Now’s a great time to work on consuming sustainable products to fight COVID-19.
It’s hard to draw a direct line between our instant-gratification/disposable society and the cause of COVID-19. (And yet, is it?)
However, it’s not hard to see that altering our sense of consumer entitlement will help us out of this pandemic.
There are several choices we can make, as a society, that simultaneously reduces our impact on the environment, saves us money, AND fights COVID-19. (And might help with online learning and homeschooling. Ugh.)
Everyone one of the following products is meant to reduce trips to the infected outer world.
But also? When you buy them, maybe DON’T go to Amazon (despite embedded links herein).
Try your local retailers or your hardware store.
BARS OF SOAP
You KNOW you don’t actually need to get a plastic bottle for gel soap. Using a bar of soap with your favorite washcloth or loofah or poofy thing is EXACTLY THE SAME. Pretend it’s olden-times. Save a buck. Be as chemically-based, hipstery, or French milled bougie as you wanna be. As a bonus – go LOCAL! The bars last longer, cost less, and serve the same purpose. And when you’re at the end of the bar, you can make your own bars just like your ancestors during the depression!
Reusable cleaning cloths like this bamboo version or this. These mean no more paper towels. And how amazing is that? No more runs on the Target shelves. They last for many months and are made of natural celluloid, saving trees and money and trips to the store.
Use an old-fashioned one that can be re-used ad nauseum. Go ahead and do some role-playing as the maid with an old school ostrich feather duster (or a new-school one). Or at LEAST re-use your Swiffer dusters. Here: I’ve made a video demonstrating the complexity of cleaning a swiffer duster. (Argh – swiffer makes me so mad with their disposability. It’s a RUSE, folks! They just want you to buy more unnecessary crap!!!)
Just get you some cheap aloe vera and some VODKA!!! (or cheap 99.9% rubbing alcohol) and make your own! Cut down on the constant purchasing of Purell bottles, refill your little bottles, etc. So much less waste and indubitably better for your hands and the environment, not to mention PRICE GAUGING.
No more need to give more cash to the big cleaning companies like P&G. Instead, make your own sanitizer and cut down on all those disposable mini-bottles of sanitizer.
Why not a shameless plug, here? Sustainable? Yes (it’s quality and won’t fall apart and you can use it for years after diapering days are over and you won’t be embarrassed by it and choose to trash it). Stylish? Obvi. Fights COVID-19? I mean…have you SEEN the instant access to wet wipes?
Talk about the epitome of single-use plastics. No more saran wrap, folks. It’s necessary and wasteful and definitely kills turtles looking for a jellyfish snack. If you still really want to support mega-corporations, at LEAST use Glad or Ziploc containers. But really – beeswax is sustainable and keeps food fresher.
Seriously – do we really need to have plastic pencils that get trashed? Like when our little kids discover the intense OCD joy of clicked, extract all the lead, and then you’re too lazy to shove all those fragile lead sticks back into the environmentally unfriendly plastic tubes? Yeah – get you a #2 and a fabulous sharpener like this or this. Put the kids to work sharpening, listen to them complain, and then start to sound like your grandmother when you lecture about how good they have it and that “It’s a pandemic, you little entitled shits!”
We are a consumer society. And thank goodness for delivery. Try to shop local, check out the hardware stores (it’s a magical place) and get these sustainable product to fight covid-19. (Can we call it CV19, yet? So much easier.)
Childhood in 2020 is very different from the 80’s and 90’s, and that’s all for the good. Safety and health are tantamount to parenting, as opposed to convenience and convenience back when we got to ride without seat belts munching a lunch of fruit roll-ups.
But we know things are better with shoulder restraints, air bags, educational television and a modicum of vegetables.
Nonetheless, I know my kids’ childhood in 2020 will be less fun than my own. In addition to my quick list of archaic pleasures, what will your kids miss out on?
Processed foods. I ate Mac’n Cheese, Kool-Aid, Fruity Pebbles, Pop Tarts and Fritos. And there was no about their nutritional value. But my kids will only have those on special occasions. (Like at the frequency of Haley’s Comet visits.) Now we worry about red dye, HFCS, and chemical additives that render food addictive. And we obsess over our kids eating vegetables. Actually, red dye confounds me. But I totally obsess over the veggies. In my childhood, canned creamed corn counted as a vegetable. And I will never serve that to my kids as a vegetable. Unless we’re camping. Actually, they can eat all those foods can be eaten when camping. All bets are off camping. But every day? Sorry guys. You’ll never have it as good as I did.
Seat belts. My dad drove a Volvo in the early 80’s. There was a black grip bar that inexplicably (to me) jutted out from the dashboard. When riding in that car, I’d hold onto the black handle to get myself as close to the front windshield as possible. Occasionally Dad would ask, “Gavin, please sit back and put on your seatbelt.” “No,” I’d respond. “Well, then,” he’d compromise, “at least lock your door.” Yeah, kids. That’s never going to happen, again.
And speaking of driving: the front seat by age three? Not gonna happen. Sorry. Please proceed to the back of the car with less of a view.
Saturday morning cartoons. My parents didn’t monitor me. I watched hours of cartoons until at least 11 AM. If I woke up early enough, I could catch the full 90 minutes of The Smurfs from 6:30 to 8. I didn’t have to worry about “what else was on” because I didn’t have a remote control. Few choices meant fewer worries. Now, let’s face it: with Netflix and YouTube, cartoons are less special and the sheer volume of videos at fingertips means less enjoyment and more worry what they’re missing. Instead, they schizophrenically tap between videos without indulging in the pleasure of calm watching. I lived for Saturday mornings. Kids, you’ll never know such bliss. I won’t allow it. Oh, and half hour of screen time. Tops. Except when daddy needs a break. So…whatever I say. And go read a book.
Classroom holiday parties with tons of sugar and nuts. Parents didn’t avoid the sweets and no one had allergies. Sorry, guys. With carrot muffins masquerading as “treats”, you’ll never have it as good as I did. Sorry. I have to play by the rules, now, too.
Russia was the bad guy. The world was black and white. Sure, I lay awake thinking about nuclear holocaust. But now? Yikes. Hurricanes, terrorists, cyclone bombs, CV-19, and Russia? Life seems more and more like an episode of 24 every twenty-four hours. I’ll do my darnedest to protect you. And I hope you don’t lie awake at night worrying. I’ll do the worrying for you.
Passing notes. I mean, I haven’t been in a junior high class in a long time. But passing notes, and the challenge of hiding it from the teachers? We lived for that. Plus, “do you like me? Mark the boxes ‘yes’ or ‘no’” is so much more titillating than sexting. Please, please don’t send naked pictures of yourself. Just draw them on paper and pass them in class. I’ll talk to the teacher if you get caught.
We didn’t have to be so friggin’ good. You have to volunteer for half a dozen philanthropies to qualify for junior high entrance, not , let alone college admissions. In my day, only serious over-achievers (with over-involved parents) did anything We watched Saturday morning cartoons and ate Frosted Flakes. You have it way worse, kids. I expect you to be volunteering for blood drives and writing non-profit grants by second grade. You’ll learn empathy, damn it.
What has my fatigue-fog made me forget? I want to know what your kids will miss out on in their childhood in 2020!
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During a recent conversation with parents about potty training kids to poop healthily, a friend of mine stated unequivocally, “Pooping in the ocean is the best.”
Meaning: when they are at the beach, they have no problem
just letting a turd slide out and float away.
I thought, “Really? It’s that easy? And don’t you think
that, even in the ocean, that’s pretty disgusting and a turd could float next
to a child who’s playing in the surf and they could ingest that shit?”
Then again, I get the curiosity…. you’re on a hike on the
NaPali Coast of Kauai and there is literally not a soul around you and you’re
on a gorgeous beach all to yourself and you might or might not be clothed and
you’re like, “Hm. I wonder what it would be like if…”
Not that I would know.
This all makes me think that we, as a society, are far too preoccupied with our bathroom habits. I mean – don’t get me wrong, I don’t want someone else’s poop floating past me. Ever.
But as a parent, I’ve had a lot of poop on my hands; and I
A couple of years ago, I had my kids in France visiting
family. We were at a playground and I had with me my own two kids and my niece.
Seconds after our arrival (and certainly after I’d said “before we got to the playground, anyone need to poo?), my older kid approaches saying, “Daddy? I need to go.”
Me: well, go behind the bush.
Kid 1: No…I need to poo.
So I grabbed my kiddo’s hand and we jogged over to public toilets that strike fear into the hearts of Americans – just two foot prints in the middle of a porcelain square with a hole in the middle. The French call them “Turkish toilets”, which I’m pretty sure is tremendously derogatory and not one that immigrated with the “technology” of a squat-and-hole. Oh, well.)
Anyway, yeah: a squat-over-the-hole-and-go.
Luckily, my kid wasn’t remotely fazed. When you gotta go…
So I hiked up her dress and watched as she squatted all the way down (surprisingly easily), one hand holding the dress, one hand paranoiacally on a questionably-dirty porcelain wall. She relaxed and went.
Phew. Crisis averted.
Then I looked around for toilet paper.
None to be round. Zero. Nope. No toilet paper.
Only after this visit to the squat-over-a-hole-and-go did I learn these Turkish toilets are meant to be a clean drop. Even in diarrheal emergencies, it’s how our bodies were designed, you don’t really need to wipe, and it’s how we should be pooping all the time, anyway. The toilet (most likely an invention by European royalty to separate us from the “savages” have resulted in generations of IBS, colon cancer, and hemorrhoids. We really just need to squat in the woods and go, like our ancestors.)
No toilet paper necessary.
But I digress.
So I’m looking around for toilet paper and see nothing. In
desperation, I searched in a trash can to see if there’s something, ANYTHING I can use.
My kid’s yelling at me from the toilet, still hovering.
I’m in a flop sweat frantically searching for anything for
I walk into the toilet and reach over to wipe my kid’s bare
It was completely clean (see aforementioned discussion of
A second sweep for good measure (still nothing), at which
point slow-motion set in:
I felt a movement in the breast pocket of my button-down shirt
as I slowly felt my Ray-Bans fall…
…out of my shirt…
…and straight toward the 4-inch Turkish hole of French poop.
One hand was wiping, the, the other hand steadying myself
against the wall, and I’m literally bent over my child who’s squatting under
me. The probability of a disaster where I fall on top of her and we both end up
sitting in a (remarkably clean) 3’x3’ porcelain basin that catches poop AND
pee, was high.
I couldn’t catch my glasses.
They fell out, circled the hole like those
quarters–in-a-spiral-thingy at museums, and plopped.
Into my kid’s poop.
And you bet your sweet ass I got my kid safely out of the
way and re-robed, and then I figured, “I already have one hand dirty,” and
reached into the hold and got my glasses.
They were shitty, for sure, but just a little bit. I washed
them at the sink, nearby (that didn’t have paper towels. Because of course it
didn’t) and, well…put them back in my pocket.
Fear not – I wasn’t going to wear them, and the shirt needed
That was a lot.
I happened to be at the playground with a friend (a French dad) and I asked him about the toilet paper situation, and he said, “Well, Gavin, that’s why French parents carry this.”
He pulled out Kleenex from his denim jacket.
Mind you, it was summer, hot as balls, and this guy wore a jacket to the playground. Because that’s how you do it in France. Shorts aren’t fashionable – it’s just the Germans who would wear shorts in public (along with their Birkenstocks and socks.) And you bring a jacket. Just in case. Or at least a scarf.
(And mind you – I love French scarf culture. We need to
adopt that, America. Do you realize how effective it is just to wear a scarf in the fall and spring? No jacket necessary.)
Seconds later, my younger kid told me he needed to poop.
I exchange a look with French dad friend, he hands me his
Kleenex, and away we go.
Second kid also needs to poop badly. And he’s never done a Turkish toilet, either. We run up, he squats, balances, all’s fine, no biggie. Funny how, in the moment, apparently potty training kids to poop healthily won’t stop them from squatting, like this. When you gotta go…
And thank goodness I won’t have to sully my hands, again.
So I’m soon to be royal-adjacent and I’m counting on taking selfies with Royals.
Last January, I received an email saying, “We’d like to schedule a five minute private call with you about the upcoming royal birth.”
My first thought was “Is this my long-lost cousin writing from a jail in Nairobi and needing $38,000 to get out?”
But, hey – I’m game. “I’m all ears.”
The woman explained she was calling from St. Jame’s House, a London Publishing Company, that publishes fancy coffee table books highlighting big British events like the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, royal weddings, and the 100th anniversary of Rolls Royce.
They were in the process of gathering “patrons” to be featured in the upcoming book, Our Royal Baby, to be launched after the christening of as-yet-unborn Archie, the child of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. And they wanted to feature, well…the best and/or coolest diaper bag for men.
As a “patron”, I’d be featured in this book as an “exciting new company on-brand with this Modern Royal Couple.”
In the words of my deceased grandfather, “If I had dentures, I’d have lost them.”
Mr. Robert Jobson, “the godfather of royal reporting” and official biographer to Prince Charles, would interview me and write the feature on my company.
In addition, I’d receive an invitation to the royal christening and an invitation to attend the book launch in London at the Ritz Hotel.
(Non sequitor: should I be capitalizing “Royal” and “Christening”? Golly gee whiz I’m such an American un-versed in R/royal etiquette.)
After picking up my jaw (or dentures) from the ground, I asked, “Well, this is astounding. How on earth did you find me? And will I be able to take selfies with Royals?”
The woman laughed and said “We have researchers constantly seeking innovative and stylish companies appealing to a royal sensibility.”
Aw, shucks. I’m blushing. I mean – I may not be selling tons of bags, but…
…apparently I’m doing something right? (Notice my desperation.)
“I mean, this is crazy. I can say the ultimate dream would be for Prince Harry to carry my bag.”
“Well, we can make that
happen,” my contact said, “though there’s no guarantee he would be photographed
with it. But Mr. Jobson can personally give a bag to the Prince.”
Yo – Sign. Me. Dafuq. Up.
So, skipping over lots of banal details about contracts, I became part of the Our Royal Baby team.
As weeks and months passed trading messages about new photography and editing copy, I felt like the people in the charming novel, 84 Charing Cross Road, in which an informal American book collector strikes up a written friendship with a formal British antique book seller. His Britishisms contrast hilariously with the American’s, well…American-ness.
Point being – I’m the crazy, informal American and I’m certain my new British friend, Dhruti, must look at my emails and think, “This chap is off his rocker.”
Moving along, over the summer, Megs and Harry held the christening of wee Archie with zero fanfare. (I guess St. James’s House hoped to invite me to London around that time. Did I harbor illusions of taking that desired selfie with Royals? Absolutely. But I suppose an “invitation” meant a literal paper document for framing.)
So St. James scheduled our book launch at the Ritz for just after Labor Day – because that’s convenient (except for un-cultured Americans. Eye roll.)
In the spring – several photo shoots took place. I was going for a uniquely New York scene in which I’m carrying the diaper bag and holding a (borrowed) baby. (Shout out to Adam’s photographic genius and Ashley loaning me her baby.)
Charmingly, before taking this picture (at left), I noticed a guy pause at the green pipe over my shoulder and stick something inside. Minutes later, as I was posing with little “borrowed baby”, another dude lingered down the road. I could sense we were in his way. It wasn’t hard to realize he was waiting to pick up from the green pipe behind us.
So…pretty much we did a fashion shoot in the midst of a drug deal.
(Ultimately, Dhruti passed on that pict. Clearly it wasn’t “on brand” for the royal couple. Oh, well. It was on brand for NYC.)
In other news, I had dubbed the bag “The Frenchie” because the blue/red racing stripes reminded me of the French flag. But then I figured “Frenchie” probably was not on brand with the Royals, so it was re-dubbed “The Windsor.”
Months passed, designs and wording of the editorial page were finalized, and I spent the summer hemming and hawing over whether to attend the party at the Ritz.
Finally, I figured, “I’m most likely going to come back utterly empty-handed. But I’ve invested this much, and I have the AmEx miles for a free trip. This seems like exactly the right frivolous trip on which to cash in.”
So: I’m here. In London.
Ready to be Royal-adjacent.
Not holding my breath for taking selfies with Royals, Megs and Harry.