Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Saving the Earth, One dirty diaper at a time...

Cloth diapered darling
Hugo and I made a decision when I was pregnant with Sofia. Actually, we made a decision long before Sofia was thought of or tried for, which involved agreeing roundly that the Earth was literally groaning under the weight of all the human beings on it and that we shouldn't make the situation worse by procreating. We would eschew the age-old practice of spitting out eating, pooping, garbage producing infants just because we had chosen to get hitched and just enjoy our lives together without any kids. We decided to give old Mother Earth a break and not have any kids. Well, then we changed our minds. So, we decided that if we were going to bring this child, this garbage spewing, unsustainable being, into the straining populace, we would do everything we could to bring up an ecologically sensitive, non-excessive trash producing, alternative fuel car driving (ok, so she won't be driving anything but a sweet tricked out Graco Stroller for a long time) infant.





The first step in the plan was to find a solution to the diaper crisis. See, way back in the day, diapers were made of cloth and our grandmas and grandpas (knowing MY Grandma, she never did, that's why I included the grandpas in the deal) would wash them out, fold them neatly in a hamper, and then reuse them. Remember safety pins? By the time our moms were pushing us out (in twos, threes, fours and in my case, fives), disposable diapers were on the rise. And if your mommy diapered YOU in sweet little Huggies than somewhere, in some landfill, stinking, rotting (but not decomposing) and leaking toxic little baby turds into the Earth, those diapers still remain. I read an article recently that said it takes those things 200-500 years to break down. Are any of you people out there planning on living for 200-500 years? Your diapers, then, will outlive you. And I didn't want that for my little darling. I wanted her little turds to go away and never be heard from again. So we decided to do cloth diapers.



Now, realize, that the disposable diaper industry pays a lot to keep us using their products. Apparently, nobody in the disposable diaper industry gives a flying crap (no pun intended) that their products are toxic, unhealthy and very very bad for the environment. Anybody out there care to cite that very well known "study" done on the environmental effects of cloth versus disposable diapers? The one that says the environmental effects are equal and that it really doesn't make a difference either way? The one Parents magazine, as well as a host of other popular-amongst-the-mommy-set magazines has frequently cited? Yeah, I did some digging on that one. Guess who paid for that research? HINT: Its the companies that makes the chemicals that are used to create the disposable diapers. And guess what else? That research has been banned from being printed as research in England due to the fact that it has been deemed false information and mere propaganda from the diapers companies to assuage the guilty feelings of moms who just might be contemplating the idea of switching to cloth. Why, you might ask, would Parents magazine, a reputable periodical, print such a thing? Well, open up an issue of the magazine and thumb through some of the advertisements in it. Who is it that is paying the magazine big bucks to advertise in their magazine? (I'll give you a hint; its not the cloth diaper companies).



So we found ourselves in a not terribly unique position of being treated like children by everyone we told about the hair brained cloth diapering idea. They said we wouldn't last. They laughed. They said the first time we had to do a load of dirty crappy diapers, we would turn tail and run to the nearest store for some Pampers. Strangely enough though, we found when we brought Sofia home from the hospital that we actually kind of liked the diapers. They were soft and felt nice. They didn't have a bunch of gel in the center that turned to cement whenever the baby peed so that we could arguably leave the dirty diaper on the kid for 12 hours without her butt getting wet. They had to be changed frequently, but since we did it right from the start, we didn't really mind. We had to do a load of dirty diapers about every other day to keep up with them. Oh my. Might I add in here that Hugo's mother cloth diapered 4 kids in COLOMBIA with diapers that she had to make herself and without a washing machine? Every time I don't feel like doing a load of diapers, I think of that. And best of all, we never had to make an emergency "diaper run" to the store in the middle of the night.



We have spent about 500 dollars on all the diapers we'll need until the kid is potty trained. Oh, and did I mention, cloth diapered kids are potty trained, on average, six months sooner than disposable diapered kids? You see, all that gel that the diaper company puts into your kids' diapers actually serves several purposes. First of all, it keeps the kid so dry that she doesn't even realize she's gone, which means that by the time your child is of potty trainable age, she makes little or no connection between the act of releasing her bladder and the resultant wetness that should accompany it. She has to, in effect, totally learn how to recognize that she is even going before she can be potty trained. Secondly, it sets your kid up for all kinds of convenient products (designed and marketed by the disposable diaper companies) to act as "interim" or "training" tools while your child is learning to potty. Pull-ups, toddler diapers, toddler wipes (in what way these are different from baby wipes I have no idea) and those neat new diapers for 10 year old boys that are disguised as boxer shorts so he won't get made fun of at camp. I tend to think that I got off easy with 500 dollars. Also, IF we decide to give Sofia a baby brother or sister, we won't have to spend ANYTHING on the diapers for that one. All you disposable diaper using moms should try that with YOUR baby's diapers. Save them and reuse them on the next one. They'll still be around I promise you.



So if you notice that Sofia looks a little puffier around the middle than other babies in some of the pictures, it's because her cloth diapers give her an absolutely adorable little Oompah Loompah appearance. She seems to be dealing with the stress quite nicely though. Do I think every mom should throw out their disposable diapers and buy cloth from now on? Kind of. But here's the thing. Keep a few packages of your Huggies around for trips, long days of errand running and the like. I even have a few packages for those purposes. Nobody's saying we shouldn't use paper plates and plastic silverware EVER. But who uses them every night for dinner? Most of us bust out the glass plates and metal silverware most of the time. Dixie Cups and Chinet plates are perfectly acceptable for picnics, work eat-ins, and potlucks, but it would just be silly if we ate off them all the time. If you think about diapers in much the same way, I think you might begin to see my point.



If you just CAN"T bring yourself to stick your toe in the water of cloth diapering, ok. I won't hate you for it (though I can't speak for mother nature on this matter). However, think very carefully about the future our kids will live in. They will be the ones who will have to learn how to live more environmentally friendly lives. They will have to adapt as we have all failed most miserably to do in even the most simple ways. It will be their future that depends on it. Are you doing your part to make sure that your child is prepared for that future?






5 comments:

Val said...

Hmmmmm.... Granted I have ony seen the child for a period of about a week. But during that week, I did not see one cloth diaper!

WTF Mama Nature?

hugo said...

please refer to the second to last paragraph, wherein I established a framework for acceptable disposable diaper usage; including but not limited to travel, vacations, hectic family times, etc...

xraycher said...

So you mentioned Hugos saintly mother who used disposeables on her four children. Obviously you have forgotten your own mother who used them on her first three children (you included). I have to admit I caved on numbers three and four since I had a a part-time job at that point. Of course, had your sister Val not been allergic, I might have caved right from the start. However, I applaud you and Hugo both and must say I love the little oompa-loompa look of my very seet sofibellle!

xraycher said...

correction: I meant cloth referring to Hugos saintly mother and typo the word is sweet sofibelle

Lauren Ochoa said...

Yes, well, Hugo's "saintly mother" might have also made a different decision if she didn't live in a third world country where disposables are not readily available. So I get all the extra credit for doing it because of the environment rather than cost, availability issues, allergic reactions etc...