Plastic Swag

Day 282

While unloading the dishwasher, my oldest, Kayla said, “How did we get so many plates?”

I said, “Well because….uh….”

How DID we get so many plates?  When we moved here 10 months ago, we only had six.

Well the answer is simple; clearly they are multiplying in the cabinet. This is not my fault, that’s what happens when you mix slightly trashy plastic floral numbers with aging Italian Rustico.  They can’t help themselves.

On second thought, two people gave us Christmas cookies on non-disposable plates…oh, I bought a hardly-been-used 16-piece place setting of the aforementioned plastic outdoor dishes for $4 at a garage sale, I intended to give away as a gift.  Then we had visitors for dinner and used them and now they’ve been assimilated into our standard rotation.

My point?

In spite of my best efforts, additional stuff still creeps into our house. Most of it comes via gifts which are acceptable under our Simple Year rules, and a legion of Chinese plastic toys and logoed merchandise that is gifted to us at every event we attend.

Prior to The Simple Year, I never realized the QUANTITY of little plastic thingamajigs that pervade our life.  But under my heightened awareness, I have a new appreciation for the magnitude of useless paraphernalia that passes through our doors even though we are not BUYING it. Every trip to a festival, birthday party, or even school parties net them a bagful of things like leering animal finger puppets, tiny squashy looking rubber ducks, hand shaped clappers, assorted plastic bracelets and at least a billion stickers and “tattoos”.

The Prize Box

The Prize Box

So, I know these “prizes” are given with good intent.  However, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only parent that under the cover of night, sends all that stuff on a one-way vacation to the landfill for the next 320 years.  Then I feel guilty, not only about the added trash, but that if the kids remember they have a missing paper fan and a flip flop necklace I have to play dumb.  Some call it lying by omission; I prefer to think of it as selective recall.

So those of you with no children or very small children are probably wondering why I don’t just say, “No Thanks.”

Well, because I don’t want to be THAT mom.   I want to be Boss mom with a capitol B, not bossy mom shrieking, NO, NO, NO, in front of all their friends and generally causing a ruckus making everyone, kid and prize giver alike, uncomfortable.

Although, I recognize that sometimes as a parent, you have to make the hard decisions. So I have even sought out a couple of green parenting blogs looking for some good advice about the issue and I noticed they tend to get a bit radical and fist waving about this topic and generally advocate complete abstinence and encourage parents to inform the giver of said item, “thanks, but no thanks, to your toxic attempt to introduce plastic into our BPA absent, clutter free, zero impact lives.”  Well, maybe not those exact words, but you get the point.

The truth is I’m trying to straddle some middle line as well as teach my children some basic manners about giving and getting gifts.  On principle, I find it a little rude to REFUSE to take the goody bag on some moral high ground (although if we “accidentally” forget to take it, that’s OK, but my kids have good recall when it comes to this sort of thing).    At a recent birthday party my oldest attended, the party favors were classic books like Little Women.  I almost wept with gratitude.

But, I also didn’t make a scene when the kids recently “won” eleven trips to the prize box EACH at a pool party at our health club—even though I really wanted to.

Little vignette I found on the side of the bathtub in which apparently squashy duck and frog on a spring are meeting their new neighbors.

Little vignette I found on the side of the bathtub tonight. I think they are discussing all the mysterious disappearances of their comrades.