Just yesterday, my son came home and announced that for Field Day at school, each child (grr) needed to bring a sack lunch, no lunchboxes or reusables desired. Which annoyed me, and placed me in a quandary--I don't have paper or plastic lunch bags around. What kind of "sack" am I supposed to use? Then I remembered that time a month or so ago when I caved and bought that ammoniaburger, when they gave me the stupid wrapped burger in a much bigger stupid paper bag, which I remember thinking was just plain stupid. I folded up the bag Just In Case I ever needed it for something…so this morning, my kid went to school with a re-used fast food bag for a lunch sack. And a sandwich, instead of in a Wrap-N-Mat, in a plain old foldover sandwich bag of the same kind we use to pick up dog poo. (I didn’t frame it that way for my son.)
That’s when it sort of hit me—as partially-green as my life is becoming, I depend really heavily on a combination of a) the stuff leftover from before I started greening our lives (like that big plastic bin downstairs that’s full of disposable plates, cups, and flatware) and b) the fruits of my wagon-fall-offs (the lunch bag). If I didn’t break down at least every so often and buy the ridiculous glass jars of applesauce, I wouldn’t have anything to put the homemade stuff in. (I mean, is it really better in these cases to go out and buy new jars to put the applesauce in? The jars might be better and nicer, and maybe last longer, but I get a lot of mileage out of those re-used jars.) (Okay, the good Ball canning jars are what you need for canning…but when I’m making a quart of the stuff that will be eaten in a week, who cares, right?) Same deal for my various herbal concoctions—I need jars whose lids don’t smell like pasta sauce, and applesauce jars fit the bill nicely. If we didn’t order Chinese takeout once every couple of months, I wouldn’t have that awesome stack of lidded plastic storage containers to put leftovers in, and in which my husband and I take our lunches to work. Ditto buying pre-made yogurt in those perfectly sized universally fitted quart containers with lids—I store everything in that stuff, including homemade yogurt when I do make it. And while I give my husband a hard time every winter when he buys bottles of “glogg” wine (it’s very yummy, but I can make better), I simultaneously am going, “yay! A couple more bottles for the homemade liqueurs!”
Yeah, I know. I could store in leftovers in glass. (Plastic and BPA and chemical leaching. I know. Baby steps. At least I never heat food in them any more.) I could store the recycling in something reusable. I could flout the regulations and send my kid with a lunchbox anyway. And I did use “real” plates and flatware for my daughter’s birthday party, and washed and saved the plastic “disposable” cups we used for their juice, so that disposable picnicware bin will probably last us until 2048 or so at this rate. And at some point I realized if I brought any more applesauce jars home I’d have to start recycling them anyway, because I don’t have any more room to store the damn things. I have shelves and shelves full of empty jars, which doesn’t seem like a really good use of space, you know? (Come fall, I’ll make more. Then it’ll be shelves and shelves of actual applesauce. And pasta sauce. In new jars I’ll have to buy for canning, I guess…)
Part of me wants to feel guilty about this…but it doesn’t want to badly enough that I actually do feel guilty. (Partially because guilt is a really unproductive emotion, IMO.) It’s one of those areas where I am comfortable cutting myself slack. And I know that I have to be careful about not sliding into a deliberate dependence on that kind of stuff, like buying something I know I don’t need in a form I really don’t need it in, just because I know that some form of it will make another not-really-necessary ease kick in down the line somewhere. But let’s face it—fighting the consumerist-garbage-producing mindset is really really an uphill trek; doesn’t it make sense, whenever possible, to let the bumps in the road and places we trip work for us instead of against?
Or am I just rationalizing here?
Anyone have any thoughts on this?
--Jenn the Greenishmom