Monday, January 12, 2009

Cloth Diaper Treatise

Instead of blogging, I killed time this morning catching up on my Google Reader, spying around on Facebook (it's so much more EASY TO SPY on than Myspace--there's no "online now" or way to track when you signed in), and looking for more wool to buy on Diaperswappers. Even though Kiddokabiddo has plenty of wool pants for the winter. SPRING IS AROUND THE CORNER (I say as the snowfall from last night drifts around on the street) and wool skirts and shorts can be bought!

Have I mentioned how much I love cloth diapering my daughter? Probably not. I love all of it--I love making the wipes solution out of little cubes of scented glycerine + water, I love dunking the colored washcloths in and putting them in the wipes warmer, I love all the patterned diapers that we use on Kiddokabiddo, and I love never, ever having to run to the store because we're low on diapers. Did I mention that I LOVE HER WOOL PANTS? God, do I love her wool pants. (They serve as diaper covers)

I love the ONE-TIME-ONLY cost of purchasing diapers and the relatively negatory cost of laundering her diapers! (I know, I know--it's not like we have ZERO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT--there's all the water we use laundering them. But we live in the Midwest by a hearty river, and if it's between using river water in my washer 3x/week + electricity to run the dryer [it's best in the summer when I can hang her dipes on our clothesline, because with all the sun we get, it's totally free] or throwing away plastic into a landfill, I will use the water and use the electricity because at least I'm not mounding poopy plastic waste into a hole on the plains that I love)

I even love doing her diaper laundry (I love it more now that we have our front-loading washer and dryer with the extra rinse/pre-wash settings). I love the bin of diapers she's outgrown that we can save for the next kiddo, whenever that time comes around.

And you know what else? I love buying used diapers. THAT'S RIGHT: I SAID IT. KIDDOKABIDDO WEARS MOSTLY PREWORN DIAPERS. Y'all, when it comes down to it, and before you get grossed out thinking about OTHER BABY PEE, you've got to know how sterilized these diapers get before they're used at our house. We're talking about boiling them, stripping them, and washing them. They are clean as clean and the Kiddokabiddo has never gotten a diaper rash from a swapped diaper.

THE ULTIMATE ECO BABY USES PRE-WORN DIAPERS! And that's my Kiddokabiddo! We might burn fossil fuels to keep our house at 70 degrees, but we throw out 1 bag of trash a week, and ain't none of it diapers!


Shawn said...

Yes! This is awesome. What I hate about all those NYTimes "Lifestyle" pieces about "going green" is that they present it as either:

1. A curious sociological anomaly undertaken by freaks. This person is never going to drive a car! So she rides her child's scooter 2 miles to get groceries! This person only buys foods that have been grown in a 10 mile radius! So she grinds her own millet in her 4th story walk-up! etc. They present being environmentally responsible in ANY way as this all-or-nothing thing -- typically with people who are only "experimenting" for one year and then writing a book about it.

2. It's all about consumerism. These NEW products are going to help you go green! Concerned about the environment? Buy this car, buy these appliances, buy this other stuff that is made from these materials, etc. etc.

Both of these miss the point that it can actually be pretty painless, cheaper, and actually more sensible to make environmentally responsible decisions. What is frustrating to me about the new wave of popular environmentalism is that many of the most touted practices (solar panels, hybrid cars, farmer's markets, etc. etc.) are largely accessible only to middle class or upper middle class people (so moral superiority is yet another thing that they can buy). But then our economy is structured such that the most destructive practices are also the MOST accessible to low-income people. In the neighborhood I work in in South Central Los Angeles there aren't even GROCERY STORES within a 30 minute drive, let alone farmer's markets, but the streets are lined with McDonald's, Taco Bells, etc. (brought to you by billions in farm subsidies, and we pass the savings on to you!). LA is the most economically segregated city in the US, so all those latina service workers (maids, etc.) working in Beverly Hills probably have to commute for an hour or more (and they can't afford to buy a new hybrid -- even though it might save them money in the long run, they can't make the initial investment) AND of course there is no train that goes out to the west side because people in Bel Air don't want poor people to have easy access to their neighborhood.

ANYWAY, now I'm rambling. I guess my frustration is that environmentalism is presented as this boutique hobby for upper class people while all social structures make environmentally UN-friendly decisions the easiest, cheapest, and most accessible for the majority of people. So in addition to the feeling I'm sure we all have ("With global climate change, and China burning a bunch of coal, and the rainforests getting burned down, what difference do I make?") of feeling outmatched by the enormity of the problem, there is also the economic and social reality that will continue to incentivize the vast majority of our individual decision-making toward ever-increasing consumerism, waste, and overall environmentally unfriendly decisions.

BUT, recognizing the limitations that a lot of people face, many of us have the opportunity to make a huge difference in our own lives pretty painlessly. For the first time in my life I am recycling (because instead of having to sort recyclables and drive them across town to the recycling center (as we had to do in IC) I can just take them down the street to the neighboring complex's recycling bins). We also throw away less than one garbage bag (between 3 people) of mostly food scraps, peelings, and shells per week, and we recycle about double that volume. Lily and I are lucky enough to live near a subway station, so we take the train to downtown and started biking the rest of the way -- NO GAS! Like your diaper decision, it actually makes more sense for us -- we don't have to pay for all the expenses related to a car, we don't have to deal with parking, we get exercise integrated into our commute AND with traffic in LA, it actually does not take significantly longer. Of course most people in LA don't even know the subway exists (really) just like I'm sure most moms don't even know how easy cloth diapers are to actually use. To relate this back to my initial complaint about the NYTimes, sometimes the most common course of action (disposable diapers or driving) is not actually the path of least resistance, and sometimes the environmentally responsible decision is actually easier and generally better than the "normal decision" for those of us lucky enough to have access to those options.

I'm passing this on to another mom I know!

kristine said...

I so totally hear you on the "going green" routine. Either you're AN UPPER-CLASS WEIRDO WHO WILL COME BACK AROUND when you come to your senses, or you need to buy stuff to be ecologically conscious. Ugh, why am I even saying "eco conscious"--it's such a NYTimes phrase.

Like you said, taking mass transit/bicycling (an initial investment of a bus pass or bicycle) or just recycling (you put your stuff into a separate bin! It takes, like, 2 extra seconds to sort your trash before throwing it away! One bin, or the other: you decide!) is so easy, it's disturbing how strongly it's built into our public mind-set that SUCH CHOICES ARE FOR U-C WEIRDOS and COST TOO MUCH MONEY.

Rando said...

We live in a suburb in a city where it is hard to walk anywhere. The only place we can walk to is a rental car joint, let's call it Mavis. I will be walking there in two weeks to pick up my rental car so I can take a three-hour drive down to another city where you can't walk anywhere.