The disposable mentality seems to get more prominent with each generation. My grandmother, who was an adult during the Great Depression, saved everything. She seemed to be subconsciously worried that something of a similar nature could happen again and she was going to be prepared. The only reason she doesn’t save everything she owns anymore is because her apartment is too small.

My mom saves less than my grandma, but still quite a bit more than I do. She’s been known to save buttons, glass jars, scraps of material and plastic containers with abandon.

I seem to have picked up a little of that mentality too, though my mom has looked at me with something like disbelief/disapproval as I’ve pitched certain things. I freely toss plastic bags, aluminum foil and even, gasp, glass jars. I have a hard time not saving certain things though, “just in case.” It seems like I’ll get tired of something or it’ll not work quite right, so I’ll put it in the attic and then a few years later, I’ll need or want it again. Or I’ll save a cool-looking bottle or jar, thinking that I might want to use it someday.

Right. Decisions like that usually cost me a lot of storage space and cleaning time, particularly since I don’t even remember what I’ve saved.

My kids think just about everything is disposable, and totally replaceable, just because so many household items are today. We have disposable containers, disposable plates, batteries, you name it. That’s what the kids see, so when something happens to an expensive item, they say, “Well, we can just get a new one.” Uh, no. They, particularly the younger ones, don’t have a clue how to put a value on their belongings.

The boys each got a Leapster for Christmas. Cody has that GameBoy obsession I referred to in my post, The GameBoy Addiction, so I thought a Leapster might be a good gift for him since it’s supposed to be educational. Sure enough, like many toys before them, both Leapsters have already started acting funny, most likely because they have been dropped on the floor more than once. <<gritting teeth>>

When I said that the Leapster just probably isn’t working right anymore, Cody nonchalantly said he’d just get a new one. I tried to explain that Leapsters are not cheap and that once it breaks, that’s it, so he better learn to take care of it. He just looked at me with a blank expression, clearly not understanding why this wasn’t as replaceable as a roll of toilet paper.

I’m sure it’s hard for little kids in this century to grasp which things are disposable and which are not (can you say “dollar store?”), but I think it’s important to teach them to respect and take care of their belongings anyway.

Some day we might not have the luxury of throwing things away so easily.

What do you think about the disposable mentality and its effect on kids?

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One Response to “Our Disposable Society”

  1. Kathy says:

    Oh, I’m the same way about saving things! Of course, I’ve also read “The Tightwad Gazette” books more times than I can remember, but… I reuse plastic bags and throw away glass jars. Sounds stupid, but I have a steady supply of glass jars (good ol’ peanut butter & jelly, not to mention spaghetti sauce), and am out of room in my kitchen!

    My natural tendencies lie toward hoarding; but I also like the amount of extra space I have when I get rid of stuff I don’t need. It also makes me feel better. Clutter weighs me down. So, if one of my kids’ toys has seen better days (or is broken), I don’t have a problem with tossing it. So it’s going to be hard to teach them to value things when I don’t. But I do try to get them to be careful with some things — it’s just hard for me to do that, though, when they have so much stuff, and sometimes I secretly wish for toys to get broken so I have an excuse to throw them away!

    All that said, I think this week we’ll have just one bag of trash to toss.

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