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Consumer Watch

Cane Identification

A friend with a cane of a new design was chagrined at a recent social event, accidentally taking the canes of two other participants - because all three were identical!

The solution? Personalize: decorate canes - walkers, wheelchairs - with stickers, bands of colored electrical insulation tape {'Isulir-band'}, a colorful wrist strap, or simply put on a sticker with the owner's name.

No sticker? Create one: write/print the name on a small piece of paper, place on a clear spot, and carefully tape over the print and around the edges using clear Scotch tape. Or cut-out and reuse the name part of stickers put on medication labels {minus other info, of course!} and cover with clear tape.

Sun Cape / Poncho 

In fierce sunlight it's often too hot to wear long sleeves, and a parasol or repurposed umbrella are inconvenient or impossible in any kind of breeze.

The solution is a light sun cape or poncho: they free up the hands, allow airflow for cooling and give protection from those burning rays. A shoulder bag can even be worn underneath.

Simple cape/poncho patterns are available on the Internet: look for one that reaches from neck to wrist.

In my case, an old circular tablecloth supplied a light, durable, no wrinkle – and pretty – cape, with a drawstring at the throat. A poncho is even easier: two oblong pieces of material [the length should be double the width] joined to form a point front and back.

Any opaque, lightweight material should do well.

Note: Weigh down the hem of the cape a little, otherwise it may blow over your head if you turn your back to a stiff breeze.

New Towels for Old 

When ribbing on those good quality towels starts to fray, don't throw them away: buy ribbon in a matching or contrasting color - or create your own bias binding - and sew the tape onto the edges. Not only does it double (even triple) the life of your towels, it adds a personal touch – even a designer look.

And if you don't sew? Find a seamstress or upholstery shop that will do it for you... only make sure the ribbon or tape used does not scratch.

Food Fun 

Courtesy of Fonda Dubb

A Spaghetti Spoon [deep bowl, drain hole, long teeth around the rim] has other uses:
~ to remove eggs and same-sized items from hot liquids
~ to mold rice portions.

Perfect Salad Toss
Pour salad dressing into the bottom of the bowl before adding the veg – t h e n toss. It distributes the dressing more evenly.

Stain Remover 

Many food stains can be prevented or removed by mopping and dabbing with a wet wipe - the sooner the better. A recently tomato soup stained shirt looked like it had just come from the laundry, and it worked well on a tablecloth, too!

Wastepaper Baskets 

Large, cheap plastic planters make attractive Wastepaper Baskets.

An ordinary plastic vegetable bag lines a 22cm wide x 25cm tall bucket/bin nicely.

Which Shopping Bag / Tote?

Recent studies of different types of shopping bags came up with the following estimates of how much carbon dioxide gas each type of bag produced in the making:

* Ordinary handled ["rabbits' ears"/ 'guffia'] plastic shopping bag = 1.6kg {+/-equivalent to a car driving 6 km]
* Paper bag = 5.5 kg (including tree loss)

* Cotton tote = 272 kg

These results were offset by how many times each bag could be used and how bio-degradable they are.

Times used: Plastic = twice Paper: 3 times Cotton Tote: 130-140 times

Biodegradability: Plastic = centuries Paper: 90 days Cotton Tote: months

A fourth option combines the best features of plastic and cotton: sturdy shopping totes made of Polyester, Vinyl (PVC), Pet, and Rip-Stop Nylon have a lower carbon imprint and can be reused for years.

Two More Options:

1) Turn discarded clothing into distinctive, personalized totes.

2) Convert various types of plastic bags into 'plarn' (plastic yarn) for crocheting or Tunisian crocheting.

The former takes less time/effort, the latter is more labor- and material-intensive.

The Plarn option – perfected during lockdown – is more versatile for making shopping totes, shopping-cart panniers, small/medium candy baskets, a shower mitten, gift bags and key-ring sheaths. The results can be aesthetically pleasing, durable, and hand-washable with a little soap and dash of bleach for disinfection. And satisfying: knowing all that 'waste' isn't wasted!

Small tote and shopping cart pannier made of plarn Image credit: Fonda Dubb

Where Are My Glasses? 

Anyone who needs eye glasses knows the (often sulfurous) frustration of searching for a lost or misplaced pair.

Fortunately cheap reading glasses (aka 'magnifiers') are sometimes usable for short periods of time: I bought several pairs and stashed them strategically next to the computer, in the bedroom, the kitchen, at work, and in my purse. Over time most of them were replaced with prescription pairs - so now my glasses are waiting wherever I need them!

Guard Your Purse! 

An elderly woman rushed up to the main cashier in the supermarket. "Lock the doors!" she said, "I've just been robbed!" She had left her purse, zipped closed, in the children's seat of her shopping-cart. When she turned back from choosing a ripe melon... the purse was open and her wallet gone.

It was too late to 'lock the doors,' but she was told to file a complaint with the police. I offered to pay for her groceries and cab fare home but she refused, saying she still had her phone and someone would come for her.

I wouldn't kick her when she was down, but I've known the golden purse rules for over 50 years:

* NEVER leave a purse in a shopping cart, under or on the back of a chair, i.e., anywhere out of sight!

* NEVER, EVER keep cash, credit cards and ID together in the same wallet!

Distilled Water? - NO WAY! 

I collect air conditioner runoff from neighbors' outlets to water the nearby municipal flowerbed and some of my own plants. Time and again passersby call out: "Oh yes, it's distilled water."


It has no minerals, but air conditioning runoff is condensed from AIR: it contains all the germs, bacteria, dust particles and chemicals (like smog) that the air does! The only thing it IS good for is watering plants.... and mopping floors - after adding 1Tbs. of chlorine bleach per liter.

Real, honest-to-goodness DISTILLED WATER has no minerals OR chemicals and is completely STERILE until the container is opened, or it is past its expiry date.

When I asked my husband, a pharmacist and pharmacologist, if a/c runoff could be used for drinking in an emergency he gave me an indescribable look and said "Yes: after ten minutes at a rolling boil!" Ouch! Tap water only needs a 3-minute boil!

So the next time someone tries to sell that canard just think of how many steam irons and car batteries have been ruined because of penny-pinching, instead of buying the real thing from a pharmacy.

Be Prepared 

1.Candles, Matches and Holder

Old timers remember when power failures were a regular part of winter. Matters have improved over the decades but it's still second nature to keep candles, matches and a holder within easy reach.

A good thing too: when the grid was recently damaged in the dead of night and it took about two hours to resort power, the candles came in very handy indeed...

2.Water in Reserve

Burst water mains were once frequent, so keeping seven 4-liter bottles of tap water full became a habit; 30-odd liters of drinking water available at any given time.

I was thinking of getting rid of those bottles... until a privately-owned water main burst on a very hot day this summer. It took nearly 6 hours to restore service to our neighborhood – so I'm keeping my water bottles, and keeping them full, for now. 



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Wednesday, 19 June 2024

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