In Praise of the Plastic Wastebasket

In my bedroom, we have a nice wooden wastebasket that, more-or-less, matches my parents’ antique dressers.  It was a good find at Costco some years ago.  For the kids, however, I’m not interested in anything other than an inexpensive plastic wastebasket.  Sure, it’s tacky and cheap looking and maybe even bad for the environment, but there’s a very good reason I wouldn’t have anything else.

Sure, wicker, metal, or wooden trash bins are more stylish, but the basic cheap plastic bin is a necessity around our house.  It’s not just that they tend to fit in well with the kids’ decor (a style known as “toys strewn about”), it’s not only that they can survive the abuse they suffer as hats, step stools, chairs, and so on, and it’s not solely that they are cheap enough that I don’t care should they get broken.  No, the primary reason I like plastic wastebaskets is the stomach flu.

The last few days around here have been filled with a lot of unpleasant substances coming out of nearly all of us and not always with much notice.  As an adult, I can usually make it to the bathroom in time when my burrito decides it wants out the way it came in, but the same is not necessarily true of the kids, especially if they’re asleep at the time.  So rather than having to buy new carpeting on a regular basis, we make the trash cans do double duty.

Positioned next to — or even in — a child’s bed, a plastic can makes a good substitute for the toilet and is easily emptied, washed, and ready for more in no time at all.  We use cheap ones from Ikea, but any home store — or, for that matter, thrift shop — will have something suitable.  Just make sure it’s all plastic and easily washable.  And get one for each kid — chances are, if one kid gets it, they all will.

So before you decide to go all designer and pick up a fancy brushed aluminum or cloth-covered waste basket for your kids’ room, think about those carpets and take another look at the good ol’ cheap plastic trash can.

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