Eco-Unfriendly Confession

Y’all, I love me the planet, and I try to be kind to her. Obviously,  we cloth diaper. We compost. In general, we try to avoid disposable paper products around the house, to include washing and re-using rags instead of paper towels (but I draw the line at toilet paper… that shit gets disposed of).

But this weekend? We had to do it. We had to break down and buy a GIANT pack of paper plates (made from recycled material and compostable) from Sams Club. I can’t spend my days washing all the dishes, so we’re going to eat off paper plates when possible.

I’m tired of feeling like I’m (in the words of my friend Katherine) “drinking from a fire hose” every day, and this is one step in the direction of getting my life back in order.

We’ve been trying to catch up on laundry since we were all sick for 2 weeks in OCTOBER. I mentioned on Facebook yesterday that I’d like to declare laundry bankruptcy, burn everything and start over, and quite a few suggested I look into a laundry service to help me get back on track. To be honest, I’m heavily considering it.

This is what’s left after doing laundry all weekend. 10 more loads!

In trying to learn what triggers my anxiety, I’m realizing that chaos and disorder paralyzes me, and when I’m paralyzed, I’m anxious and feel out of control. Currently, the things that are the loudest, smelliest, shiniest, most in my face are the ones that get my attention. I have no rhyme or reason to how I approach my tasks and my days. The momAgenda crew would probably be seriously disappointed in me to know I haven’t planned a day out in months. I was just getting tired of writing down “do the dishes, do the laundry, clean the messes.”

So if buying paper plates is one way to help me find my way to the surface of this ocean of chaos that is drowning me, so be it. Strangely, I have no issue using and washing rags instead of paper towels, and the same with cloth diapers. That kind of laundry isn’t what bogs me down. And, I tell myself we have more dishes to do because we’re making efforts to eat at home more, and isn’t that better for the environment anyway? So hopefully my paper plates won’t kill too many baby seals.

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  1. i am the same way! i am a total nightmare when my house is not in order. when things are out of place. when the laundry is piled high. i have a 26 month old that never stops so getting things done is virtually impossible while he is awake!
    my husband has now figured out that when the house is a disaster i am a bitch, so he kindly says “maybe you need to clean something!”

  2. TheNextMartha on

    We use them too. For the kids breakfast/lunch it’s just so much easier and saves a load of dishes for the dishwasher by bedtime. Also? I hate dishes. They’re my kryptonite. I’d rather clean toilets.

  3. I’m so with you! You know me, I’m not going to do anything eco-friendly if it’s going to seriously rock my world. I just can’t handle more stress.

    But, take solace in the fact that you have balanced out your paper plate-ness by educating stubborn people like me about things that really don’t make a huge impact on my life but do make an impact on the environment. I clean almost exclusively with vinegar and similar homemade cleaners. I use cloth instead of paper towels for cleaning. I bring cloth bags to the grocery store when I remember. I cook with less meat. I can promise you that that that change is 100% YOUR doing, because quite frankly I just don’t care that much about that stuff. I’d be willing to bet that I’m not the only one, either. So don’t worry – you are doing good things for the earth even when you don’t feel like it. Go you.

    • Yep, I second what Mandy says. You have made me rethink a lot of what I do. So in the trickle down you’ve made a big impact that a few (eco friendly even!) paper plates aren’t going to outweigh.

      Take care of yourself, I’m sure the baby seals will be okay.

  4. we can’t be perfectly “green” 100% of the time. If paper plates make you feel better and help you out, then go for it. I had to give up on cloth diapers because I couldn’t handle the extra laundry. I barely get the regular laundry done and it was just too much. Do I feel guilty? Sure. But, at least I CD Bunny and attempted to get Bubba in cloth 100%. I just try harder in other areas which don’t cause me complete anxiety.

  5. I do the same! I got really REALLY tired of washing 18 brazillion kid plates every day. I use them so often and it really does help lighten the dish load. With my two year old taking every cooking utensil out of the drawer as a toy daily – it balances it actually.

  6. I want to send you my Mother-in-Law. That woman came over to meet us for her BIRTHDAY DINNER and before we could leave the house, she was doing my dishes. There were only FIVE dishes in the sink! But she just couldn’t help herself. I caught her and scolded her to make her stop. If we’d been in the house 15 minutes longer, she would have started a load of laundry and folded and put away whatever was in the dryer. I am very, very, VERY grateful for this help. It’s probably the only thing that keeps me hanging on by this very thin thread. If you guys can afford help (and paper plates) then USE IT. Don’t feel guilty for a single second for sending out the laundry. Every day is about survival for us. Whatever it takes to survive. My dirty secret is that I’m draining our bank account on take-out food because I don’t have the time or energy to grocery shop or cook. Every day we’re eating Subway or pizza or some other crap that we can’t afford and it’s any good for us. Whatever man. If I’ve made it to the end of the day without calling the county to come pick me up, I consider that a victory.

  7. i hear you on the laundry front…i never seem to be able to catch up on it…and i hate dishes with a passion…i may copy this idea as well…but my husband is far worse at making dirty dishes then Liam…:)

  8. Right there with you sister. I haven’t seen my laundry room floor since my twins were born in September. And the only reason I saw it then was that my mom was staying with us and kept up on it very nicely! I have a hard time keeping up on diaper laundry because there always seems to be something else sitting in the washer :S Oh well. Walking on dirty laundry is way more comfortable than tile floors anyways… right?

  9. I’m just curious how you have 10 loads worth of clothes! I know the feeling, but I usually top out at 5 loads (with 2 kids and a husband). I guess we just don’t have that many clothes. 🙂 Love your blog, btw!

    • I confess, we have too many clothes. And it’s not like we have too many *nice* clothes, we have t-shirts from HIGH SCHOOL, college sweatshirts, things we haven’t worn in ages that ends up falling out of drawers and off of hangers onto the floor, only to be washed with the rest of the actually dirty stuff. Plus, we use a lot of towels right now to clean up after our geriatric dog who keeps peeing everywhere (I stay on top of that laundry), and the kids go through 2-3 outfits a day at this point. It adds up. It’s my goal, though, as this stuff gets cleaned to drastically scale down the amount of clothes we have and donate about 50% of it.

      • I was also wondering how you could have 10 loads of laundry, much less 10 *left-over* loads of laundry. To weed out? Bring a friend over to help. Makes it so much easier.

        As for other way to cut down: 2-3 outfits a day? For each? I don’t think there is anything wrong with a kid wearing a dirty shirt for the rest of the day. I think you are creating a TON of unnecessary work there for yourself. Getting filthy is one thing, but pasta sauce from lunch does not rate a change of clothes around here.

        • One problem is our “load” is really small since the washer is a small top-loader. But yeah, even still, way too much stuff going on. We definitely need to weed stuff out.

          By 2-3 outfits a day, I’m including jammies, which I usually can’t use on them more than one night because Kendall sweats like a man at night and they both make a mess with their breakfast. Then I’ll usually dress Kendall in nicer clothes during the day, but he changes into play clothes in the evening when he goes to the park or helps Scott out in the garage. I’ve definitely been using bibs with Leyna a lot more, though.

        • I have a ‘if it doesn’t stink, it goes back in the closet’ policy with my daughter, but it still feels like I’m doing laundry constantly.
          I also do the sleeper-daytime clothes-playtime clothes thing, and rarely do any of these outfits actually survive a day of wearing…

  10. I totally understand how you feel. We use paper products too. We went from having a dishwasher to not having one when we moved. It is rough!

  11. “In trying to learn what triggers my anxiety, I’m realizing that chaos and disorder paralyzes me, and when I’m paralyzed, I’m anxious and feel out of control.”

    Thank you for that sentence! It totally hits the nail on the head for me and explains in a way I have never been able to! I actually read it out loud to my husband because I’ve been slammed by my extended family before about my need for order and cleanliness…especially immediately following the birth of a baby. And we’re not talking natural neat freak here either!

  12. We moms do what we gotta do! My mother suggested even replacing just one meal a day on paper plates to slow down the building tower of dirty dishes in our sink.

    The question I want to know about is when did it suddenly become okay for women to spend all their time doing dishes and laundry. Some days I feel like we took a giant step backwards on the women’s movement! Good luck and I think a laundry service to get you on track is just what you need . No guilt just time to gain 😉

  13. luckily, when we were sick in December? I had it for a day and a half on the weekend, and then the other 2 (not baby, thank God!) had it for like 4 days. So… yeah I did all the laundry while they were in bed. Seriously. but it did take a long time of just churning it over and over again.

    my suggestion? don’t get a laundry service, just go to a laundry MAT. if nothing else, call them and say, hey when do you have the most machines free at once? then go there at that time and put in as many loads as you can. your hubby could handle the kids for a couple of hours, long enough to get them washed and dried, and then have a huge folding party.

    my dishwasher does 90% of my dishes. I still wash our plastic containers by hand that are used for leftovers, but everything else goes in the dishwasher. sounds like you could use one if you dont’ already have one. because dishes are a nightmare when they pile up.

  14. I hear you! I feel like I have the same 5 things on my to-do list every day & it’s disheartening. My secret is that we hired a cleaning service for every other week. Those ladies accomplish more around my house in 2 hours than I do all week. It’s a spurge, but it’s totally worth the extra sleep I’m getting instead of staying up all night trying to keep up. At first I felt really guilty about it (I’m still too embarrassed to admit it to my mom- who kept a spotless house with 3 kids & a full time job), but now that I haven’t cleaned a toilet in 6 months, it’s pretty awesome.

    • The bi-weekly cleaning service has been on my list for a while. I even called to get quotes from 2 people who ended up flaking out. I want to find a service that someone I know uses and can vouch for, and I actually just had a discussion with a friend yesterday about the ladies who do the cleaning for her.

  15. Does Sam’s Club have paper pots and pans…? Because that’s what’s killing me now. We almost never eat out b/c of my husband & son’s (who I’m nursing) MYRIAD of allergies. I have to make everything from scratch and often have to rewash a pan halfway through to make the “no dairy” or gluten free version of whatever I’m making. (because there are only so many gluten free, soy free dairy free items the WHOLE family will eat) I am SO. FREAKING. DONE. with dishes.
    BRAVO on paper plates for you and taking a step to lessen your anxiety triggers. If mama’s happier, EVERYBODY’S happier!! GO FOR IT!

  16. Hey, you do what you have to do to keep your sanity. For me that sometimes means living out of a laundry basket for a week or eating on paper plates or using every single towel in the linen closet. I often wonder when I’ll get out of “survival mode” with two young boys. Will it ever end?!

    • I don’t know! I, too, feel like I’ve been in survival mode for nearly 2 years now. A big part of this decision was me finally surrendering to the fact that our life will NEVER look like it did before we had 2 kids, and something’s gotta give. I’d rather it be the dishes than my sanity.

  17. Dude.

    I hear you.

    When my house is a wreck, I’m a bitch. When I have a gazillion chores to do, I’m a bitch. NOTHING triggers my anxiety & depression like a messy house & a to-do list that is a mile long. But once my house is in order, I am good to go.

    We don’t do paper plates, but I stick EVERYTHING in the dishwasher. Sippy cups, pots & pans, cookie sheets, all the shit they tell you not to do but I do it because I will be damned if I will hand-wash one more sippy cup.

    & laundry? Don’t even get me started. 90% of the laundry I do isn’t mine & with a boy toddler & a husband, somehow I STILL end up doing about 6-10 loads per week even with a HUGE high-efficiency washing machine.

    Right now I”m sitting in a chair in my living room, staring at the hot mess around me & feeling the panic closing in. I’m pretty sure that once I’m back in the office, we’re getting a housekeeper & yardmen.

    • Ugh. And I’m sure having a house on the market doesn’t help that stress! As much as I’d love a bigger house, I just dread the day we have to sell this place.

  18. Kristy Schneider on

    Congrats on finding a way to make your life less chaotic! Whatever you need to do to get there…do it! The only thing these changes will do is make you a happier mamma — which will only make you better for your kiddos! Love the blog 🙂

  19. You’re a mom. Do what works to get you through the day (within reason). If you happen to have a front loading washer and dryer, get your son to start helping with the laundry. I know it sounds crazy but my 3 year old has been helping load the washer and then swap it from the washer to the dryer for a while now. He’s not always in the mood but the few minutes he saves me here and there are great. Plus it teaches him to help with the household chores.

    • Part of the problem is we have puny, cheap top loaders. So our typical load is much smaller that the big HE front loaders can handle. That’s definitely a must have in our next house!

  20. We recently rented a house between selling our house and buying a new (to us) house. We didn’t have a dishwasher and basically lived off take out because I rationalized that it was somehow better than buying loads of paper plates and I just couldn’t bear to do all the dishes being super preggo and chasing around an 18 month old. Everyone has things they give or take on, I would love to use less paper towels or even eliminate paper towels but then my laundry would double and arguably I would be using more electricity/ water etc. so would it really be worth it (see how I rationalize like a champ), who knows. Do what keeps you sane and don’t feel bad about it, your children will remember your sanity far more than eating on paper plates looking back! =)

  21. I suggest Adderall. Seriously it helps me so much and I finally have some control over my home, my crazy schedule for my three kids, my laundry, and I can finally keep up with the pressure of being supermom. Paper plates at least can be composted!

  22. Once we finally came out of te haze of denial about our daughter’s disorder and were able to even see the mess and chaos we had to lay down the eco friendly mantle. We started using disposable diapers and paper plates. We were FINALLY coming to some semblance of manageable (although it comes and goes) and then hockey season started. We kept with our eco-unfriendly ways until just a few weeks ago when the season ended. Then I went back to cloth diapers. I feel good about that. I still use paper plates – and I feel good about that too. I refuse to feel guilty about my paper plates since they help me stay sane. And a crazy(er) version of me is VERY eco-unfriendly. 🙂

  23. Just an FYI, maybe to help make the whole paper plate cop out feel less so, you can home compost paper plates, if they are shredded/ripped into smallish pieces. Make sure to keep the ratio a good mix between “green” and “brown” materials. =)

  24. We all have our things. Laundry and dishes is no problem for me. Partly because I have a MASSIVE LG top loader that seriously can wash a king size down comforter and also because I’m like a laundry nazi. Dishes go directly into the dishwasher without even making a pit stop in the sink. BUT, I just hired a cleaning lady because I have 2 kids and am in school full-time and something had to give and like you, my sanity was too important. The problem is, I’m so crazy and OCD that I stress out the night before they are scheduled to come getting things in order for them to clean. I know, poor me, right? I could feed a small country on what i’ve been spending on eating out and can tell you every restaurant within 5 miles of me that has a kids eat free night. My kids now ask after school what restaurant we’re going to for dinner and are shocked if I say I’m cooking. *hangs in in shame*

  25. This was a revelation to me. We don’t have a dishwasher and I feel like I spend hours at the sink very day. Or if I don’t I spend even more time at the sink the next day. I hate it. Laundry I can keep up on- it’s the folding and putting away of the laundry that gets away from me. We created a “family closet” that I can toss it all into and close the door but that just means I’m wasting time digging through baskets of clothes to find what we need each morning if I haven’t had a few hours to sit and fold. Maybe I need to break down and get some paper plates.

  26. I’m all about my green living, but your post seriously has me craving some paper plates (I’d compost them I swear!) I am also knee deep in laundry and have been trying to dig my way out for a week. There is still no end in sight. My kids love to play with clothes apparently, so I end up washing thing that were clean but now coated in a prickly layer of dog. ACK@!

    Wishing you luck on the laundry front!

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