Your family is beautiful AND you’re saving planet Earth? Wow!
Any mommy of a little monkey who spends time on the Internet eventually comes across a mommy blog. A typical mommy blog may feature beautiful, high contrast photos of colorful cloth diaper covers swaying gently in the wind, clothesline drying against periwinkle blue skies. Photos of beautiful babies with bright faces are scattered throughout the blog; inevitably they are playing in the back yard butt naked. The moms, beautiful women (whose BMI could not be more than 18, MAX) with long flowing hair make up the last line of defenders of the beautiful place we live on called Earth. Their cloth diapering blog posts detail frightening facts about disposables: sposies take anywhere from 200-500 years to decompose! Not beautiful. Scary. Sign me up for CDs, please.
In the time I spent trying to be a defender of earth and nature, minimizing the externality that my baby’s poop might be causing the environment, I found not so great caveats. I found that I did not transform into a beautiful woman whose BMI was less than 18. I found my wonderful baby’s beautiful face staring at me every day, cheering me up along the way while I got close to her poop (hands fecal-matter-dirty close). I found a way to balance my strong preferences for convenience with being aware of Mother Earth’s needs. My first step in this journey though? Convince my husband to sign up too.
Husband. “Diapers kills dolphins?” Me. *facepalm*
When you choose the love of your life to be with you forever and to raise children with you, conversations about diapering rank low on the to talk about list. My husband was raised on disposables. I was raised on disposables. To most people, they’re not called disposables, they’re called diapers. Diapers are used to temporarily contain babys poop and pee. Period.
When Emma was born, I did use these diapers for awhile. But then I wondered, why does my baby’s poop go into the trash? Why doesn’t it go into the toilet like mine does? Why doesn’t husband change the trash bin full of dirty diapers with a clean liner for once?
So after a bit of research and reading I ordered some cloth diaper covers and inserts from Amazon. I liked what I ordered okay enough and I felt fulfilled in my job taking care of baby Emma’s bodily waste. With a washer and dryer in the condo and ample bathroom space to pre rinse the diapers a little, all was good and well.
Husband however, did not want to get his hands dirty. The idea of getting his hands in close contact with poop did not go over well with him. Soon he was asking why. Why are we using cloth diapers?
I told him reducing waste was important. I told him a lot of trash ended up in the oceans killing beautiful sealife, sea gulls, whales and dolphins.
“Diapers kill dolphins?”
I didn’t know for sure. What I did know was that I did not want to be the one changing the trash liner every two days.
Poop, poop and lots of pee.
I forged on ahead with cloth diapering and learned the ins and outs. Thicker hemp inserts for night time? Check. Wash the inserts and covers in cold or warm but never hot water AND mild, earth friendly detergent? Check. Tumble dry them in low heat? Check. Gradually grow my stash of cloth diaper inserts by one or two inserts a month? Check. Consider buying merino wool diaper covers at $50 each? No thanks, no check.
On the checklist went. Flushable diaper wipes? Check. Water sprayer near the toilet? No, the Amazon reviews weren’t great, so I ended up sometimes swirling the poopy cloth insert in tandem with the toilet flush to get the stubborn poop bits off. Ran out of inserts sooner than expected? Hand washed and machine dryer tumble low dried right away, check. Got tired of toilet swirling and so got flushable diaper insert liners to lift the stubborn poop solids away from the cloth insert. Check. Taking care of my baby and saving Mother Earth? Check, check and done!
Cloth diapering required a little extra work, but I wasn’t above it. For three to four months I happily and proudly cloth diapered Emma while visiting in-laws looked at me quizzically.
One day however, a little extra work turned into half the day work.
Aren’t I part of the ecosystem too!?! What about my mental well being?! CD caveats introduced.
That day happened a few weeks after a move to an apartment in Evanston where laundry machines existed on the 1st floor while we lived on the 3rd. My small stash of cloth diaper inserts still needed some growing to do, so the pile of diaper laundry grew quickly while the clothes laundry pile remained small. Frequent trips downstairs to the first floor for small laundry loads became unpractical. That’s when I said enough was enough. I purchased a hand turn portable washer and a clothesline for the apartment.
Suddenly cloth diapering took up my life. I spent a good amount of time hand washing those diapers. My hands grew dry and cracked. It wasn’t fun. Damp cloth inserts hung on a clothesline that itself was hung inside a small mudroom. There were no blue skies and warm air to dry the cloth inserts. It was winter time in Chicago. After a few weeks of this I wanted to give up and said no thank you. Yet I couldn’t in good conscience go back to disposables. I didn’t want to constantly take out the trash or think about my daughters poop lying inside a plastic diaper inside another plastic trash bag for 500 years. I went back to disposables for a few weeks anyhow. My conscience nagged at me. Cognitive dissonance abound. Finally I told myself enough was enough. A good compromise existed and I just needed to find it. It was back to the Internet drawing board.
A couple Amazon searches later I wryly wondered that maybe money does solve all problems. All problems cloth diapering related anyhow. I stored away my cloth inserts and gave away my hand turn portable washer. I signed up for subscribe and save for relatively expensive sold-in-bulk-tear-and-flush diaper inserts. That was that. I leave cloth diapering to mommy bloggers who find it rational and in their best interest to do so.
Bicycles, the new frontier.
That was the end of my cloth diapering adventure. Cloth diapering turned into flushable (and compostable!) diapering. Soon little Emma will be starting potty training soon. I’m ready for that, ( toilet lid cover, check, a step stool, check!) and I’m ready to go onto my next adventure to save the Earth. It might start with bicycles. Did you know that in 2011 5,490.631 million metric tons of CO2 was released in the United States? Time to start looking into family friendly bicycling! Hopefully my time in cloth diapering will soften my approach into this ozone friendly way to travel.
Wish me luck!