Enviro-Guilt

This is a giant plastic bag full of dirty diapers. It smells pretty bad. Every week when I haul the giant bag of plastic diapers wrapped in more plastic out to the trash can I feel terrible. I was blessed to grow up with a mother who was very environmentally conscious. Some of my earliest memories include gathering newspapers to take to the recycling center. Mr. Fob and I also make a big effort to be environmentally friendly. I walk to the grocery store; he walks to school and often takes the bus to run other errands. I probably could take the bus more often but I tend to wimp out when trips involve the kids. I also feel guilty each night as I drive back and forth to work by myself. But we do recycle everything we can and I almost always remember to bring my own grocery bags to the store. So the plastic diapers are one of the major things contributing to my environmental responsibility right now. The truth is, at this point in Little Dude's life it really wouldn't be too hard to switch over to cloth. Several friends have recommended these diapers and they look pretty cool. I don't think that dumping poo in the toilet and rinsing would be that much worse than wiping it off his butt. After nearly five years of dealing with poo I don't really care at this point. He generally only does it once a day now. We also have our own washer and dryer in our apartment, although the cost of hot water and running the dryer should probably be considered. And that's what a lot of our environmental issues come down to: money. I know in the long run that cloth diapers will save us money, especially if we have another kid. Unfortunately it is usually easier to go to Target and spend the $16 a month for a big box of Luvs than it is to plop down three or four hundred dollars to buy diapers for the next year. I've never felt like diapers were a financial burden, but the cost to the environment is really starting to get me down.

Comments

Emma said…
We used cloth diapers with both kids. I made them myself, and spent about $100 up front. I had to replace the plastic pants - with better more expensive ones, for about $30. I think the money saved is well worth it! I think it would be hard to change at this point.
Zillah said…
My mom used cloth with all of us. I assume that she washed them out herself when I was a baby since my parents were broke, but with my youngest sister they actually used a diaper service that picked up the diapers every week and delivered a bunch of clean diapers. I don't know about the prices, but it might end up being cheaper to use the service if you count in water costs. The National Association of Diaper Services (there is such a thing) has a location finder: www.diapernet.org.
Courtney said…
I am definitely feeling some grief over my impending addition to the diaper catastrophe. I wish I could afford those diapers you linked to or the gDiapers, but that's not very realistic right now. And I definitely couldn't afford to cough up a big chunk of money. Even though it may be more expensive over the long run, it's easier to make smaller, more frequent payments. It's quite the dilemma, and I really do feel bad about it! I want to do my part to be environmentally conscious, but diapering is definitely a hard one!
Kailey said…
You know, I thought about all this too when we started having kids. I talked with my family about it and in the end decided to go with the plastic. I decided this when I learned that each route is hard on the environment. Using cloth not only takes a little more time on your part, but it requires more energy to clean them (ie. running the machine and dryer, or the fuel for diaper services), extra water, and the chemicles you use to clean them. Who knows, maybe this isn't as bad as the plastic and it is just a rumor that Huggies put out there to stay in business. Anyway, I am still very careful not to waste diapers. Ugh, am I really about to go through this all over again?
Kristeee said…
Good for you for being environmentally conscious. We recycle and are careful about how much energy we use, but I am oh-so-very glad for disposable diapers at the moment. I do admire those who can make it with the cloth, though. I am simply not that brave.
Mama said…
I gave up worrying on diapers' effects on the environment a while ago when I realized that probably the *most* eco-friendly thing I could do was not have had any kids in the first place.

I figured I was already sunk, and I went for convenience. :)
ambrosia ananas said…
If you go cloth, I applaud your effort. My mom did cloth with a few of us, and I can still remember the stink of the storage bin, the hassle of rinsing the cloths out, and the absolute annoyance of running in to the bathroom to go, only to discover that a really nasty diaper had been left to soak in the pot. I will never do cloth.
Cloth for my first baby, almost exclusively. I love Motherease Diapers. I've used two different kinds of diapers, and three brands of covers. These are the least leaky.

Disposable for the second: he pooped way more often and we only had one tiny bathroom in an apartment. We also moved twice in his first year of life. I went back to work full-time when he was 8 months. I tried later to switch him back to cloth and he went ballistic.

Now I'm doing a combination. The environmental costs, energy-wise are probably close for the two methods. Where you really get green is in the landfill department. The landfills issue is way bigger than the energy issue when it comes to diapers. This is a really good site:

http://libaware.economads.com/ddiapermyth.php

4.3 Million tons of diapers in our landfills each year. Leeching human waste into the ground. Big yuck.

Pros--Environment. Environment. Environment. And, for us, now, it is free, other than an extra batch or two of laundry a week. I also have a front-loading washing machine.

Cons--The front loading washing machine. :) It is much easier to dump a pail of diapers into a top loader. Extra laundry. More frequent changes.

I do, however, use disposable wipes. I've tried to do it otherwise and I think you just get them cleaner this way, especially if baby is a frequent and/or runny pooper. :) I have never used cloth diapers when I am out and about. I always do disposable if we are on the road: that is when you actually NEED the convenience. Do you need the convenience at home? When my kids start sleeping through the night, I use disposables. I haven't found a cloth diaper that can keep them dry and comfortable at night.

I am a huge believer in cloth diapering. And while I don't think mothers need to feel guilty about one more thing, I can't help but think there is a common sense factor in play as well. Cloth diapers began to get very unpopular just after the women's movement, and women in our generation have no idea what it meant to be a stay at home mom even fifty years ago in terms of child care and meal preparation. Women in our generation have way too much leisure time (or what our grandmothers would definitely consider leisure).

A funny anecdote--when I first made the decision, I called a friend who was a rather natural mama and asked her if she, or anybody she knew cloth diapered and what brand they used. She said, I've got a number I can give you, "My friend does everything: cloth diapering, homeschooling, you know."

????????????????

Since when did cloth diapering equate to home-schooling? I think this is part of the problem with most "typical" American mothers. We lump natural childbirth, cloth diapering, organic eating, homeschooling, storing 7,000 pounds of wheat, etc. into one big pile of "out there" ideas. I think mothers need to realize there are options for almost everything we do, and choosing one thing doesn't necessarily mean choosing another.

You've re-energized me. I'm going to do MORE cloth diapering this week.

PS I have a really supportive husband. Yours sounds the same. I would defintely NOT do it otherwise. And if baby doesn't have at least a year to go, you won't recoup you costs.
Anonymous said…
I used cloth for 6, full-time, start to finish. Oldest is 21, youngest is 11, and aside from a couple dozen prefolds I recieved as a gift when the last baby was born, I used the flat style of cloth diapers with pins and rubber pants. We had 2 in diapers right through.

Linda.

Popular posts from this blog

Reading Roundup: November 2016

I want to remember

Taking care of myself or taking it easy