Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Going Green, part 1: The Blue Towel

For the first "Going Green" post, click here.
This post is dedicated to my in-law's for their example in the 3R's, and for introducing me to the wonderful blue towel! (They also keep me well-stocked with said blue towel.)

The blue towel to which I refer is none other than the humble, ubiquitous blue towel used in hospitals. For some reason, like the little striped newborn blankets, they are the same in every hospital. The only difference, I've been told, is that they're white in the cardiac wings of hospitals. This towel, for those who may never have seen one in person, is about the size of an ordinary dish towel, is coarsely woven cotton--also like many dish towels, and is cobalt blue. Conveniently, they're my favorite color.

But the charms and uses of the blue towel go far, far beyond its nice color. How do I, a stay-at-home mom, come by bags and bags of blue towels that can be used for any number of occasions? My father-in-law is a nurse anesthetist. Therefore, he is in surgery all day at his hospital. When the nurses open a box of these blue towels (they come 10 to a box), the unused towels must be discarded since they are no longer sterile. My father-in-law takes the unused ones home, thus practicing the 3R's in one simple act: reducing trash, reusing the towels in another way, and recycling these towels in a sense because they get used over and over and over again. You may not have access to blue towels, but surely you have some old hand or dish towels lying around. Consider using them instead of paper towels or other wasteful products for some of the following we've discovered: (we do throw away blue towels when they get nasty--they've still been used for more than they would have been had they been thrown away unused).

  • drying dishes
  • hand towels in kitchen
  • prep towels to wipe your hands on during food prep
  • cleaning up spills
  • cleaning up vomit
  • cleaning up pee (when you're potty training a child, you clean this up a lot!)
  • cleaning up wet paint
  • cleaning dirty animals (dogs when they come in from the rain)
  • cleaning baseboards
  • cleaning windowsills
  • cleaning tops of door frames
  • cleaning cabinet surfaces
  • spare towels in your car (in case your children or car need some clean up)
  • oil rags when checking car's oil
  • work shop rags
  • burp cloths
  • "warmers"--wrapped around dishes to keep them warm in transit
  • "insulators"--wrapped around frozen food to keep them cool in transit
  • "cloth" napkins--yes, we've even done this!
  • folded up under faucets that leak
  • the list could go on and on and on.....

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