“Disposable society”: Crying over spilled milk

First, I will let you know that this is a bit of a rant… but I am (almost) literally crying over spilled milk.

Before our daughter started school this year, I was very conscious to buy her plenty of environmentally-friendly lunch supplies so she wouldn’t have a bunch of disposable junk to throw away at the end of each day.  Yesterday, she came home from school and announced that she spilled her milk at lunchtime. I assured her that accidents happen and not to worry, but she was mostly upset because “the lunch lady” threw away her bottle… yes, the one that I had purchased!

When our daughter asked where it was, “lunch lady” said she threw it away because “it was on the floor.  Your mom will get you a new one.” Huh?  Has she heard of soap and water?  I’m wondering at what point it seemed appropriate to throw away her milk bottle when it was clearly not a ‘throw-away’ and had a large, blazing, hot pink, custom-made label with her name on it!

But this is what we’ve come to.  Unfortunately it seems like we have become an increasingly disposable society.  The knowledge that “things” are always AT our disposal leads us to assume we can always “toss and replace.”  (Man, our great-grandparents would be pissed!)

I wanted to drive to school and whack “lunch lady” in the head, to be perfectly honest… then get in her purse to recover some money to replace it… (okay, not really, yet I AM really, really annoyed!).  And I guess this was just an eye-opener and another reminder that we have such a long, long way to go.

I think far too much of what we buy these days is disposable, with a single-use purpose… we over-consume, we over-spend and it is horribly harsh on the environment as a result. Even with high-priced items (electronics, appliances, etc.) we are lead to believe that we should “just buy a new one instead of repairing it.”  For pete’s sake, you can even buy an intentionally disposable camera!

When did all of this happen?  I have no idea, but I know how… manufacturers and marketing, with an (un)healthy dose of consumerism!  And now, we’ve become far too accustom to having “disposables at our disposal!”  I doubt this will ever change… it’s already gone too far and it’s rolling like a freight train.  All we can do is take control of our own decisions and choose not to be a part of the problem.  And hopefully persuade others to follow our lead. Good luck to us… it sometimes feels like an uphill battle.

So, there it is… I feel much better now!  Thanks for indulging me.  Now I need to get back to making a new label that reads: “I am not a disposable bottle, LUNCH LADY!”

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9 thoughts on ““Disposable society”: Crying over spilled milk

  1. Wow, I can’t get over the “your mom will buy you a new one” comment. She obviously saw that it wasn’t a throw away bottle but threw it in the garbage anyway? Unbelievable. I give you credit for keeping your cool and not going down to the school to chew her out. I hope it doesn’t happen again.

    Marianna – Green Mama’s Pads last blog post..Green Giveaways Friday

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more! I am constantly amazed at how people think everything is disposable. My mother came to visit this past weekend and had a very hard time with the fact that I didn’t have paper towels or napkins. REALLY? She was telling me how the germs on the cloth items don’t always come off in the wash….to which I asked what’s the difference between using a cloth napkin and washing it in the machine and using silverware that is IN your mouth and washed in the dishwasher? I wasn’t asking her to change her ways, but in my house, this is how we do it. I don’t want to throw things away all the time. It was like I was speaking another language to her.

    Does this mean your labels will now have to say “DO NOT THROW ME OUT!”?

    Frannie — OneGreenMommys last blog post..Plant It Forward

  3. I know you are right when you say we have become, “accustom to having disposables at our disposal”.
    I also try and not follow the crowd, we re-use or fix most things in our home, and if not it gets recycled. I am glad you kept your cool but I do think you should have called the school and brought it to their attention, this might have made her think twice the next time. They say people learn from their mistakes, but they have to know they know they made one (a mistake) first.

    Check out Toxic Hairspray; sengelmohr.blogspot.com

    sharis last blog post..Toxic Hairspray

  4. Marianna – yea. How do you like THAT one… mom will just buy another! AUGH! I haven’t made sense of it either!

    Frannie – those from “previous generations” are the hardest to convince of the necessity to be LESS disposable. The glimmering hope is that our generation is moving in the right direction and the fact that our kids are absorbing it all like sponges!

    shari – it really has gotten out of control, especially with technology. We are made to believe, if we don’t have the latest of everything, we are somehow “outdated” and being left behind. I know in this instance it was just a milk bottle, but you’re right… I really should call the school!

  5. The lunch lady owes you the money to replace the bottle. I don’t commend you for holding your temper. No one will ever learn if you don’t tell them they’re wrong.

  6. Willow – point taken… I AM going to call the school. I don’t know exactly who it is, but I believe that since I have a close working relationship with the principal she will pass along the issue to ALL of the ladies that work in the lunchroom – then something even bigger will be accomplished.

  7. Doreen: now I’M all fired up, too! I can’t believe the audacity! I am amazed at how quickly our society turned a blind eye to reusing… When my 95 year old great aunt passed away, we went to clear out her house. We were shocked at how much stuff she had stockpiled – tin foil, butter tubs, everything had more than one life. The oddest thing was USED finger nail emory boards. She had oodles of them! Then we realized, she was a child of The Depression. She lived in the day when you couldn’t get another one! That generation’s mentality was that everything could be used until it fell apart. We need to return to that mindset. Also, things LASTED then. Her refrigerator was from 1952 and STILL worked! I think it all boils down to American greed. Companies want us to consume! It is more expensive now to repair than to buy another.. Oh well, now I will get off my soap box! Have a great weekend!

  8. Did you talk to the school about this?! That is stealing! So mad! *sigh* Thanks for posting this even if it did piss us all off, sometimes we need to get pissed to remember why we do what we do. 🙂

    Lisas last blog post..How Do You Not Care???

  9. Kimberly – We DO need to return to that mentality. It’s so sad to me that we’ve come to believe that replacing something is the only option. And manufacturing with a “planned obsolescence” (the process of a product becoming obsolete and/or non-functional after a certain period or amount of use) really annoys the life out of me!

    Lisa – I did talk to the principal and she assured me she would talk to all of the lunch-ladies and ask them to be more aware and conscious of the choices they make on behalf of students… hopefully a step in the right direction and a greater sense of “awareness”.

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