This is why we can’t have nice (environmentally-friendly) things

This is why we can't have nice (environmentally-friendly) things

Once I had my own children, it was easy to develop an affinity for fellow mothers — to commiserate with them over sleepless nights born of 2 a.m. fevers, mealtime struggles with picky eaters and the Sisyphean effort to keep a house clean in the presence of jelly-smearing, mud-splattering littles.

But there’s one mother with whom my relationship has suffered: Mother Earth.

Though I was raised to respect the environment and (at the very least) remain a consistent recycler, I’m embarrassed to say that motherhood has seen me indulge in a number of environmentally-unfriendly habits, all for the sake of convenience. For instance, I know wiping up messes with rags kills fewer trees than using paper towels, but I do the latter because with two stain-prone little munchkins living in my house, I really don’t want to add to my laundry pile. I know disposable apple sauce cups create more waste than just scooping some sauce from a jar into a bowl, but I stick with the cups because it means fewer dirty bowls crowding the kitchen sink. I know using public transportation is more fuel efficient than driving my own car, but I still drive because I have no desire to spend 40 minutes avoiding eye contact with annoyed bus passengers while my boys flick goldfish cracker crumbs into their seats

You get the picture.

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Call me lazy, call me an enemy of the planet, call me a bringer of global warming, what-have-you. For now, I rely on such shortcuts to stay sane as I navigate the madness that is trying to sustain both a career and a family.

There was, however, one shortcut that I tried to kick to the curb recently. Every week day, I pack my kindergartener’s morning snack in a disposable food storage bag. I reluctantly avoided giving him a reusable plastic container because I worried he’d end up losing it. But using a brand new bag every day — about 180 bags for a whole school year — didn’t sit right with me. So when a representative for Stasher, new reusable silicone storage bag company, contacted me about their product, I thought I’d give it a try. I requested a bag for review and hoped that my assumptions about my little guy were wrong — that his five-year-old self would be careful about bringing home “the cool, new bag that mommy is going to write about.”

For the record, the bag was, indeed, pretty cool. The company markets it as the only “self-sealing, air-tight, non-plastic bag” in the world, but what I liked best was that it was dishwasher friendly. I put it in the top rack of my machine at least three times and had no problems…other than actually remembering to put it in the machine.

For a week, things went swimmingly. Each day, my son brought back the empty bag so I could repack it by the following morning. I thought we had the new routine, lame pun intended, “in the bag.” And then came Saturday. My son had a play coming up for school and had to attend an unusual Saturday morning practice for which we were supposed to pack a snack…so out came our trusty new snack bag once more.

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You can probably guess what happened next. Maybe it was because it was so different from his usual routine — snacking in school on a Saturday? — or maybe it was because the usual teacher’s aides weren’t around to remind my little guy to pack up his things. In any case, the snack bag never made it home that day.

I probably should have called the school to inquire about the missing bag, but I didn’t. I figured that it had been mistaken for a disposable bag — a very, very nice disposable bag with an attractive blue tint — and thrown away. If it somehow escaped the trash, then I hoped the bag has been found and adopted by a loving family that would maintain a more watchful eye over it than we did.

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I’m back to using disposable bags now. I don’t feel good about it, but I’ve accepted my lot in life — at least temporarily — as a reluctant purveyor of waste. I’m hoping once the kids are a little older, once life is just a little less crazy, I can return to more environmentally-friendly ways, fancy snack bags and all.

BIO: Alice Gomstyn is a business journalist by day and a blogger by night. Check out her personal parenting observations, usually in the form of absurd wisecracks, at

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About Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Disney’s Babble and Momtastic. She is a co-author in six books including I Still Just Want To Pee Alone from the New York Times Bestselling series. Sarah’s work has also been highlighted and featured by SELF Magazine, National Public Radio, Washington Post, and VICE Tonic.