Gretchen Rubin

In which I steel myself to use the specialty diaper-disposal bags I foolishly bought eighteen months ago.

Last night, I had to remind myself to follow my Twelve Commandments and to “spend out”—that is, to stop senseless hoarding, to be willing to use things up, to trust to abundance.

We were packing to go away for a few days to a house we rent in the Catskills.

As I was gathering things for the Little Girl, I caught sight of an unopened package of “Sassy Diaper Sacks” in her drawer. These are small, scented diaper disposal bags, the right size to tie up one dirty diaper.

Just before the Little Girl was born, we made a trip to a gigantic baby supply store. As second-time parents, we managed to steer clear of most of the useless gadgetry that first-time parents can’t resist. But these little sacks caught my eye.

“They’d be so handy when we’re at someone else’s house,” I said to the Big Man. “I never know what to do with dirty diapers if we’re visiting people who don’t have a baby themselves.”

“Sure,” he shrugged. He just wanted to get out of there. Super-stores depress him.

So we bought the diaper sacks—a package of 50. And now the Little Girl is eighteen months old, and I’ve never opened the package.

Have we visited people who don’t have a diaper-disposal system in place? Of course. And why hadn’t I used the diaper sacks? I asked myself. Well, I had to admit, I was saving them. But why? For what?

This is the foolishness of not spending out. I act as though a more deserving time will come in the future—a time more deserving than the last eighteen months have been. I can easily imagine the Little Girl outgrowing diapers before I decide that the time had come to break out the diaper sacks.

It was very foolish to buy those diaper sacks. They’re the kind of unnecessary product that just puts more plastic in landfills. But having bought them, it’s silly to “save” them. Not using them is just as wasteful as throwing them away unused.

So I packed the sacks to take on our trip. And in the rental house, instead of using the clear, plastic, grocery-store produce bags to tie up the diapers before putting them in the trash, I use these specialty bags. They’re very nice, very convenient—just as convenient as the produce bags.

But I’m glad that I’m putting them to their proper use, instead of hoarding them to no purpose.
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I've been diving into the treasure trove of information at management expert Bob Sutton's Work Matters blog. It's about management, but really it's about dealing with other people, and the suggestions are so smart, and the writing is so funny, that I enjoy reading even the parts that don't apply to me.

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