Thursday, January 17, 2008


Aoife in her "ubernachten-poopenstopper" (overnight diaper) last winter.

I don't really get on my high horse about anything. The way I see it, everybody has their own way of doing things, and they can just do it the way they want to. I have always kind of bumbled my way through life and made decisions that seemed practical to me, and they've worked for me. I haven't ever really obsessed about much. I do things that to me, make sense. I think this is why most people do things.

There are things that I do that some people are really into, and to them it makes a statement. Like breast-feeding. I nurse my kids all the time, when they want, as long as they want, as much as they want. Aoife is almost two and probably won't wean for another year. This is fine with me. I don't feel the need to talk about it. I don't care if the next person weans at a year or at four years. I guess I do feel a little animosity towards people who either don't breastfeed by choice or wean super-early but this is just rooted in my own milk-anxieties which are born out of not being able to nurse Charlotte. My point is, I don't really have an opinion one way or another about other people in my same situation who choose to or not to breast feed. No matter when people choose to wean they usually have some rational argument that makes sense to them.

So here's the only place where I just don't get it. And here I will sound like I am up on my high horse, trying to make an environmental statement, but really, truly, I am just befuddled.

Disposable diapers.

I am just completely in awe of the amazingly effective marketing scam that has created cloth diapers as this messy, difficult, time consuming endeavor which is easily and inexpensively replaced with chemical-ridden disposable diapers.

The reason why I am so befuddled is this.

You put the diaper on. There are no longer pins or anything, so this is easy and quick. Maybe 3 more seconds than a disposable. The baby poops/pees. You take off the diaper (comparable time as disposables) and either throw it in the pail, or rinse it quickly in the toilet and throw it in the pail.
Every few days, you dump the pail in the washer. You pour soap in, press start. This is the same method you use for the other 8 loads of laundry you have done in the last 3 days. So what's one more?

The overall cost? So incredibly cheap compared to disposables. And your next kid? Absolutely, 100% free with no charge, recycled, reused, rewashed, loved diapers.

So this is completely, environmentally nonwithstanding, confusing to me, why so many people who are thinking about their checkbooks would think that cloth was just "too difficult". There is so, absolutely, nothing difficult. I will admit that sometimes, with a really messy poop away from home, I do long to chuck the diaper in the trash instead of doggy-bagging it back home. But really, it's not that bad.
And so then we could just peek at the environmental issue, which will of course make me look more like a militant environmentalist trying to push for less waste in the landfills. Diapers are the third? fourth? I am forgetting... right up there in the top 4 for solid waste in the NATION. This is gross and unecessary. Technically it is illegal to put solid waste in a landfill, but I have only ever met one paper diaper user (she had no washer and was 5 miles from the laundromat) who actually scraped her poop out of her disposables before throwing them out. So this is gross, and then what about all those little crystals that automatically inflate when your child pees to keep her nice and dry? What do they do when they decompose? Just wondering; seriously, I am not trying to make a statement, just thinking out loud.

And then there is that study that we've all heard about, the one where they say that the environmental impact of laundering diapers is equal to that of disposables. First of all, think of this. The factory that makes the diapers. The trucks that bring in the materials to make the diapers. The trucks that truck out the diapers to the stores. The actual diaper factory energy use. The diapers in the landfill. The bleach for the paper. Compare this to: my washing machine, doing maybe two loads a week.

Second of all? Pampers sponsored the study. The studies. All of them.

Truly, I made the decision to use cloth diapers because to me, it seemed illogical not to. I think I have paid maybe $300 total in diapers for a total of now almost 4 years of solid diapering, for one of those there were 2 children in diapers. So this made sense to me. And it's not hard.
So this place just seemed like the place for me to say what I would never, ever say.

Why do you use disposable diapers? I just don't get it.


Aimee said...

Thank you for saying what nobody every says--we used disposables at first with our first because we were stupid. We have been all cloth since and I can't imagine going back. When my SIL had a baby, I gave her some Fuzzi Bunz...I never even asked. Just gave them to her. And she uses them.

sweetsalty kate said...

We're a fuzzibuns family too, like aimee this is a new development since having our second child. We LOVE them, and I can't believe I used disposables with our first ( - but now only a few months into it we are facing the dreaded ammonia stink, despite using the right soap, not much of it, and stripping with baking soda and vinegar. Grrr! Any hints, sage cloth-veteran?

Rixa said...

I totally agree about the diapers. Cloth just seemed like a total no-brainer to me. I think so many people have this image from back in our parents' generation where you had to dunk and swish and soak and pin and fold and use those icky rubber pants that always smelled like pee.

I offered to make a full set (48 each of 2 different sizes) of hemp fleece AIOs for my SIL who just had twins. She declined. In a way I was glad because it would have been a LOT of work for me, but they are desperately poor and already own a washer and dryer.