Lesser-known ways to ameliorate coronavirus crisis
April 18, 2020 1:11 AM   Subscribe

I'm not looking for the well-known things we should all do that every media outlet has already covered every day. I'm looking for ideas that haven't been much promoted, but would be helpful. There is not one correct answer to my question. The right answer is for us to put together a lot of ideas among which different people can pick and choose or combine in accordance with their circumstances. To help get things started, the "more inside" section includes one way to fight the rolling toilet paper shortages--a way that I've already experimented with.

One method (and two bonus methods?) to say "f**k the toilet paper shortage:"

1. Save all advertising circulars and other newspaperish things received.

2. With clean hands, tear some pages into strips the size of a few sheets of toilet paper, and store on the back of your toilet (on top of the toilet tank.) (Prefolding the paper along the desired tear line before tearing can help to get a straighter tear. Or you could use scissors, I don't care.)

3. Get a plastic bag such as a used plastic grocery bag.

4. Check the bag for holes or small tears.

5. Block hole(s) using tape, and/or by tying off the part of the bag that has the hole.

6. Hang bag in a convenient place in the bathroom. Turn back the edges of the opening, to help you keep from fouling those edges when you...

7. For first part of your post-pooping wiping, use torn strips of paper.

8. To finish up your wiping, use official toilet paper if you have it.

With a few days' practice, I seem to have reduced my use of toilet paper for #2 by 30% to 70%. (It can help if I spread my legs more, because advertising circulars are less flexible than regular TP.)

Bonus methods: A few other TP-conserving ideas that people with the right materials could try: https://ask.metafilter.com/217980/Non-toilet-paper-cultures . One might work for someone who has a properly shaped squirt bottle (save, thoroughly clean, and repurpose your hand dishwashing detergent bottles?) and another ("family cloth(s)") might work for a household that has their own washing machine and plenty of bleach and detergent.

If we assemble enough good ideas for ameliorating the coronavirus crises, we can put together a guide or something like that.
posted by cattypist to Society & Culture (37 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I seem to have forgotten step 9:

9. With clean hands, tie the bag shut.

People with expertise in dealing with dirty diapers could pitch in here?
posted by cattypist at 1:15 AM on April 18

Take vitamin D. Here’s why. I know that we hear this sometimes - but not enough or with sufficient explanation.
posted by rongorongo at 1:24 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]

[Just a quick note on this: As a "looking for lesser known solutions to Coronavirus issues," query this is okay, and we can proceed with that. However, here, as everywhere on the site (and elsewhere!), we want to be careful about promoting hoax cures, disinformation, and similar, and nothing posted here should be considered vetted / professional advice. Additionally, while sharing a url is fine, Ask Metafilter doesn't do things as group projects for publication or distribution, and this should not be considered such an effort. As a normal Ask Me question (what are ideas for dealing with X) this is fine. Thanks.]
posted by taz (staff) at 2:00 AM on April 18 [19 favorites]

To get round the toilet paper shortage, buy a personal hygiene bottle. When you're done shitting, you use it to wash and clean your butt and then you'll only need a couple of squares of TP to dry yourself with.

Seriously, I am evangelical about these things. I've been using one for a few years - I have one in the bathroom and one in my backpack in case I'm taken short when I'm outside (in the days when 'outside' used to happen). I would never, ever go back to using just toilet paper to clean my butt now.

For less than $10 I promise you this will change your life.
posted by essexjan at 2:42 AM on April 18 [8 favorites]

This is not an actual solution that exists but I wish grocery stores would let you produce a grocery list with the shelf locations of all the items. Aisle locations would be good, but actual shelf location would be amazing. You can do this at, like, Home Depot, and I’m sure there’s employee-facing software that does it for the grocery store (for stocking, Instacart-type stuff, etc.). I feel like if more people made lists and knew where to look for stuff grocery store crowding could be reduced significantly. Obviously there would still likely be problems with things not being on stock.

Heck, even a map of the store with aisle names would be great! I want to go get a few things that I only ever get from my local very large Stop & Shop, but I only go there once every month or two so I know it will take me forever to find things. My pre-lockdown trip took ages.

(Actually I just realized that you can do this with some work on the Wegman’s website so maybe I’ll try them this week.)
posted by mskyle at 3:50 AM on April 18 [16 favorites]

To get round the toilet paper shortage, buy a personal hygiene bottle. When you're done shitting, you use it to wash and clean your butt and then you'll only need a couple of squares of TP to dry yourself with. [...]

I think right now this seems like a mostly great idea. When I followed the Amazon link the first thing I noticed was:

Get it as soon as June 8 - 29 when you choose Standard Shipping at checkout.
Only 10 left in stock - order soon.

So, has anyone built their own improvised personal hygiene bottles with items that are presently readily available? (If I succeed in doing this, I will post to mefi, but not until I have a proven method.)
posted by cattypist at 4:26 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]

Seeds for vegetable gardens are in very short supply and the suppliers I use are not even taking orders. (I order in January so I will be giving some seedlings to neighbors.) Two crops you can grow from the grocery store are potatoes and sweet potatoes. They provide a useful amount of calories for space taken and being vegetatively propagated they don't have the issue of reverting like seeds from hybrids. However, they are not certified disease-free so they should be planted in a different spot in subsequent years.
Beans are tempting as a protein source but I have had disappointingly low yields for the space required. I'd like to hear about any other food growing possibilities and especially any way to get a good crop from grocery store beans.
posted by Botanizer at 4:32 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]

^^^ I save the white rootlet end from green (spring) onions and stick them in the ground/pot. They grow easily and add a nice fresh touch to meals.
posted by mightshould at 4:44 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]

Get it as soon as June 8 - 29 when you choose Standard Shipping at checkout.

cattypist, search for 'peri bottle' on eBay or Amazon. It's the exact same thing but marketed for women who've had an episiotomy during childbirth, so they can wash the wound. You'll find them in stock for delivery in the next few days.
posted by essexjan at 5:31 AM on April 18 [10 favorites]

I should have done this pre-pandemic, but I finally typed up a master grocery list so I won’t forget things when I order online. It includes staples, healthful snacks, and stuff that shows up in some recipes I use, but that I don’t think of as staples (Thai chili paste, anyone?).

BTW, I go to the same store all the time, so I always write up my grocery lists in the order in which stuff appears when I go to a physical store. I can attest that it makes shopping much easier.
posted by FencingGal at 5:31 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]

Here you go, cattypist.
posted by essexjan at 5:35 AM on April 18

For a diy personal hygiene bottle, take pretty much any clean spray bottle in your house, unscrew the top and take out the little tube that goes to the bottom of the bottle. Now you have a spray bottle that will work upside down. Fill with water and go to town.

Obviously don't use something that you've used for toxic chemicals; also a small bottle like a travel hairspray will be easier to maneuver than a one-liter home depot bottle, but a larger bottle with a trigger will generally be more powerful than a small one with a pump-type top.
posted by mskyle at 5:36 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]

Italy is not experiencing toilet paper shortages like we are in the U.S. Every Italian household has a bidet. Correlation or causation? I think causation :) Bidets are awesome, and at least pre-pandemic, you could get a non-fancy one for $30 to install on your toilet. Now those are gone, but you can still get fairly nice ones for $70 or so. A worthwhile investment to save pretty majorly on TP!
posted by dubhemerak3000 at 5:37 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]

If getting a peri bottle is not possible, consider Tabo. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabo_(hygiene)

Some people know about home made oral rehydrating solution. Recipes from actual medical sources should be used. This is much less expensive than pedialyte and much better (plus cheaper) than sports drinks. If you get the virus, you may need heavy duty home dehydration and pedialyte may be in short supply.

Based on my next door neighbor getting the virus, I suggest having at least two sets of bed sheets. They woke up sweaty in the middle of the night and every morning and ended up ordering a second set of sheets to reduce laundry frequency/or be able to sleep in clean sheets while other set was washing. I have bought a second pair of super soft cozy pajama pants because I owned only one pair before.

Neighbor had poor appetite while ill, so things like single serve hummus containers were very helpful, no need to worry about a big container going uneaten, or being left at room temp if they fell asleep.

Be in touch with neighbors. I was a able to leave groceries/supplies at the door, and do laundry for my neighbor because we already were friends.

For long term solutions to current issues, please call your elected officials to let them know what you want them to do, and to thank them when they vote in accordance with what you want. Also support get out the vote efforts like Fair Fight and Vote Save America, either financially or with your time.

Finally, everybody has heard about contributing to food banks, with cash being the best way to give. But diaper banks get less attention. If you have money to give, please consider funding menstrual products, diapers, and/or adult incontinence products for people in your community. ‘Diaper bank’ is a good search term to get you started.
posted by bilabial at 7:06 AM on April 18 [9 favorites]

You can make the paper strips softer by crumpling them and rolling the crumpled balls between your hands, then uncrumpling. (Source: a lot of people in my family grew up with outhouses!)
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:17 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]

With respect to the suggestion in the OP... don't flush things that aren't toilet paper. (You can still use substitutes, but they should go in the trash. The sewer system isn't designed to deal with other kinds of paper.)
posted by trig at 7:19 AM on April 18 [16 favorites]

So I used cloth diapers for my kids and just figured I would use rags and wash them if it comes to that.

For cloth diapers, I kept a diaper pail with a lid in the bathroom. The pail also had water in it. You can add some bleach. I rinsed the diaper in the toilet before putting it in the pail, usually flushing while holding the diaper (hold tight! I flushed a whole diaper once). When the pail was pretty full, I dumped the whole thing in the washing machine and washed in hot water with bleach. People have been trained to think disposable diapers are a necessity, but they’re really not, at least if you have a washing machine. My daughter uses cloth even now. My mother-in-law, born in the 1920s, told me that menstrual rags were handled in basically the same way as I handled diapers. That I would not want to go back to.
posted by FencingGal at 8:27 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]

Everyday during this crisis (and even before) I am thankful that we installed an on-toilet bidet after we experienced it's magic traveling through Asia. Heated seats, significantly cleaner, one wipe with 2-3 sheets and we're done. Significantly reduced toilet paper usage, which we liked for environmental reasons.

The cardboard boxes that our shipments have come in have become crafting materials. We've ordered a lot of essentials through them, but trying to reduce non-essential orders and plastic usage. With a glue gun and scissors, we've made toy rocket ships, toy planes, toy car playsets out of cardboard together with our three year old.

We certainly aren't self sufficient with food but have taken pains to put in a lot of easy to harvest seedlings like kale in small patio raised planters. Our kale grows such that we're able to get a side salad for two people once a week per box.

Doordash and all the food delivery apps are parasites. If you're looking to support your local restaraunt/take out joint, call them and order directly over the phone and pick up the food. They lose as much as 30% through the delivery apps so you're not actually supporting.
posted by Karaage at 8:44 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]

Bidet attachments are great and under $20. I always joke that the solution to the toilet paper issue is a bidet and blow dryer, but it makes sense.

I just leave most of my groceries in the car for 3 days, or put them directly in the freezer and leave untouched for a few days.

Tomorrow I am foraging for miner's lettuce for fresh greens.

As much as I want to rip out the giant blackberry bush in my yard, this year I will water it and harvest as many blackberries as possible.

I created a fb group for my neighbors, so we can pick up prescriptions, groceries, etc. for each other.
posted by MountainDaisy at 8:55 AM on April 18

This is not an actual solution that exists but I wish grocery stores would let you produce a grocery list with the shelf locations of all the items.

The Walmart app will do this for shopping lists and whatever store location you select.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:28 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]

I do this anyway and maybe everyone else in the world does too (how does anyone know except Metafilter discussions?), but if you fold toilet paper into quarters / sixth, you only really use one or two squares.

A friend of mine mentioned postural drainage. Looks relaxing; can't hurt; might help clear lung congestion.
posted by batter_my_heart at 9:49 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]

I always joke that the solution to the toilet paper issue is a bidet and blow dryer, but it makes sense.

The fancier bidets like the TOTO line also have built in air dryers!
posted by Karaage at 9:50 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]

I've been sanitizing the world as I have to go into it. I make some bleach wipes before I leave, and then if I have to get the mail, I wipe the mailbox. If I have to go to the drugstore, I wipe the door handles as I enter, etc. It's not a big help I'm sure, but if everyone was sanitizing as they go, we would have less fomites.

Everyone here is desperate to get outside and go for walks: great. Pick up trash while you go then. It won't help the coronavirus, but it would help the tidiness of our city and path system!

and I have a few grocery tips to keep you at home more:
-milk freezes really well.
-if you separate eggs they freeze great as well. People say you can like, just crack eggs into muffin tins and they freeze well whole, but I haven't ever tried that one. Eggs also last way longer than their best before date on the carton. You'll know if an egg is bad.
-ricotta cheese freezes okay if you want to use it in pancakes or cakes, etc after you thaw it, but not great for just eating straight.
-butter also freezes great. You can freeze most dairy products. Some cheeses even.
-People who can't get yeast are making sourdough starter, which is great as long as you have access to like, a LOT of flour. Sourdough is a flour hog. Consider making biscuits, beer breads and irish soda breads as alternatives to save flour if you can still get baking soda and/or powder (these are weirdly available in my city even though there's no yeast.) Beer bread is also a great use of beer you don't like that has been chilling in your house for a long time (I'm looking at you, weird bottled guinness that someone left here!)
-fermentation is fun and quite easy! If you can get a single bottle of unflavoured kombucha, you can convert it into starter tea and soon you'll have more kombucha than you know what to do with! Fruit and tea wines are also easy to make if you want to do it in kind of a homesteady way and not a "very professional winemaking" way! "Artisanal Small Batch Brewing" is a great book to start you on your unprofessional journey!
posted by euphoria066 at 10:13 AM on April 18

A lot of good suggestions so far, but my most urgent comment is to support trig's warning not to flush the advertising circular strips.

I managed not to explicitly mention it, but the reason for the fuss with the plastic bag is so you can neatly bag your dirty strips of paper, not flush them down the toilet.

So I should have said something like

7. For first part of your post-pooping wiping, use torn strips of paper, which you dispose of by carefully putting them into the plastic bag without fouling the bag's outside nor the edges of its opening. (Because do you want to have to try get a plumber to unplug your toilet in the middle of a coronavirus crisis at crisis rates? I didn't think so.)
posted by cattypist at 10:42 AM on April 18

I save the white rootlet end from green (spring) onions and stick them in the ground/pot. They grow easily and add a nice fresh touch to meals.

The same concept works for many other plants too. I'm currently regrowing a celery plant and some baby bok choy (which are very adorable) in a small amount of water. Hopefully they'll survive planting outside when it's a little warmer, and even if they don't, it's nice to watch them growing in the meantime.
posted by randomnity at 10:56 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]

Also, if you are having trouble finding things like tomato seeds, you can plant the seeds from the actual fruits/veggies IF you can find some that are heirloom.
posted by randomnity at 11:02 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]

Another one: for folks who are alone and don’t want to eat a whole head of celery: get some carrots and onions, chop them all up and make mire poix. Then freeze in quart size bags in amounts you would use for however much soup you generally make at one time. Lay flat in the freezer so the bag is an easily storable shape and once it’s frozen you can stand them upright.

Instead of making a banana bread with my soft bananas, I’m going to make a batch of banana pancakes and freeze them flat on parchment to reheat and eat later as I want them. This is going to mean some serious freezer shuffle, and I think it will be worth it.
posted by bilabial at 11:03 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]

menstrual rags were handled in basically the same way as I handled diapers. That I would not want to go back to.

You don't have to. You throw the rags in a laundry basket folded so that the scary part's inside and won't stain anything. After Aunt Flo concludes her monthly visit, you throw the week's worth of rags into the washer and wash a small load. Let it go through to the final rinse, then stop before the spin cycle, throw a full load of dark clothes on top, switch the washer to medium or large depending on size, add more soap, and wash again. Dry as usual. Done for the month and you didn't spend sixteen of your hardearned dollars on stupid overpriced bullshit plus if it happens to be a pandemic and everybody's buying out the stores, you don't have to drive around searching for disposable menstrual rags.

If you use cotton rags for coffee filters, same deal. Rinse them into a bowl or a pot and dump the rinsewater outside or into acid-loving plants. (DO NOT rinse them over the sink so that coffee grounds go down the drain.)

Same for dishwashing sponges/dishrags. Save and wash together with bleach if you like. You don't have to go to the store for these things.

Same for napkins, tea towels--wash together. You don't have to buy paper napkins when there are no paper napkins.

Same for dustrags, floor rags, cleaning rags. You don't have to buy paper towels when there are no paper towels.

You do kindof have to worry a little about how much you rely on your washing machine and what will happen when it dies.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:11 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]

Further pursuant to not having to call the plumber:

My boyfriend's parents used to have a restaurant and his mother taught me this: it's not enough to just pour off grease into a can and throw it away, you should wipe any remaining grease off of pans and plates before washing them or throwing them into the dishwasher to keep as much grease as possible out of the pipes. She uses old newspaper or paper towels for this, but I use fabric scraps or dryer lint paper.

Dryer lint paper:
Take the lint out of the lint trap, press it flat between your hands, run a few drops of water over the little pancake, squeeze it between your hands so all the lint gets wet, then squeeze out any excess. Dry your lint pancake somewhere convenient to the kitchen sink so you can grab a little lint sheet to wipe out your frying pan so bacon grease doesn't go down the drain.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:19 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]

No hand sanitizer? whatever!
Grab one of those translucent plastic to-go containers they give you when you can't eat all the pho you ordered. They're pretty leakproof. Put in a cup or so of tapwater and several generous squirts of dishwashing liquid. grab a rag. Throw all this in the car. After your weekly shop, dip your rag in your soapy water and lather up your hands for two happybirthdays. Grab the seatbelt, doorhandle, carkeys, gearshift, and steering wheel all with the soapy rag. Signal turns, adjust the radio, flip on the windshield wipers, etc. all with your soapy rag. When you get home, you can use it to open your car door and close it and open the door to the house. Toss the rag in your floor-rag basket to wash for next time. Wash your hands for real with running water and soap.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:28 PM on April 18 [4 favorites]

I use a small sized dish detergent bottle for pericare. You squeeze it and the water comes out in a good sized stream. It's small enough you can angle it to get at hard to reach areas and easy to fill with comfortably hot water at the bathroom sink before you sit down.

My pharmacy has been regularly coming to my house with prescriptions for various household members. It's free delivery and they now prefer to deliver all prescriptions to keep you from coming to the store. They will also deliver the other things they sell with no delivery charge at the same time as they deliver your prescription, and they have a robust delivery service that does same day most of the time. I try to make sure I get something else we need with every prescription delivery - polysporin, vitamins, hand lotion, potato chips... They will only deliver a few items not a bunch of bulky things like milk and canned food, even though they also sell those, but it makes a big difference.

Test your masks before you sew them up. If you can't breath through them you needn't bother making them. If they don't even discourage moisture from going through them don't bother making them either. Test them using water. If they will slow moisture going through them but let some go through they will help keep your germs inside the mask. Use a fabric that wicks rather than a synthetic that doesn't absorb moisture. That sounds wrong, but makes a big difference. You want the moisture to soak into the fibres and make them expand to block more moisture, not to simply pass through.

Restrict fluids and pee before you leave the house. You really don't want to use a public washroom if you don't have to. Nor do you want to have to go home earlier than you planned and cut an expedition short and then have to go out again sooner.

Take a decongestant like Benedryl before you leave the house. It cuts down on the moisture you produce and makes you less likely to want to touch your nose. People will appreciate you not sneezing even if it's just your allergies.

Carry a large zip lock bag to put things like your rubber gloves etc. into. You can always leave the bag for a week to allow any germs to die and thus may get to reuse the supplies - especially if you can't source singe use gloves and are using regular washing up gloves. Put the bag in your pocket open with the rim turned back down a short way so that you can drop contaminated things into it without touching the outside of the bag.

Make a plan for whenever you are about to break "sterile" procedures, such as if you are going to rip your mask off and blow your nose. Otherwise you will be standing there with one hand sticking out in each direction trying to figure out how to unzip your pocket without using both hands. For many people designating the right hand the dirty hand and the left hand the clean hand helps, but don't touch your right hand with your left. Obviously this merely reduces transmission a little bit, and doesn't make you safe, but every little bit helps.

Walk around outside with your hands stuffed into your pockets so that you know where they are and what they are doing. This helps prevent adjusting your mask unconsciously or turning things around to read the label before you remember, oops, you are supposed to only touch what you are definitely going to buy. You can also clasp your hands behinds your back. This is a classic technique for children so they won't touch things in shops but it's a good thing for adults to do now too.

Carry your bank card or credit card in your pocket, not your wallet, and not in your wallet inside your purse, so it is easy to take out when making purchases. Prepare to split your grocery order into batches so that each one comes under the tap limit on your card.

Before you leave the house make sure you empty your pockets and bags of anything you can't easily sterilize but don't want to lose, such as paper identity cards, or photographs. You may end up with a problem if you end up contaminating your credit card and then shove it into your wallet beside your only picture of your late brother which you've been carrying around to remember him by.

When driving allow pedestrians to cross without the pedestrian signal - don't make them touch the buttons. If they want to cross as if there was no pedestrian light let them.

Watch out for using your elbow to avoid touching things with your hands. You may need that elbow to sneeze into. If you have previously hooked it around a door handle to get it open and then bury your nose in the place you have recently wrapped around a potential vector you won't feel very bright.

Make a game out of it, for the sake of your morale. Consider the difficulties involved in avoiding the transmission of pink glitter and consider thoughtfully what you would need to do to avoid finding little specks of glitter in your home, your food, and on your person if you were a goth who was passing through space also used by small creative artists of the age and gender that puts pink glitter on everything. It's a variation on the game "the floor is lava."

Wear slip on shoes when you go outside so you don't have to touch them to put them on or take them off.

Take your temperature several times over a couple of days so you get a baseline reading before you get sick. If you don't know what a fever is you don't want to be looking up the implications of 36* on line when you are suddenly feeling yucky or getting scared because it registered 100* and you know that a normal temp is only supposed to be ninety-something.

When holding doors for people make sure that you can turn away so that you aren't breathing on them and if they breath on you they don't breath on your face or on your arm. Hold doors open behind yourself with your foot and allow them to drop with enough time for the person following you to catch it with their foot as you walk away. This works better for going into the building as doors to the outside normally open outward due to fire regulations, so people going in have to pull them open and can't simply push them open with their foot or their butt the way they can on the way out.

Be extra careful and don't take any kind of risk that could lead to a minor accident that might make you want first aid or leave you need to replace or to mend things when it is suddenly much more complex than usual to deal with little challenges. Remember we are all a little dumber and clumsier than we were before we got stressed, so double check you set the microwave for two minutes not twenty minutes before you leave the room, and don't assume you can hop on and off that rock without slipping and twisting an ankle, even if you usually can.

One of the easiest ways to clean things coming into your house like boxes of crackers is to simply throw out the outer packaging.

If you are Canadian you can toss any money into a sink and clean it with hot soapy water. It can survive boiling water, but may end up looking a bit damaged, so just go with the same water temperature you that you use on your dishes or when taking a hot shower.

Look for services that you used to use and think about ways that you can still use them, only not in person. For example if you usually use taxis and want to support them even while definitely not using any form of public transportation, order something with curbside pick up, pay for it with your credit card on line or over the phone and then get a cabbie to pick it up for you, also paying over the phone with your credit card. Get something you can store in your garage for a week instead of take out to reduce the possibility of bringing the virus into the house that way. If you are not broke and hurting for money because of the situation, try to keep spending the usual amount at your local businesses. That weekly date night restaurant meal can become a gift certificate bought now on line but saved for later. Ask your local small businesses and entrepreneurs if they do gift certificates and keep spending your money on them that way. Ask them if they are still working and what they are doing. You may assume that the local board game cafe is closed when they are doing jigsaw puzzle deliveries. Your local boutique might be happy to sell you an oversized sweater that they deliver to your door or might be able to suggest something else that you don't have to try on before buying, like socks. Contact them and ask. Your local hair dresser might be able to recommend a video on styling your hair in a way to keep it from driving you lunatic until you can get it cut, and deliver some hair products and the right kind of comb to your doorstep. Your local yoga studio be holding sessions on line with the invitations to the live stream available for a small fee.
posted by Jane the Brown at 12:34 PM on April 18 [4 favorites]

I've taken to wearing an apron with a tripart front pocket every week when I go shopping. It may look insane, but it makes everything much easier. It's crammed full of my wallet and keys and my list (forget remembering anything with my brain these days: I definitely need a list, plus I'm shopping for multiple people with weird desires) plus a million plastic handle bags of the type that everybody's city was recently trying to ban. This is so that at the farmers' market I don't have to ask the farmer to put stuff in a bag for me, I can just grab and stuff my items in my own bags and save them a lot of facetime plus get out of other people's way faster. Also, I know those bags aren't transmitting anything because I have a 14-day system. They go in cold storage for two weeks before I put them back into service.

Cash machine BMPs:
I put my hand into a newspaper bag (my paper uses clear plastic bags) and use it to fondle the machine buttons, both virtual and actual. The ATM can read my finger through the plastic, and I don't have to touch all its high-touch surfaces. I get out twice as much money as I did in pre-COVID times so that I don't have to visit the ATM every week. I drop the money into my apron pocket and push open the trashcan flappity door thing with my bagged hand and let it grab onto and remove the bag for me. Then when I get back to the car I wash my hands with my soapy rag and put the money in my wallet. (I don't want to leave it loose in my apron pocket because my organizational skills are nil at the market and I'd be randomly casting $20s to the breeze the whole time every time I went in there for a bag or my shopping list.)
posted by Don Pepino at 12:56 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]

. Trim your fingernails; fingernails are a great repository of germs. Get a nail brush and use it.
. Are you tired of washing your hands? Wash them anyway. Hand-washing is cited as the best way to stop germ transmission. Use plenty of soap, watch the video, take your time, rinse well.
. The less people fuss about TP shortages, the sooner people will stop panic-hoarding, which I hope is before my remaining 4 rolls run out.
. Family cloth is a thing, esp. for pee.
. Flush waste and tp only, no wipes or newspaper. If somebody has to come clean a stoppage, it's unsafe. in so many ways.
. Local buy-nothing and Next Door groups might be sources for sourdough starter.
. I would not use Benadryl because dry mucous membranes may be more susceptible to germs. Humid environments seem to be healthier; run a humidifier if you have one.
. I have yet to find hand sanitizer, and I just don't Go Out, but when I go to get grocery pickup or take mail to the PO, I carry a squirt bottle of water and liquid soap and a bottle of water and a dish towel.
. I pin a folded coffee filter into my bandana mask for extra filtration. I use the bandana mask for walks outdoors, a med/surg. mask for going to pick up groceries. Once it's dry, it's safe in a day.
. Try to avoid buying stuff. The part where someone has to work in a warehouse with other people and locate, pack and ship stuff may be invisible, but shopping creates risk. It gets trucked, handled, delivered, by people. Reduce grocery trips for the same reason.
. Increase kindness and generosity. This is a very dangerous, stressful time. People who have retirement accounts see them tanking, people are losing jobs, people are losing loved ones, etc. I see a fair few people losing it in ways I wouldn't have expected. try to cut everybody some slack. If you can give, there is need *everywhere* and it's likely to continue. Thank and recognize people who promote safety; what gets rewarded, gets repeated.
. Make masks if you can. Wear a mask. Many people are not wearing masks because it makes them feel self-conscious, and the more mask-wearing is normalized, the greater the social acceptance.
. My Governor, Janet Mills, Maine, is doing great, so I use the email contact form to encourage her to stay the course and keep us safe. Politically, I am calling my Gov., Senators and Rep. to push for testing, because test & trace seems the only safe way forward.
. It's a numbers game. Every single personal contact creates risk, and you can't tell if your friend, mail carrier, cashier, fellow dog walker, runner, etc. may be infectious. I assume my life will be curtailed until there's a vaccine, no more cases in my state, or a miracle. Thank goodness for books, Internet, MeFi, etc.
posted by theora55 at 1:30 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]

My favorite pandemic lifehack so far: Use the business end of a lighter for things like pressing elevator buttons and light switches. Then light the flame for a bit. Voila: self-sanitizing poke stick.
posted by babelfish at 4:00 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]

If you want bulk food like soda, pasta, garlic and are happy to buy a minimum of a pound of two of whatever produce you eat, you could look into ordering your groceries from a restaurant supplier/distributor. We did this and got loads of excellent produce and other food items delivered for free, since we hit the $85 minimum for delivery. Lots of restaurant distributors do stuff like this, and even have higher quality milk than we can buy in the grocery store, as it is from local farms. Plus, you keep the money in your local economy, as opposed to shopping at a behemoth corporate chain (which is also fine if that's all that is available!). Plus it takes strain off of suppliers like Amazon. We placed our order easily one morning, and they delivered it the next afternoon- very easy. And since they use small refrigerated trucks, the cold items stay cold during the delivery (unlike Amazon fresh, which is just some dude is their car).
posted by erattacorrige at 4:38 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]

Kolonya as an alternative to hand sanitiser is one I just heard of today, a Turkish high-alcohol cologne offered to incoming guests to clean their hands after their travel.

Taking your shoes off inside the house - a small thing, since germs on the ground are less likely to make it to your face. But if you know your home is safe, why bring in problems from outside? If you have the space, you can decide on a "warm zone" which is where you decontaminate anything (including your hands, phone, wallet, keys) that comes in from the "hot zone" outside. Your outdoor shoes can live there instead of their usual spot.
posted by harriet vane at 7:44 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]

I feel like you all, my fellow makers-do, will appreciate the pandemic-inspired epiphany I've just had: large-ish underwear can be twisted into an entirely plausible face mask, no cutting or sewing or gluing or stapling or sourcing of elastic straps required.

Procedure: insert your head through one leg hole and the waist hole. Center the larger piece of fabric (i.e. the butt-side) flat over face, with waistband elastic over bridge of nose running to below ears (have the pattern facing outward if you care about that). Reach behind your head and hold the other leg hole and the remainder of the waistband together, then twist (twisted fabric should be against spine) and insert head (through that second leg hole and the other half of the figure-8 that the waistband now forms). It'll be tight, but it gets better as soon as it's past the jaw. Pull it down to mid-neck to form a seal along the bottom edge of the mask and rearrange any extra fabric so there aren't gaps at the neck. For better filtration, since this is just a single layer of soft fabric at this point, insert extra layers of fleece or whatever into the pouch that's now over your face. Works comfortably for me with size L+ or 7+ brief-cuts, doesn't fog my glasses any more than any other mask, and the ears aren't involved. If you have underwear without branding on the waistband, it looks basically normal, and in any case it's fine for being out walking or biking even if you wouldn't want to wear it at the store.
posted by teremala at 9:42 AM on May 4

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