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Should You Use a Paper Towel Or Cloth Towel For That Mess?

In the quest to live a more environmentally-friendly life, there are a few questions that consistentlycome up for eco-minded folks.

One of these conundrums is the question of whether you should reach for a paper towel or a dish towel when presented with a spill or other small mess. Like so many of these arguments, the answer is, “it depends.”

On the surface, the answer to this question might seem simple.After all, paper towel waste is a big problem for Americans. “Here inthe U.S. we currently use more than 13 billion pounds ofpaper towelseach year and that number is growing steadily,” according to The Paperless Project. “This equals more than 3,000 tons ofpaper towel wastein the U.S. alone.”

Holy paper waste, Batman! Since cloth towels can be reused for years, it may seem like they’re the obvious green choice, but wait just one second…

Related Reading: 7 Best Eco-Alternatives to Throw-Away Paper Towels

Reusing textiles requires washing, and washing requires water (and in most cases electricity). Water is increasingly becoming a precious resource in post climate-change world(just ask California), and not everyone gets their electricity from clean sources like solar, wind or geothermal power. Depending on the age/efficiency of your washing machine, each load could sendaround 20 gallons of water down the drain, not to mentionthe energy used to dry it (unless you’re using a clothesline). There’s also the chance that cloth towels can harbor or even spread bacteria if not properly maintained. Yuck!

So what’s an earth-loving humanto do?

The answer is to employ a hybrid approach that reduces your paper towel consumption as much as possible (if every household in the U.S. used just one fewer70-sheet roll of paper towels,it would save 544,000 trees each year), and to use recycled paper towels when the situation calls for a disposable cleaning solution (every ton of recycled paper saves an estimated 7,000 gallons of water).

When To UseCloth Towels

1. Drying hands after washing
2. Drying clean dishes
3. Wiping crumbs/dust off surfaces
4. Soaking up water-only spills
5. Polishing furniture
6. Cleaning up after a meal/using as a napkin

When To Use Recycled Paper Towels

1. Spills that could spread germs/disease (think: raw egg, or liquid from raw meat)
2. Soaking upgrease from bacon/fried foods
3. Cleaning germy surfaces (think: toilet, diaper changing table, or litter box)
4. Cleaning toxic items (think: paintbrushes, glue spills, etc)

What do you think?Do you hate paper towels or do you think they have their place? Tell us in the comments!

Related Reading: 9 Paper Products You Should Give Up For Good

Images via Thinkstock

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Should You Use a Paper Towel Or Cloth Towel For That Mess?

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Review: "X-Men: Apocalypse" Is the Best Superhero Film of 2016

Mother Jones

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Depending on your definition, there have been somewhere between 50 and 70 superhero films made in the United States since the first X-Men came out in 2000.

When X-Men: Apocalypse, the ninth entry in the franchise and the fourth helmed by Bryan Singer, is released on May 27, it will be the fourth major superhero film to debut just this year. It will also be the best. Better than Captain America: Civil War, which was itself better than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. (Deadpool was sort of a different bird, and if you really were taken by its shtick then you might prefer it.)

That’s not to say Apocalypse is perfect. Like all these films, the plot doesn’t make a lot of sense. It is also a profoundly long 144 minutes. And like the bloated Batman v Superman and Captain America: Civil War, it is overstuffed with superheroes who less serve the story so much as are contractually obligated to appear within it. X-Men: First Class became a hit in 2011 just as Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence were becoming A-listers, and though their talent, along with that of James McAvoy, shines in the new film, the plot struggles with the obligation to share screen time between so many stars.

Do you want to know about the plot?

In Ancient Egypt, Oscar Isaac is a powerful mutant who is betrayed by some followers and ends up buried inside the ruins of a pyramid. Cut to 1983 and, following the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past, the younger versions of the X-Men are scattered across the globe doing things that are not really worth getting into. Oscar Isaac is woken up by some cult that knows about him based on hieroglyphics or something. (Don’t worry about them. They are never mentioned ever again. I’m pretty sure they die? It really doesn’t matter.) Isaac quickly begins assembling a small band of mutants to help him destroy the world. You see, Oscar Isaac was the very first mutant, and his power is basically that he can take over the body of another mutant and, voila, he’s got that mutant’s power. So for millions of years he has been jumping from mutant to mutant collecting powers (except for the last 6,000 years when he was asleep under that pyramid). He has many powers, but his favorite seems to be turning people into sand.

Oscar Isaac finds Storm (Alexandra Shipp), a mutant with a lightsaber whip (Olivia Munn), and some alcoholic with angel wings (Ben Hardy) and convinces them to help him kill everyone in the world so that he can…mutters incoherently.

Meanwhile, Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is the most-wanted fugitive in the world and is hiding in Poland with his wife and daughter, like you do. But then some bad shit happens to this tranquil trio involving…wood, and one thing leads to another.

You see where this is going? Oscar Isaac and his “four horsemen of the Apocalypse” are going to fight Jennifer Lawrence and James McAvoy and the X-Men. However, it takes a very long time for this fight to actually happen. For a superhero movie, this is not the most action-packed film! If you want straight wall-to-wall, mutant-on-mutant action, then it will disappoint. It’s not A Room With a View With a Staircase and a Pond but it’s not A Room With a View of Hell: Staircase of Satan: Pond of Death.

Watching it, however, does not disappoint. The people who made this movie seem to genuinely care about entertaining the audience in every scene. You may rightfully wonder why the scenes happen in the order that they do or why they focus on what they focus on, but they are enjoyable. The cast deserves credit for this. The screenwriters deserve credit, too. The producers deserve credit. Most of all, though, director Bryan Singer deserves credit.

My overriding thought walking out of the screening was: Bryan Singer is just a better director than the other people directing the current crop of superhero films. The Russo brothers of Captain America: Civil War and other various Marvel installments are great! Even Zack Snyder is a talented director whose main flaws come out mostly when he is allowed to have control over other aspects of a project. But Singer’s direction is more confident, more inventive, and more fun.

The X-Men movies don’t get the ink of other superhero movies, but they are the most valuable players of the genre. Aside from X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine—the former now the butt of a joke in Apocalypse; the latter the world has agreed to pretend never happened—the franchise has been remarkably consistent.

And while it isn’t entirely clear what’s next for the flagship series in the franchise, there are roughly 1,000 other films in the X-Men universe being developed, from standalone Wolverine, Deadpool, and Gambit films to Josh Boone’s New Mutants spin-off and a rumored Deadpool-esque R-rated X-Force.

Go see X-Men: Apocalypse because it is good and fun and, in a world with an unavoidable number of superhero films that are a total slog, that is fun and good.


Review: "X-Men: Apocalypse" Is the Best Superhero Film of 2016

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5 Chilling Pages From the Aurora Mass Shooter’s Diary Debunk a Favorite NRA Talking Point

Mother Jones

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It’s an argument we hear frequently from gun rights activists and conservative lawmakers: Mass shooters select places to attack where citizens are banned from carrying firearms—so-called “gun-free zones.” All the available data shows that this claim is just plain wrong. As I reported in an investigation into nearly 70 mass shootings in the United States over three decades, there has never been any known evidence of gun laws influencing a mass shooter’s strategic thinking. In fact, the vast majority of the perpetrators have indicated other specific motivations for striking their targets, such as employment grievances or their connection to a school.

Most recently, the marquee villain used to decry gun-free zones is James Holmes, who is currently on trial for the July 2012 massacre in Aurora, Colorado. “Out of all the movie theaters within 20 minutes of his apartment showing the new Batman movie that night, it was the only one where guns were banned,” Fox News pundit John Lott wrote not long after the attack. “So why would a mass shooter pick a place that bans guns? The answer should be obvious, though it apparently is not clear to the media—disarming law-abiding citizens leaves them as sitting ducks.”

Now, with the release this week of a detailed handwritten diary that Holmes kept before the attack, we know that there is no evidence to support Lott’s widely parroted claim.

The diary includes five pages in which Holmes laid out his strategy for attacking the Cinemark theater complex. Under the header “Case the Place,” he drew maps and diagrams accompanied by many tactical notes regarding where victims would be located and how they would potentially react. “South side of theater optimal,” he wrote, noting its “15 screens.” He zeroed in on theaters 10 and 12 as the “best targets in complex” and marked the “best parking spot” for his car. Among his lists of “pros” and “cons,” he observed that theater 10 would have “many initial persons packed in single area.” He assessed the many doors and hallways through which people would try to escape.

Nowhere in any of this extensive planning did Holmes make reference to gun regulations at the theater or the potential for moviegoers to be armed. Moreover, he had every expectation that he would not get away with his crime. In one sketch, he drew two other locations not far from the theater: the Aurora Police Department and a Colorado National Guard facility. “ETA response approximately 3 mins,” he noted. In his list of possible methods of attack, where he checked off mass murder using firearms as his choice, he also wrote “being caught 99% certain.”

Additional evidence from the trial underscores that Holmes clearly was not planning to avoid getting shot, killed, or apprehended. On an AdultFriendFinder.com profile he filled out shortly before the shooting, he wrote: “Will you visit me in prison?”

Here are the five diary pages filled with Holmes’ plans, followed by the full document:


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Full diary:

width: 630,
height: 500,
sidebar: false,
text: false,
container: “#DV-viewer-2089833-james-holmes-notebook”

James Holmes Notebook (PDF)

James Holmes Notebook (Text)


5 Chilling Pages From the Aurora Mass Shooter’s Diary Debunk a Favorite NRA Talking Point

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Why Ben Affleck Is Qualified to Testify Before the Senate on Atrocities in Congo

Mother Jones

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On Thursday, John Hudson at Foreign Policy reported that actor Ben Affleck is set to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next Wednesday to testify on the mass killings in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Affleck’s inclusion among the experts scheduled to testify invited some predictable skepticism and ridicule. In response to the news, Washington Post digital foreign editor Anup Kaphle tweeted, “zzzzzz…” National Review correspondent Jim Geraghty joked, “If a Congressman asks about his qualifications as a Congo expert, Ben Affleck should simply answer, ‘I’m Batman.'”

“People serious about resolving problems—especially problems related to life and death—want to have serious conversations with experts and leaders in the field; not celebrities,” a Republican aide at the House Foreign Affairs Committee told Foreign Policy‘s “The Cable.” (House Republicans reportedly declined to hold a similar, Affleck-inclusive event.)

It’s pretty easy to laugh at the idea of the one-time Gigli and Pearl Harbor star now lecturing senators on atrocities in Central Africa. But the Oscar-winning future Batman knows his stuff. He isn’t some celebrity who just happened to open his mouth about a humanitarian cause (think: Paris Hilton and Rwanda). The acclaimed Argo director has repeatedly traveled to Congo and has even met with warlords accused of atrocities. Here’s his 2008 report from the country for ABC’s Nightline, in which he discusses mass rape, war, and survival:

ABC Entertainment News|ABC Business News

Affleck previously testified before the House Armed Services Committee on the humanitarian crisis in the African nation. That same year, he made the media rounds with Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) to discuss renewed violence in Congo. In 2011, he testified before the House Foreign Affairs Africa Subcommittee. In 2010, Affleck founded the Eastern Congo Initiative, an advocacy and grant-making 501(c)(3) organization. On top of all that, he made this video this month (in which he and Matt Damon humorously trade insults) to help raise money for the Initiative.

So, are there experts who know more about the Democratic Republic of the Congo than Ben Affleck? Of course—and some of them will also testify before the Senate committee next week. But celebrities testifying before Congress, or heading to the Hill to make their case, isn’t exactly new. Harrison Ford has swung by the House and Senate to talk about planes, and Val Kilmer visited Capitol Hill last year to push for the expansion of Americans’ ability to claim religious exemptions to Obamacare’s health insurance mandate.

With Affleck, you get testimony from a famous person who has really done his homework.

Click here to check out our interactive map of celebrity humanitarian efforts in (and the “celebrity recolonization” of) Africa.

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Why Ben Affleck Is Qualified to Testify Before the Senate on Atrocities in Congo

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Dream Project: Toppling the "Fascist Cult of Celebrity"

Mother Jones

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For a 32-year-old, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has quite the diverse filmography. He’s played a teen psych ward patient. He’s played a womanizing porn addict. He’s been Robin to Christian Bale’s Batman, and Abe Lincoln’s son. He’s even played a black man.

Well, kind of.

READ THE INTERVIEW: “Yes, Joseph Gordon-Levitt Will Marry You.”

Near the end of the first season of NBC’s 3rd Rock from the Sun (his breakout role as a child star), a young Gordon-Levitt donned Blues Brothers attire and strummed a Fender Stratocaster while belting out 12-bar blues about how much Planet Earth “sucks.” His character Tommy—a crotchety old alien trapped in a schoolboy’s body—was having an identity crisis. “Well, I’m black now,” Tommy explains. “I’m black, and I got the blues!”

It was a silly sitcom moment—but it offered a hint of the versatile, musically talented performer who would fully emerge in the years to come.

“I’ve played music really my whole life,” Gordon-Levitt told me. “I wouldn’t consider myself an aficionado on the blues. I know the normal names—Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson—but most of what I know about the blues came from Jimi Hendrix…Whether it’s a rock ‘n’ roll song or a pop song or an R&B song, generally those three chords are at the core.”

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Dream Project: Toppling the "Fascist Cult of Celebrity"

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Yes, Joseph Gordon-Levitt Will Marry You

Mother Jones

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt is only 32, but it seems like that kid from 3rd Rock From the Sun has been in everything since.

Among other roles, he played a DIY detective in Brick, Robin to Christian Bale’s Batman in The Dark Knight Rises, Leonardo DiCaprio’s business partner in Inception, Abe’s son in Lincoln, and a womanizing porn addict opposite Scarlett Johansson in last year’s Don Jon—which he wrote and directed. He also plays piano and guitar—and sometimes even belts out some blues. But his true passion is hitRECord, initially a side project he co-founded in 2005 with his older brother Daniel, who died in 2010. Their quirky production company takes art (short films, drawings, writings, original music) pitched by amateurs from around the globe, and packages it as YouTube clips, online galleries, a mini-book series, and live variety shows. Now you can catch Gordon-Levitt hosting HitRECord on TV, a program on Participant Media’s Pivot channel that showcases these far-flung talents via vignettes, visual artistry, and live performance.

Mother Jones: How long have you been a bluesman?

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Yes, Joseph Gordon-Levitt Will Marry You

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