Queering the home: environmentalist tackles paper goods

I decided I’ve probably been a bit of an ass toward my roommate. She’s shy, but I shouldn’t hold that against her. I’ve been loud and inconsiderate at times, but it’s not my apartment. I’ve been more mindful lately, and I think I could do better.

I was probably mad that my old roommate moved out and into an apartment with the girl I used to have a huge crush on, so a bit of jealousy came back up for me and a feeling of abandonment. Then another friend bailed on living with me, last minute; then a few other friends considered moving in and nobody actually did, so I felt really bummed. I also had the apartment to myself for a few weeks before my new roommate moved in and I’d sort of taken over the place meanwhile; it didn’t feel awesome to then have a stranger in the space that had been taken up by a friend.

I could always stand to be nicer and not take my frustrations on other people. Especially especially since she’s a first year student and I’m a 4th year; I’m well established while she’s far away from her support network. Given how fucking horrible a track record the PhD has with students’ mental health (something like 50% of academics have depression, it’s pretty fucked up) I need to remember that my actions have an effect on those around me. Nothing has happened of course, but well, maybe I’ve been interpreting my roommate’s withdrawal as antisocial behavior when really it’s a symptom of stress and man, I promise to not take things so personally when someone doesn’t automatically hug me and scratch my belly (metaphorically speaking). We all have our shit.


Anyways. During the inter-roommate era of 2015, I did a thorough cleaning, and then moved a bunch of stuff around. When a senior roommate leaves (in this case my roommate had pulled me into the current place) whoever is left can choose the bedroom, so of course I chose the big bedroom. Now I’ve got myself a really nice space to eat, sleep, work, and entertain. It feels very homey.

I used most of a roll of paper towels in all the cleaning I did, plus a ton of pocket tissue packs while getting through a cold, and a whole lot of swiffer mop things… and I started thinking man, wouldn’t it be nice to not have to buy and store paper products, plus chemically-laden cleaning materials? Mostly I feel like shit about the landfill waste to which all the paper goods contribute. I’ve eliminated several sources, but the biggest shift that weirds people out is in my cleaning routine.

So here are the ways I’m queering my cleaning. Ready?


  • I like the Swiffer’s maneuverability and control relative to floppy mops which spread dirt around and also cannot be detached so they just collect dirt forever and ever, so I now use a washable cloth thingie that I bought on Etsy to fit a Swiffer; you can basically use a terry towel or sew your own though. I use it like a mop cloth: I soak it in floor cleaning solution (when I use it up, I’m gonna use a vinegar-based floor cleaning solution), mop an area, rinse it out in the sink, and then re-soak it in the clean solution. Keeps the mop bucket clean, keeps me from using 3 swiffer pads in one go. Then I just hang it and let it dry thoroughly. Every once in a while I bleach it or toss it in the laundry. Done.


  • I use microfiber dish cloth with a scrubbing mesh. Dries thoroughly when I hang it up, and it’s gentle enough that I can toss it in with my laundry, so again I don’t have to keep replacing gross sponges. There are also more sponge-looking ones available. Basically, I feel they’re way more sanitary and eco-friendly than smelly sponges.
  • I keep a stack of bleachable towels to clean up messes instead of paper towels. I just spray down a surface with a water+vinegar+essential oil mix and wipe. I also use these as napkins if needed. Once in a while I bleach them; usually I just toss them in the laundry.
  • For broken glass+liquid though, I still use paper towels.


  • I use one of the microfiber+scrubbing mesh cloths to wipe/scrub.
  • I clean surfaces, shower curtains, etc. with water+bleach+liquid soap solution.
  • I clean the tub with Comet. Maybe I’ll do baking soda next, but Comet works great. It’s a tub. The soap scum must be destroyed.
  • My old roommate used to use tons of Drano; I just suck it up and pull the damn hair out of the drain. It makes me gag less and less each time I do it. Then I bleach the crap out of the work area and wash my hands and face with tons of soap. Blech. Better than an ineffective drain-declogging chemical every several weeks.
  • Wet microfiber towel for the mirror every once in a while, then wipe after it with a dry microfiber towel. I just wet one end of it and then dry it with the other end. Just water and microfiber. Pretty simple. I can even use a clean one of those dish cloths, as long as it’s some kind of lint-free fabric.

There you go. The glamorous life of a wannabe-eco-friendly clean freak. Next to come is how I green the rest of my routine, because I fucking feel bad about my modern lifestyle so here’s what I do.

By the way I haven’t eaten meat in 2 days and I’m really feeling the hunger, despite eating a ton of avocado, eggs, protein shakes, cheese and apple, even a little smidgeon of pickled herring. Plus cookies and chips. Ugh this is so rough…


2 thoughts on “Queering the home: environmentalist tackles paper goods

    • Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll look for Bon Ami.

      I do have a hair catcher! It just doesn’t 100% stop hair from working its way under… I don’t know why. It’s one of the great mysteries of the world.


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