DIY Recycled Paper

Look what I bought.

I literally paid money for my own garbage. I bought this! With money! Money is for bills!

I literally paid money for my own garbage. I bought this! With money! Money is for bills!

Granted, Mesa's Blue Barrel Program is actually very excellent as they accept most things that can be recycled. I'm just upset that I pay SO MUCH MONEY for things that are discarded. 

Some wrappings are necessary for sanitation, but have you ever opened something like a smartphone box? It's literally boxes within boxes just to look cool. I wonder how much boxes within boxes costs.

Some wrappings are necessary for sanitation, but have you ever opened something like a smartphone box? It's literally boxes within boxes just to look cool. I wonder how much boxes within boxes costs.

So I've decided to start living towards a more waste-free life. I know that it IS possible (remember that famous zero-waste person in NYC?) and is a new kind of lifestyle that can be grown into. It's not something I'm going to do tomorrow, but I am innovative and decided to make this change into an adventure!

Quest 1: Recycling Paper

Ads! How can I stop getting these? In the meantime, I can recycle them!

Ads! How can I stop getting these? In the meantime, I can recycle them!

Take any old paper and toss it in some water. Soak it until it's really mushy.

Alternatively, you can use dryer lint! That actually makes a really great paper too! You can even mix lint and unwanted paper in any ratio; it doesn't matter, just soak it all.

Tasty tasty trash stew. The dryer sheets in this picture did not work out, so I set them aside for another use.

Tasty tasty trash stew. The dryer sheets in this picture did not work out, so I set them aside for another use.

The idea is to make a pulp. A blender is a handy way to achieve this, so blend it up!

Eh... Also, this is a good step to add bleach, if you'd like!

Eh... Also, this is a good step to add bleach, if you'd like!

If it isn't grossing you out by now, then you aren't doing it right. Next, combine it with water in a large vat.

Don't tell my landlord.

Don't tell my landlord.

Turns out that making paper is actually an art in straining. The pulp is pretty consistent in thickness throughout this liquid so you have to be careful in how you strain it. The original article I read on this technique suggests you use window screening to strain the pulp with. However, I didn't have any screen laying around. What to use, what to use.....

Oh! My handy-dandy used dryer sheets!

Oh! My handy-dandy used dryer sheets!

Chopsticks makin' it easier to strain the pulp soup.

Chopsticks makin' it easier to strain the pulp soup.

Whatever you use (screening, dryer sheets, cheese cloth), dip it in your pulpy soup and collect a nice layer of pulp. You want it to be as even as possible. It's going to be really wet still, so with the pulp on the screen (or dryer sheet), lay it pulp-side down on a towel or cloth. Then, press the water out.

The pulp will be pretty dedicated to sticking to your screen, so don't worry about it sticking to the cloth when you press the water out. But once it sticks to your screen, you can't take it off. So it needs to stay there until it dies completely.

The pulp will be pretty dedicated to sticking to your screen, so don't worry about it sticking to the cloth when you press the water out. But once it sticks to your screen, you can't take it off. So it needs to stay there until it dies completely.

You DON'T want this.

You DON'T want this.

Set to dry. That's literally it. That's paper! The bigger your screen, the bigger your sheet of paper! Unfortunately, I didn't have any large screen to use, so I only made the one sheet. But I did try making a paper bowl and a paper cup!

After this all dried, the paper sheet came out really well! But I couldn't get the paper off the ceramic bowls and plastic cup.... My idea sounded better ON PAPER XD Ah-ha ha.

After this all dried, the paper sheet came out really well! But I couldn't get the paper off the ceramic bowls and plastic cup.... My idea sounded better ON PAPER XD Ah-ha ha.

A really fun and REALLY MESSY activity! 10/10 would do again! But next time, I need much bigger screens, and many of them!

Good, so now I know what to do with all this extra paper and dryer lint. One step closer to a zero-waste (or at least less wasteful!) life.

Turned out pretty great!

Turned out pretty great!

 

Quest 2: soon...

The Secret Method of Polishing Silver

A long time ago, my mom taught me two inexpensive ways to polish silver.

The first involves rubbing an ash and water paste on the silver until it becomes clean. It's definitely cheaper than buying cleaner from the store, but it takes a lot of effort... as well as a handy stockpile of ashes, which I don't have.

The second method is much more entertaining. Simply add baking soda, a dash of salt, and a folded sheet of tin foil to some boiling water.

Any pot will do... Even a pan! Just keep the water boiling.

Any pot will do... Even a pan! Just keep the water boiling.

Then place your jewelry in the water and stir it up.

Also this smells terrible, so ye be warned.

Also this smells terrible, so ye be warned.

All done! Here's a video showing what this method does to a tarnished silver spoon:

So what's the chemistry behind it all? Basically, the baking soda and salt provide ways for the tarnish to move off of the silver and onto the aluminum. The baking soda and salt are just the vehicles that allow that process to happen. The silver tarnish (silver sulfide, or Ag(2)S) gets stripped by the hot baking soda solution, then it gets placed onto the aluminum. Here's the chemical reaction:

3 Ag(2)S + 2 Al --> 6 Ag + Al(2)S(3)

It's interesting that this does not occur without the aluminum. One might think the silver sulfide could just dissolve in the water and that would be that. But the only reason it leaves the silver metal is because the electron affinity of the aluminum is stronger than that of the silver. In other words, aluminum is a sexier place to be for sulfur elections. Sorry silver, aluminum just has a better affinity for electrons.

Wait, what about the salt (NaCl)? The salt makes the process happen faster... a LOT faster (think 15 seconds instead of 6 minutes). A quick Google search on polishing silver will mention the aluminum foil/baking soda method, but none of them mention the salt. That's the part that makes it entertaining ;) 

Before....

Before....

... and after! It works really well and takes almost no time at all.

... and after! It works really well and takes almost no time at all.

r u a grl?

r u a grl?

It used to be the most frequently asked question I've received while playing online games, followed closely by:

why can't i see ur boobs

Being an avid League of Legends player, I've always wanted my own Twitch channel. It would be a lot of fun to show off my Teemo support style, discuss strategy, and have fun conversations about the game. Unfortunately, on the internet, you're a person until they find out you're a girl. On Twitch, they can hear my voice and I can't hide who I am.

I've put that dream on the shelf for now until I feel like I can come up with a better way of dealing with harassment. Unlike the subtlety of person-to-person interactions (which can be irksome, but very manageable for the most part), harassment in your own stream is as raw as it gets. Imagine seeing the comment "let me see ur boobs" hundreds of times. Nobody really cares about your strategy or skills as a girl streamer because you're not really a person to them. 

Motherboard had a great article review on this issue recently, which shows how much of a widespread issue this is for female streamers on Twitch. Granted, the data is from 2014, but I (personally) don't feel like anything has changed since then. Basically, the paper reveals that there is indeed a huge gender disparity between the comments on male and female streams. A quote from Nakandala et al:

Here we analyze more than one billion chat messages from Twitch, a social game-streaming platform, to study how the gender of streamers is associated with the nature of conversation. Using a combination of computational text analysis methods, we show that gendered conversation and objectification is prevalent in chats. Female streamers receive significantly more objectifying comments while male streamers receive more game-related comments. This difference is more pronounced for popular streamers.

At least I feed validated and am happy that Twitch has a neat anti-harassment toolkit, but it still doesn't mean female gamers get the same respect as their male counterparts. And although this is a wide-spread issue, I'm more concerned about what it means for me and how I can adapt. 

My favorite way to deal with things I dislike (AHEMMM POLITICS) is humor! Make it funny, make it laughable. Troll the ever-loving shit out of them. As a start, I've made myself a nice bingo sheet for the comments I receive! I thought other female gamers could appreciate using it too.