The tale of the tub scrubber

white and purple bath puffs

I’ve used the purple bath puff on the left in the photo above to scrub my bathroom sink and tub for eight years. Eight years! It’s a little shocking now that I count back. (Puff n’ me, we’ve done a lot of scrubbing. Good times.)

I received this puff has part of a gift set of bath items. I don’t enjoy using puffs in the bath, personally, so decided to try it out on the shower scum instead, and found it worked amazingly well in conjunction with the vinegar, soapy water and baking soda I use to clean the bathroom. It didn’t hold dirt or get grungy. Only now, after all this time, has it started to deteriorate and leave little purple bits of itself behind after a scrub.

This is not a deep post — I just wanted to point out that sometimes we can make good use of things which would otherwise end up in the garbage. Purple Puff is finally going to the trash, and will live out its sad, eternal half-life compressed in a landfill, but at least it served a purpose for a while, and did some good work. While I try to avoid buying plastics myself, it feels right to make good use of the plastic jetsam which tumbles into our lives.

At this point I could switch to biodegradable cleaning implements–like cotton rags and loofah sponges (which you can grow, if you have a long growing season!) — but in the back of my bathroom cabinet I have another gift puff, a white one, waiting to be called into service.

Do you have any plastic recycling tales to share?

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  1. I wonder, if you opened the purple scrubbie up – untied it – if it’s a tube, and you could cut off sections and tie them off for bags to put veggies in when you shop at the farmers market. Maybe there’s a little life in it yet.

    • Good notion in general–but it’s way too fragile for that anymore. It’s just falling apart at a touch these days. Perhaps the white one could be used that way, though? hmm.

    • Oh, you mean those little tag-things? Those would indeed make good labels for all sorts of items. (At first I thought you meant something more like a chip clip–and that always makes me think of Liz Lemon in 30 Rock using a chip clip in her hair. Another creative use of plastic!)

  2. On a related note, those protective plastic mesh wrappers that some stores put on wine and booze bottles make great scrubbers. Works for the sink and even tough spots on dishes/pans. Of course I wash well after using it. They’ve worked better than many store bought scrubbers and are really helpful on glass baking dishes that you don’t want to scratch up.

    • I’ve never seen mesh bags on booze– but I have done the same thing with mesh plastic onion bags. They do make good dish scrubbers.

    • As far as I know, LA recycling only takes items stamped with a recycling number, and plastic bags. But it’s worth checking again.

  3. I usually make use of all plastic that comes into my life. I reused the Miracle Whip jars to hold many things: Baking soda, coke caps as I enter codes, etc. I reuse the Kraft Parmesan Grated cheese plastic containers works for things to be sprinkled: baking soda for in the bathroom, Diatomaceous earth, etc. The baking soda is in the MW jar in the kitchen cabinet. There is another cheese shaker in the bathroom and one under the kitchen sink.

    I deliberately bought a cheap pint of vinegar so I could keep a bit of vinegar from the gallon in the bathroom. I have had that plastic pint for about ten years.

    Finally, I got so many of these containers, including cottage cheese/tub types. I resorted to removing them from the cabinet and now, I have a garbage bag full. My cabinets are less crowded.

    I plan to germinate and grow things in those. In the past when I could not use a shovel, I use them for scooping dirt, soil, sand. I take food to the chickens in plastic.

    Gallon vinegar jugs make good little greenhouses. I also cut off the top to plant things that don’t need a greenhouse.

    The ways I reuse plastic are innumerable. I bring little plastic into the house. Plastic lids made good spoon rests that can be thrown out instead of washing them. I hung the pink plastic puff I was given in the bathroom just because it was pale pink and pretty. Okay, I decorate with plastic.

  4. Could you please post a free link to the kindle version of your book?
    Since you are happy to post links to BBC without paying, I assume you are happy to do the same for your own work.

  5. My favorite plastic recycle is to use those big honkin’ plastic tubs that the spring mix comes in at Costco for keeping extra produce in the fridge in good shape. The new versions with their zip lids aren’t as good, so my stash of 7 or 8 of the old kind are precious to me now.

    But when you are awash in produce coming out the garden, it’s great to be able to wash it, roll it up in a good length of paper toweling (don’t use fabric towels- they just sour) and chuck it into the old lettuce box.

    I once kept a head of romaine in perfect condition for 5 weeks that way.

  6. We saved the plastic buckets (~ 3 gal.) that held the drywall filler for our walls. They are sturdy, and get used for everything… tool totes, garden produce, potting soil, firewood, etc. Our local bulk store also has food-grade plastic buckets which they sell for a dollar, cover included, after they are emptied. We have a few of those to hold clean water during stormy weather, when our electric power might go off in this rural area.

    We also use the empty vinegar jugs, which Practical Parsimony mentioned, for winter-sowing early cold-tolerant veggies. The jugs last several seasons if stored out of the sun when not in use. When they become brittle, I scrub the soil off and send them along in the recycle system. If I can get some organic apples pressed this fall, I’ll try making some homemade vinegar and use future jugs for this purpose.

    I cut up the flat parts of lids from plastic tubs into strips 3/4″ wide to use as plant labels for pots and seedling trays; write the names with a black Sharpie marker.

    Last year, the Ontario peaches started coming in clear 3 litre plastic rectangular containers. We cannot grow peaches in our colder zone, so we buy them, and ended up with lots of the containers. I discovered that they make good drawer organizers to hold office supplies, small tools, seed packets, art supplies, etc. Also useful for giving away homegrown veggies.

  7. I have made scrubbers out of the webbed bags that onions come in. They work. I have also made a fly swatter out of left over similar material making the handle out of an old metal hanger. It works. The best fly swatter I have is an ugly purple (plastic suede?) thing that was a gift from a family member who visited South Africa one year. It may be ugly, but it is best swatter I have! I love it!

    I don’t use personal scrubbers, but I do consider any sort of terry cloth very important “real estate.” Bath towels that are not working efficiently, and cannot be repaired any longer, and I do not give up easily, get turned into dish towels (tea towels), or wash/face/bath cloths. Tea towels and wash clothes that have served their purpose and cannot be repaired any further, are transformed into utility cloths. We stopped using paper towels long before “green” was even thought of. From utility cloths, they are re-purposed for those dirty repair jobs. We call them “Dad rags.” If the dirt is reasonable, even they are “washed” for another day. We exceed the approximate 10 yr lifespan of bath towels even before they get transformed!

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