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It Ain't Easy Being Green or in my case a Pale Olive

RecycleI'm all for saving the earth. In fact, I might even be considered pretty "green" to most folks in this non-recycling town. I forego wrapping paper and gift bags for a nice ribbon, I turn off the water when I brush my teeth and wash dishes, and I choose paper over plastic.

Okay. So, I'm not high on the green scale. I get that. But for what it's worth, I do give it some effort and thought. And I'm all for being a conservationist. Hell. I'm a human and I don't want the earth to blow up, freeze, or melt into one big puddle. However, there has to be a stopping point. You know, when saving stuff takes over your house and then affects your existence. Or in this case. MINE.

It all started when I was unpacking from our not-so-vacation. My in-laws had packed the cooler for us, and amidst the bread, milk, and eggs I found mustard and ketchup packets, four used straws, and splendas. Lots of splendas.

Now, I really hate throwing away ketchup packets and taco bell hot sauces in particular, however, was it really necessary for me to drag them all the way home? And the straws? Can we not afford NEW straws that we must keep used ones? Oy.

If you think that's bad, you should see their house. It's freakishly clean - you know, sheets on the furniture, plastic on the table, and everything in its rightful place. Even if you're still eating off of it or playing with it. They must have some inner timer. If you're not done with it in 4.7 minutes, tough luck. It gets put away.

I'm all about "rightful places" (in theory, that is). However, the amount of stuff they have is amazing. They must save every single gift box they ever get, and every single ribbon from every present they've ever received (or probably given). And, bags? Holy Vagina. They could bag an entire grocery store (nice paper ones, with handles) times 27.

When we had Q, my MIL pulled out an entire box full of crocheted sweaters and hats from when my husband and his sister were kids. AN ENTIRE BOX. Of mildewy, stinky sweaters and hats. Like at least 42. That she tried to wash. And put on my daughter. Ack.

And if you try to throw away something. Like plastic silverware. Your Whole Foods Salad Bar container. A straw. You're in deep shit. Unless you hide it really well. And then maybe they won't discover it. Until they take the trash out and bring it back in and put your leftover pizza in it. Blech.

So, while I love me a recycled notecard and homegrown tomato, please don't hate me for wanting a new straw. Call me crazy or frivolous. But there are certain things I just must have. And I take full responsibility if my desire for new clean straws causes the earth to explode. But until then I'll enjoy ripping the wrapper each and every time.


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You can to flavour with garlic to find on a list principal motorbikes :
Motorbikes to 34 cattles

I've never understood that whole saving gift wrap and ribbon thing. I've never seen anybody actually reuse them.

My in-laws are like that (but never ever go to a restaurant of any kind so would probably not even be able to identify a ketchup packet). A few months back, my husband cleaned out some of the old old things that had been hanging around in his armoire for ages - a hot pink t-shirt with some nonsense English on it (and holes and stains) from when he was 8 and other things of that sort. My husband put aside things that could be donated and tried to throw out the really terrible stuff. His mom kept most of the stuff because "You never know! This could be useful!" I'm sure that in another 7.5 years my MIL will be trying to put a holey pink "Pool Florida Swimming!" shirt on my daughter. I'll spare you the stories of rotten fruit with maggots that still get eaten.

the trick is, don't take the extra straws in the first place. right?

it's a depression era mentality. my step-grandmother's like this too. keeraaaaaaazy.

My mother is of a similar mentality as your in-laws and others commenting before me. The "Depression Effect" of saving everything. I actually had to argue with her at my daughters birthday party to "just throw the plasticware away." Of course, I got, "but they are fine, you just need to wash them." It finally was resolved when I said (probably too loud), "If I wanted to wash them, I would have used the regular silverware."

That however, is different from being "green" where the plasticware wouldn't be "allowed" in the first place.

But back to your original point, I am very much like you... semi-green. I am all for doing what I can... without turning into one of those, Wheat-grass drinking, recycled clothed wearing, hemp sandals types (that I know you love so much ;)


My MIL hasn't learned how to use the disposable stuff correctly. Recently at a bbq she put the leftover cooked steak in the container that previously had the raw chicken in it (without washing it). I'll take an unwashed straw over that any day. Ew, ew, ew.

My mom makes me feel guilty if I don't wash and re-use a ziploc baggie! Thanks for the post, I don't feel so alone. And I also try to do my part, but have you tried the recycled t.p.? Ouch, we all have to draw the line somewhere.

Hmm, did you write about my parents? Must be that generation!

I'm with you. A used straw...no matter how many times you wash it...it's just wrong.

God, Dave saves every straw, every extra ketchup packet, every plastic fork and spoon, you know, JUST IN CASE we ever run out of clean cutlery or ketchup or can't drink from cups without assistance.


Oy! Holy Vagina! I like that. heehee

I don't have to go back two generations or hop over to my husband's side of the family to find that kind of thrift--I need only look to my mom. I don't think she'd go so far as to save a used straw, but she'd sure as hell grab extra of the wrapped variety on a jaunt to Mickey D's. Her fridge abounds with ketchup packets, butter pats, creamers, jellies, and pretty much anything you can get free from a restaurant. I'd like to blame it on the Depression-era/Baby Boomer mentality, but I can so picture my husband doing that when he hits retirement and is on a fixed income.

Oh don't even get me started, girlfriend. Mother saves all plastic containers. MIL saves gift wrap. HUSBAND saves plastic bags. This last one is the worst. Isn't hoarding plastic just too little-old-widow-with-cats for a grown man who is still spawning?

My MIL is the same. She sent me all these clothes that all three of her boys wore, for my daughter! yuck! she even still has their crib! yikes! Thing is, she doesn't want to throw it away (guilt), but doesn't neccessarily want to keep it. So she 'gives' it to me. I just throw it out. I am terrible. I know!

My grandparents were the same way! I used to think it was nuts until he told me about all the hardships he went through in the Depression. I kind of had a better understanding of his reusing aluminum foil. He had little use for what he called the "disposable" generation. LOL I actually think, now that I am older, that some of his advise makes a lot of sense. But, it's still kinda grody to reuse straws. lol


That weird sort of depression-era mentality of saving shit cracks me up. My grandma, may she rest in peace, was kind of like that. And watch out because they're always trying to share the bizarre saved stuff with you whether you want it or not (as you know from experience... lol)

I agree that people can get too carried away with reusing things. But if I use a gallon-size Ziploc storage bag to put some taco shells in, I reuse it. It's not like it got dirty.

And I know used straws sound gross, but you know those cups you can buy for kids that have a lid with thick plastic accordian straw attached? Those are meant to be washed and reused, so I can kind of understand the thinking. On the other hand, I bought TWO HUNDRED bendy straws at the DOLLAR store the other day, so I think pretty much anyone can afford a clean straw!

Delurking to say that my grandfather saves the bags inside the cereal boxes to reuse instead of ziplocs, and he washes the disposable plastic plates (like instead of paper) to use again. He has some of the child of the depression mentality, but he really was a kid then (4) so it isn't that so much as he is convinced that is how the wealthy maintain their wealth instead of squandering it. Which is funny, considering that he isn't wealthy. Decidedly middle class for DC, but not wealthy by any means. It gives me the willies.

Love your blog, tho - been lurking for 3 weeks or so - I only comment when I think I have something to add, so I did today. I'll keep reading, even if I don't post much - I've got 3 kids (oldest is 6.5) and one on the way, so I don't get as much blogging time as I'd like. Keep up the great work.

I think the only things I have ever saved for re-use were from some deli sliced ham we purchased recently. The ham was packaged in Gladware! Reuse straws and plastic utensils, no way, but I love me some Gladware.

K, let me know when your in-laws are on Clean Sweep, okay?

I don't care how supposedly tidy someone's house is - if you save crap like that, you need an intervention.

The Penn and Teller Bullshit! episode on Recycling is pretty eye-opening.

OK, they're far crazier than me. I'll save gift bags for reuse (just because I'm cheap), but plastic take-out containers and straws? Yikes.

Oh, and if their house is as immaculate as you say, they would probably have heart attacks seeing my house. But at least they'd praise me for keeping the gift bags and grocery bags.

Holy vagina!

My in laws are like that too. My FIL saves tinfoil. tinfoil! And he stores it in the dishwasher that they don't use because it seems wasteful. And no amount of evidence will convince them that the dishwasher ses less water.

That's not conservationism. My in-laws explained it as "left over from the depression thinking." To which I wanted to remind them that that would affect their parents, not them, and it really boils down to cheapness magnified. Are we in such desperate straights that we need to use the same reused and rewashed sandwich bags for five years?

As for the straws, wouldn't the real sacrifice for the earth on their part be to not get a straw at all?

And there's nothing conversationalist or sane about proudly pulling out old, mildewed handmedowns, knit for godsake, that carry years of microscopic crap.

Cool-Whip bowls! My grandmother has an entire pantry full of stacks of cool whip bowls. Its like the rings of an old tree. You can count the years by the different bowls.

I have to confess I inherited some of that obsessive packrat-itis. My pantry is full of plastic bags (great for diapers and walks with the dogs) and paper bags. I could cover every book in my local high school.

Holy Vagina! That is indeed just plum crazy!

Darling, I would never fault you for wanting to use a fresh straw. Really, one of the simple pleasures in life is that moment when you peel the paper off the straw.

Who am I to deny such pleasure?

That's hilarious. My grandmother saves everything, stuffing the plastic shopping bags she's collected since 1985 into her dish washer. They explode into the room when you dare open the door.

I'm pretty good about recycling and re-using plastic utensils a few times, but that's about as far as it goes. You'll always get a clean straw at my house, Kristen. :)

My husband's grandmother has a clear plastic cover over top of her table cloth so it doesn't get dirty. I don't want to know how long it's been since she actually washed her table cloth.

My MIL queen of over spending and frivilous purchases hoard things like this too... no one seems to know why. It drives me batty, especially given the number of times she has been the X factor in family food poisonings

My grandmother washes out and reuses foil.

Holy Vagina, indeed.

My mom is a saver too. When we were on vacation she was saving the straws for reuse (straws that she'd hoarded from fast food restaurants, might I add -- thankfully they were wrapped.) I pretended I didn't know that's what she was doing and threw them out. I'm all for environmentally friendly too, but certain items are considered to be single-use for a reason.

I'll take the new straw too! You wont see me drinking out of a used straw. That's just gross. Even though I do tend to throw lots of stuff away, I also keep some weird stuff like butter containers.

Man, there should be an editing function on comments- damn I am sloppy. Sorry about the missing words, typos and whatever.

Oh Kristen, you make me laugh. The Oy, Ack, AND Blech of this post.

And the crocheted sweaters- I can parctically smell them. And I am willing to money on it that they were all knit with 100 percent acrylic. Nothing like a plastic sweater that will melt while standing near a campfire.

(PS- Did you even finish knitting that coat for Q?)

These people are certifiable. I like being environmentally responsible and all, but sifting through nasty food trash for nefarious items (e.g. straws?! One goddamn plastic fork?!) that may have been thrown away? That is simply mental. Are they really trying to be Earth-friendly, or are they just miserly ocd'ish packrats?

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