Our pets protect us from identity theft!

Here’s an idea that works for me this Earth Day:

We have two pet gerbils.  The conventional wisdom is that you’re supposed to give your gerbils lots of wood-chips to nest in (I always want to say, “to munk in,” but that’s chipmunks, isn’t it?) and you have to buy these wood-chips at the pet store.  But gerbils also need things to chew, to keep their teeth healthy and also apparently for entertainment, and you can give them paper and cardboard.

Simultaneously, we have documents we want to discard that include confidential information like bank account numbers.  The conventional wisdom is that you’re supposed to shred these with a noisy machine that could do serious damage to your hand, hair, or clothing if you get too close.  We bought a shredder several years ago (one that was very trendy-looking at the time, with its white base and translucent purple top, but was not called an iShredder) but found that it couldn’t handle as many sheets at a time as it said, it overheated very easily, it smelled horrible, and after a relatively short time it just quit working.

So…we give our confidential documents to the gerbils!!  They are happy to shred them into much tinier pieces than the shredder made.  They are very prompt, even waking from a sound sleep to take up a new job when we bring them one.  Then they frolic in the shreds, having what is obviously a very good time, and they make a nest in which they can snuggle completely covered by shreds.  We give them lots of non-confidential papers, too, and don’t bother with the wood-chips anymore.

Then when we clean out the terrarium, all that shredded paper can go in the compost bin.  In about six months, it turns into a nice mulch for our flower beds!

Bonus Tip: Our garbage scrubs our skillets!
I read some nifty uses for coffee grounds in someone else’s Works-for-Me Wednesday a few weeks back, and I told Daniel (who is in charge of cleaning our two cast-iron skillets) that coffee grounds can be used to scrub pots.  He gave it a try and soon made a valuable discovery:

You need something between your hand and the coffee grounds, to distribute the pressure and to protect your skin from the sharp granules, but if you use the dishcloth the coffee particles get jammed in between the fibers and are very hard to wash out, and anyway a cloth is not really firm enough.  What you want is a large piece of orange peel.  Put the coffee grounds against the white side and your knuckles against the orange side.  Great scrubbing action and citrus cleaning power, too!

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About 'Becca
author of The Earthling's Handbook, about the environment, parenting, cooking, and more!

5 Responses to Our pets protect us from identity theft!

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