Tuesday, February 28, 2012

from probes to paper towels

When you write a farcical blog post about vulnerable vaginas, intrusive probes and seedy politics, I’ve discovered, you sort of write yourself into a corner.  How in the world do you top that?  Add that a riveting post about paper towel usage has sat patiently on my back burner for 2 weeks now, and you can see my problem. 

Of course, I could write about something else, but I’m beginning to wonder, what's so wrong with a post on paper towel?  Why can't I seem to find room for that here?

This has forced me to think carefully about the point of this blog.  Can probes and paper towels comfortably share this cyber space?

Surprisingly, I think they do.  I set out to write about the family—the home—as it relates to the bigger picture outside.  A sort of untapped-power-of-the-homemaker kind of thing. 

Going to a protest, as Olivia and I did last week, demonstrates an explicit way that a family can participate in politics. Sometimes you even get a really exciting payoff.  In our case, I think the Virginia legislature was shocked to find 1,100 silent but furious men, women and children standing defiantly on their doorstep.

Thankfully, they couldn't take the heat.  I can see them now, blushing furiously at their sudden national association with vaginal penetration.  Consequently, they deferred their vote on the personhood bill until 2013 and favorably amended the sonogram bill

Such victories are a pretty big deal, and I admit, no matter how I might try to jazz it up, paper towel just isn’t that “sexy.”  Still, most people (including me) don’t have time to protest every day, or every week, or even every month, and standing on the picket line isn’t always the best way to address an issue anyway. Not to mention that many people simply aren't up for that kind of activism.  That’s perfectly OK. 

There are other ways to advocate for change—many of which don’t require extra time, effort, money or the occasional risk of arrest.  Eliminating something like paper towel from your kitchen is a great example of how to live purposefully—of how to make the everyday decisions of the household count for the bigger picture you’d like to see in the world.

So, if you don't want to march, chant, carry banners, or tie an intimidating black bandana around your face (or even if you do), you can always make your daily routine your protest. Make it your vote. 

The opportunities are limitless because:

everything we buy casts a vote,

everything we eat casts a vote,

everything we throw away casts a vote,

everything we teach our kids casts a vote …

regardless of whether we intend it to or not.

So why not make these decisions with intention?

As Mahatma Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” 

After Olivia and I dressed up in sneakers and slogans last week, we still had to return home—to our daily routine. 

What would we buy?

What would we eat?

What would we throw away?

In the course of doing those things, what would Gareth and Olivia learn about their own roles as citizens?

I don't believe there is such a gap between protesting probes and passing on paper towel.  Both represent political action.  They simply vary in their degree of confrontation, duration, and risk. 

Which gives me permission to write here about disposable stuff in the kitchen! 

Except I've come to the end. 


And still I have offered nary a word about our justifications or strategies for operating a paperless kitchen.  I suppose this writing serves as the post-probe paper-picker-upper PR, the paper towel hype that, by the time I sign off, will have everyone in a frenzy of anticipation for the long awaited...paper towel post.

Next time. 


  1. Hi Deb! Great Post, or pre-post. I firmly believe that we vote with all those things you mentioned above. Today I shopped at my local coop and paid, oh, three times as much as I would at a conventional store. But the produce is amazing (only bought organic, and local if possible) and the natural products are very interesting. I am really trying to be very mindful of the products we put on our bodies. Also, the more I read about cocoa production, the more I think I must seek out fair trade chocolate. To think that I buy treats for my family (and ME!) on the backs of child slaves is unacceptable! Regarding paper products, I can't go without, but I try to buy greener paper products and paper products with as little to no plastic wrapping as possible. Also, sham wow use, although it's more like Sham Meh, has saved some trees for us. So, how to NO paper towel in the kitchen? Also, the amount of laundry added must be considered, as I assume you will be using more cloth?

    1. Hey Franny, I'm eating chocolate covered almonds as i'm reading your comment, worrying about where they came from. ugh. i think i feel about my choc. covered almonds the way you feel about paper towel. the kitchen just has to have them! :) buying paper products that aren't wrapped in plastic is a nice compromise-I hate that plastic more than anything! we'll see what you think if i ever get around to this paper towel post! thanks for dropping by!