvious sanitary reasons. 

A group called Clean the World Foundation ( in Florida has a program whereby hotel chains can donate their used soaps for recycling; they seem to have a lot of local partners, but they are hardly a nationwide phenomenon.

You can also check out for the mappable locations of different hotels who qualify for a one-to-four “trees” rating for how many things they are doing to be environmentally friendly…it’s not as informative as I might have hoped, but it’s something. 

The recommendation in hotels with a real commitment to greenness seems to be dispensers–soap, shampoo, conditioner.  It seems to be slow to catch on, but it’s not a bad idea…

In the meantime, there are a bunch of sites with suggestions for what to do with used soaps–I plan to try some of these with our basic at-home soap slivers… –six different ideas for re-using old soap pieces –makes old soap pieces into pump-able liquid hand soap –a kid-friendly, microwavable way to turn lots of little pieces of soap into a new bar 

If anyone tries any of these, let me know how they worked!