I have a confession to make.
I’m a hypocrite of sorts. Despite the constant declaration of the fact that “I’m cheap” and that I’m an eco-aware consumer, there’s one area where I’m absolutely and knowingly doing the wrong thing. I’ve become a person who is wasteful in areas where I never would have been before. It’s not a function of the fact that I’m OK with eco-littering or wasting money; it is a function of the fact that I’ve decided that this is how I am able to survive as a working mom. This “new me” is someone whom environmentalists and/or the pre-baby me would have snubbed my nose at.
What am I talking about? I’m talking about the fact that I use convenience products and have adopted habits that are not only expensive but create a fair amount of waste. I do this not because I don’t care, but because it’s the only way that I’m able to get some things done without losing my mind or spending an inordinate amount of extra time (which I don’t have) pre-planning.
- Diapers – we’re now potty trained, so this is no longer really an issue. However, pre-baby, I was POSITIVE that I wanted to use cloth diapers at home (I had planned to send my twins to daycare and I knew that cloth was probably not feasible during the day). It wasn’t really so much for the “organic” aspect of it as much as it was for the fact that I hated the idea of creating that much waste (x 2). I did my research but by the time my preemie-twins were large enough to be in cloth diapers, I was back at work, the habits were formed and the time was nonexistent. Cloth just…never happened.
- Disposable (House) Cleaning Wipes – if it were not for these wipes, my house would be disgusting. I use these for everything from washing my bathroom floors, wiping the sinks, cleaning the kids’ room. These are my go-to cleaning item. Unlike before kids (when I had the time to fill a bucket with hot water, vinegar and a clean rag), I now clean while multitasking and the idea of sticking my hand into an already filled, slightly dirty, cold bucket of vinegar solution kinda grosses me out; not to mention the fact that my dog would probably drink it. Cleaning happens as life happens and wipes just make it…possible.
- Paper towels and tissues – I’m not really sure why or how we go through SO MANY FREAKING PAPER TOWELS in a day. I think part of it is that I no longer really use cloth rags because I became a germ freak when the kids were born. But, yeah…just like cleaning wipes, I’m not sure I could survive without these. Sometimes, if they’re clean-ish (just water or food waste), I will throw them into our fireplace as a fire starter. Otherwise, they go into the trash, but my sister in law informed me that paper towels can be composted, so I wonder if they can actually be thrown into our recycling bin?
- Single Serve Snack Packs – you would NEVER have caught me buying single serve snack packs of ANYTHING before kids. Up until about two years ago, I was still buying large containers of whatever it was I was packing (crackers, raisins, etc) and packing them into reusable containers. However, between the dirty containers that needed to be washed, the clutter caused by a bazillion open boxes, and the TIME to measure out the snacks, I finally gave in to the convenience of a single serve pack. Throwing a bag of crackers or a box of raisins into my kids’ lunchboxes was just easier and saved a little bit of time.
- Running the laundry or dishwasher when it’s not totally full – my husband and I still fight over this. For him, it’s absolutely a money saving thing – he does not like me to run the laundry or dishwasher until it is PACKED full. He also doesn’t like it when I load the dishwasher with BIG items that take up a lot of space (pots and pans). However, since I’m the one who folds the laundry and puts away the clean dishes, I don’t really have the extra time to unload a full dishwasher or fold a full load of laundry. It’s much easier for me to run each daily when it’s slightly less than full and take a little time each morning to put away dishes and clean clothes.
- Heat – the heat in our house is set to a comfortable temperature. Pre-baby, I was ALWAYS uncomfortable – FREEZING in the winter; STEAMING in the summer. Now, I’m not the one complaining; it’s the kids and their blue lips that justify bumping the thermostat up a little more in the wintertime.
I’d like to say that we’ve compensated for our wastefulness in other ways and maybe relative to others, we are less wasteful. But all of the actions above are things that I never would’ve done pre-babies. The fact is that having kids changes our priorities and justification for doing things – I’m sure I’m setting myself up for some comments from the environmentalists of how self-centered this perspective is. I’m doing what I can to survive and still maintain some amount of sanity for the time being; knowing that I will need to face the future eventually and break these habits. For now, we just do what we can to get by.