May 30, 2008

It's In The Bag

I've heard it said lately that most "Mommy Bloggers" are so obsessed with their own perfect adorable children that they'll even spend a whole post talking about their kid's poop. Well, I personally do not think ANY of my Mom Blogger friends nor I deserve such condescending categorization!

Most of us are talking about really important things like, say, environmental issues. Which is what I'd like to discuss today. More specifically, the craze over eliminating plastic grocery bags.

So this morning Gabe had a REALLY nasty poopy diaper. One of the stinkier ones in his repertoire. After changing him, (it was about a 12-wiper) as usual, I went immediately to my pantry for a plastic grocery sack to wrap the offending poop-catcher, only to find the cupboard was bare. No more grocery sacks. (This usually means we're out of groceries too, so it's time to go shopping.)

Which got me thinking. (read; ranting to myself.) These days, reusable grocery sacks are all the rage. Environmentalists and responsible citizens alike are telling us that millions of plastic grocery sacks are going to landfills and if we had any conscience at all, we'd stop using them.

There are cities banning them (San Francisco, of course!)

Blogs are in on the action, and even Maxwell brought home a Reusable grocery sack from school on Earth Day and treated me to a lecture about why I'm making a "bad choice" and I should run right down to Stop n Shop and buy more ugly green sacks for ONLY $1.50 each.

Am I the only one who is bothered by being this???

As I perused DesignMom the other day, she was mentioning various sellers of reusable grocery bags and extolling their virtues. I had to laugh. This lady has 5 kids. I would bet my first born (sorry Max) that she doesn't use these bags for her grocery shopping. Have you SEEN how many groceries it takes to feed 7 people? We're only feeding 5 at my house, and you KNOW I ain't gonna be totin' 23 reusable bags to Super Wal-mart and demanding the checker stick them on her dumb little carousel to pack my groceries into them. I don't care how "smart" they are or what great colors they come in! (No offense intended to DesignMom who has an excellent site.)

One reason all this fervor bugs me is because it assumes, wrongly, that all of us are bringing these bags home, and then throwing them right into the garbage where they journey straight to the nearest landfill choking song birds and polluting gurgling streams along the way.

First off, I personally do not throw-away my empty plastic bags. And I don't know anyone who does. When I get home from the store, I take my groceries out, tie the bags in knots, (to prevent my children from suffocating) and stick them in my handy Ikea bag holder. (Stinkin' Ikea charges $0.05 per bag now!)

Later, I reuse them.

First and foremost, they wrap up all my poopy diapers. Yes! I'm sending a plastic bag to the landfill. But I'm also sending a poopy diaper to the landfill and TRUST me when I tell you, you want that thing contained!

I use them to line the garbage cans in my bathrooms, bedrooms, and office. (Would it be preferable for me to BUY plastic garbage bags specifically for this purpose? At least a grocery bag is used twice this way.) I also use them in the yard when I'm weeding, as stuffing in boxes when I'm packing, and for a myriad of other things around the house, yard and car.

Doug uses them when he takes lunch to work,
Sam uses them for his wet clothes on swim day every week,
and Max uses them to tote toys around the house.

And we're not the only ones re-using them!

The librarian puts our books in them,
The local produce stand puts our food in them,
The neighborhood dog owners scoop poop in them,
Friends return casserole dishes in them,
and Thrift stores wrap breakables in them.

Sounds like a lot of reducing, reusing and recycling to me!

My point here is, they ALWAYS get reused by the Dub family and I'm sick of being made to feel guilty because I use them for my groceries in the first place! (end rant)

I'm just sayin', there is more than one way to skin a cat. And more than one way to use a plastic bag.

Now where did I leave that poopy diaper?

Post Script: In my days before blogging, to purge my head of these internal rants and one-sided arguments, I would have written this out into a journal or notebook where it would never be seen or read again. Sorry you have to suffer now!


mama bear said...

Amen! We are starting to run low on plastic grocery bags ourselves, and the culprit here is Brett who prefers paper to plastic. Great, the paper bags have handles - but DO THEY CONTAIN THE POOP?!?

Marni said...

Amen! Preach it! :) They are a MUST HAVE for our poopy diapers too!

Unknown said...

Triple Amen (agreement here enough to come out from blog-stalking). Hooray for the Reuse Plastic Grocery Bag Movement!

I always look at my huge load of grocery bags at the end of a shopping trip, and wonder how people can buy only like 5 reusable ones.

Lizzy said...

I do know one person who throws away the plastic bags without re-using them. My mother-in-law (cue law & order music) She's crazy though.

FOX said...

Emily! This is embarrassing to say as a scientist (who is viewed as always being obnoxiously environmental) but I have been known (when I am low on plastic bags) to go buy a soda and say---

hey can you guys sextuple bag that soda for me! I don't want it to fall through!!!!

really I am out of poop holders!!!!!

there is a grocery bag recycling center in every walmart! -- there was my obnoxiously environmental jab- for this scientist!!!

randa_joy said...

I'm having Hollywood withdrawals SO I came on over per her referral. Anyway I too re-use plastic bags for many things including poo containment. I feel really guilty about using disposables but haven't yet switched over. I think if any environmentally conscious person read this post they would find it crazy ironic that your main premise for keeping plastic bags in stores for reuse is for diaper disposal because they would argue we should stop using disposable diapers anyway. I know this is totally a hypocritical comment b/c as I said I use disposables BUT my babe is 18 months and I just barely became aware of the impact of disposables on the environment.

Jenn said...

You have a very good point! I forgot i reused the bags for poopy diapers! Guess I'll be using them again. My friend took her "new" bags to walmart and the checker made my friend bag her own groceries! I would need way to many of those new bags to put all of our food in!

Polliwog said...

I wholeheartedly agree with EVERYTHING you said in your post. I will actually use paper bags at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods because they have handles. If the grocery store is too cheap to get paper bags with handles, though, I won't even consider using them.

I, however, am drowning in plastic bags--why, I don't know. I usually squeeze 4 or 5 diapers in one plastic bag (see what a conservation genius I am?) Maybe I am buying too many groceries. I'll give it some thought. But I do NOT throw them away without some offending object inside of them. That you can be sure of.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should start buying/using disposable diapers?... Sinner!

Bartimaeus said...

I may actually have thrown a couple away yesterday without reusing them. sorry. (they may have been left out on the counter for too long. =))

But I'll vouch for you that 98.9% get reused.

Bartimaeus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
acte gratuit said...

Hey, thanks for all the comments from the new-comers and lurkers!

Randa Joy, I do know disposable diapers are bad for the environment. But I've come to terms with it. No matter what we do as humans, we'll always have an impact on the environment, probably a negative one (no matter how well intentioned we are.) I think environmentalists fail to accept this. I think the best thing to do is concede that we WILL do some harm. And then do as much good as we can.

But for me, the pro's of disposable diapers will forever outweigh the negative environmental impact. (I admit to being extremely selfish!)

Also, did you know cloth diaper services were found to be not environmentally sound because of the chemicals they use to clean the diapers as well as the enormous amount of water and electricity required?
But that's a whole other post...

Thanks again for the comments!
My blog-esteem is through the roof!!!

amy gretchen said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. It means a lot.

I just love the title of your blog. A look at life between the naps...perfect. I certainly could have used that.

Anonymous said...

My lunch goes neatly in my reusable lunch bag.
my trash cans remain unlined and hosed out every coupla weeks.
My grocer smiles and makes me feel good when i hand her 6 bags inside of the 7th bag!
my wet trunks fit neatly in my waterproof back pack.
I usually p[efer to ride my bike as oppossed to buy gas since gas is $4 a gallon here- Incidentally did you know that there is an enormous amount of fuel used in making plastic bags??? Do you ever think about what reasons are behind soaring gas prices while filling up your Suburban???
Bottom line....To continue to use single use bags is not going to be a choice for you. The world and your local store will eventually decide for you! (thankfully!!!). This is the part you are missing about the issue. Soon enough you will either have to reform- or stop eating i guess?
Its very sad to hear people fighting for plastic...give me a break!


FOX said...

I appreciate your comments as I fight for conservation constantly, but I have to ask a few questions of your comments before I get down on these moms who have multiple babies at one time.

First, I would like everyone to consider what goes into a water treatment facility. What process is being used? Reverse osmosis? Chemicals? This is a BIG drain from our environment also. Especially here in the US. A question that has to be answered before we resort to washing everything off.

Second, we have created a world were we are no longer able to fight disease. Cleanliness is an issue.

Third, I am HIGHLY against child labor in third world countries. Do you know where all your enviro friendly items come from. Did the rain forest timber fuel the factory in which they were made?

I am not arguing. I just can't decide what is better when I look at the big picture.

Since also the diaper will NEVER decompose, a little thin layer of plastic bag around it, is the least of our worries and is basically inconsequential.

and I also sympathize for mommies. The world no longer caters to mothers, or large families for that matter. This in itself is a problem.

btw Doug!!! You are way cool!!!! I love this kind of discussion!!!

acte gratuit said...

Thanks for the comment Doug. I'm always interested to hear other sides of an argument. Here's the thing; I'm not arguing in favor of plastic, so much as I'm arguing against other people telling me what I should or shouldn't do and how I should do it.

Hearing that the choice will be made for me...that sends chills of horror down my spine. Last I checked this is still a democratic least for the time being.

I did look at the website you linked. I agree with much of what it asserts. I actually DO care about the environment! But I still maintain I should have the right to choose what is best for me and my family!

(I'd also like to mention that when you're trying to bring someone around to your point of view, snarky comments about Suburbans are not helpful. Yes! I actually DO think about the Gasoline shortage quite a bit. And I think we could stop it right now by drilling for oil right in our very own Anwar Alaska. Which would increase the supply, and drastically reduce our dependance on foreign oil! But what do I know? Evidently I'm just a Suburban-driving stay-at-home-mom!)

Amber (EyesofAmber) said...

I'm another mom who thinks the plastic bags make wonderful poop For five years I had two children in diapers, and for six weeks of that, three in diapers. Poopy pull ups and diapers get tied up in a plastic bag before they go out the door to a small trashcan that we empty into our large can when Daddy gets home. I agree, what difference does a thin layer of plastic make on the outside of the diaper.

There was a similar debate when I was in high school about the use of disposable lunch trays. Environmentalist clubs raised a petition against them, but I thought they were great because we were able to take them outside to eat. My mom was a cafeteria manager for another school system that had completely abandoned dish machines because they were so costly in terms of maintenance and the thousand upon thousands of gallons of water that was used to wash trays and dishes in them. There are two sides to every story.

I prefer reusing my plastic grocery bags to buying liners for a diper genie or special diaper disposal bags, both choices which use those bags only once. I also can tell how low I am on groceries based on the number of plastic bags hanging on my back door. That is unless I've been to Sam's recently. With baby number four on the way, I'm certainly going to continue using my plastic bags. Glad to know I'm not the only mom out there who feels that way.

We are also trying to be more green. We've replaced our lightbulbs with the compact flourescent, I have a high-efficency washer and dryer, hubby drives a car that gets over 35 miles to the gallon, and we drive to drive our van as little as possible. You don't have to be 100% green to help the environment.

acte gratuit said...

Good comment Amber! Thanks for stopping by!

Girls Galore said...

Now that I'm past the poopy diaper stage, I wouldn't be as ticked if they took away the plastic bags. Since I no longer have a child in diapers, I simply use the bags to line my trash cans and trust me when I say that Doug wouldn't want to hose out MY trash cans everyweek. If I had to scrape wads of gum off the bottom of my multiple trash cans every week, I would be a very cranky mother indeed.

The bags that I don't use for trash can liners, I collect into a huge bag and recycle at the bin at the grocery store when I go shopping. I own about 10 reusable grocery bags (and mine are CUTE from Trader Joes) and when I remember to take them in, I use them. Several grocery stores now give a 5 cent credit per reusable bag that you use. That motivates me more than anything. You know how I love a bargain! Oh, and they also fit A LOT more groceries than the wimpy plastic bags.

But to all you Mom's with kids in diapers...LONG LIVE plastic grocery bags and good for you for RE-USING THEM!! Reduce, REUSE, Recycle!

Linz said...

Amen! I also do not throw them away. We have a handy caddy thing in our pantry to stuff them in for reuse. When that is full, I stuff extra bags into one big bag, and when it's full, I take them all over to the local superstore and cram them into their recycling box. I feel that I am doing my part, although I actually do like the idea of reuseable bags for smaller shopping trips.

I do also make the bagger (much to their dismay) use the fewest possible bags.

Anonymous said...

With 30,000 hits on your blog, you need to look into sponsors and or advertisers. With you about to spend 3 years in Japan, what an opportunity for someone to capitalize on your writing talents to advertise.

Also, I read your many responses on the plastic bags and maybe you need to point out that you believe in God and that He created the earth and filled it with resources, food, water, etc, and gave men dominion over all of it. (See Genesis) Yes we need to be careful and good stewards, but God was far-sighted enough to make the earth sufficient to hold and feed all those who have come and will yet be born, until the end. As you said, we should be more concerned with those who would take away our agency and not the trivial impact of using tissue-thin plastic bags.

FOX said...

"Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; < bold;"> for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion." Doctrine and Covenants 59:18-20