Since having kids, I've realized it's worth "splurging" on certain non-essential grocery items — because honestly, they make our day-to-day lives run more smoothly. Frozen egg-and-cheese pita sandwiches and french toast sticks? Pop 'em in the microwave and breakfast is served! Juice boxes instead of a big jug of juice? Grab-and-go is the way to go. Disposable diapers? We've never used anything but. Because when you're trying to keep up with multiple, young children, convenience and saving time are high on your priority list. Well, this mom bought a massive amount of paper plates, and her reasoning is both touching and genius.
A mom named Annie — who runs the Facebook page Laughter and Kisses — shared a recent encounter she had while checking out at Costco, PopSugar reported. In her post, Annie explained she was waiting in line at the checkout, and a woman in front of her was purchasing typical "mom" items, like milk, a gallon-tub of yogurt, a big bag of apples, and sugary cereal. You know, the usual. Except one thing about the items in her cart seemed slightly odd: A massive amount of paper plates. "The cashier politely asked if she was having a graduation party or something," Annie wrote. "She responded no. 'I used them at every meal. You see I have young kids, and I get stuck with meal clean up all the time. This is the one thing I treat myself to. I way rather be spending that time with my kids then doing the dishes.'" She continued:
The young cashier smiled with her Instagram worthy make-up and well rested eyes. Obviously, she did not understand. I smiled to myself. I understood.
A few weeks after her encounter at Costco, Annie was again grocery shopping. She was trying to figure out the math for the price per load on dishwasher soap, when she remembered that mother's words. "That woman’s voice popped into my head," Annie wrote. 'She would rather spend that time with her kids.' I booked it the paper goods a few aisles over, and I treated myself to a few extra memories with my kids." Annie continued:
Instead of stressing over getting the dishes loaded before bed time, I ran in the back yard with my kids chasing the soccer ball. We enjoyed roasted marshmallows by the fire instead of me scrubbing those plastic Paw Patrol plates. I treated myself to a stack of paper plates and a life time of memories with my kids this week!
To be completely honest, I buy paper plates every week at the grocery store for this very reason. On one hand, it saves so much time and hassle for quick snacks and meals. This is time better spent on other household chores, or as the Costco mom said, just hanging out with my children. On the other hand ... the planet. We recycle a large bin-full of cardboard, aluminum, paper, etc. every single week. And I'm well-aware that paper plates are completely unnecessary and wasteful.
As Livestrong reported, unlike other paper products, paper plates are contaminated with food residue after they're used and therefore, cannot be recycled. So unless a family has a a home composting system, the paper plates wind up in landfills. And guess what happens after that? It takes about 20 years for paper plates to decompose, according to North Carolina State University.
But still. With all of this in mind, it's difficult to argue that paper plates aren't a fantastic tool for parents who are short on time. Each family needs to weigh the costs (financial and environmental) and benefits (quality time and sanity) to decide whether they're worth it on any given day. As for me, I continue to buy paper plates. The habit began as an act of desperation after we welcomed our third child, and just sort of stuck. So to the Costco mom and Annie: I totally feel you guys. I just shudder to think what the environmental impacts might be if we all decided to "lean into the paper."