I’m a crunchy mom. Really, I am. Wanna hear my credentials? Well, there’s the prenatal stuff: I did prenatal yoga, had a doula, and a midwife. There’s the parenting stuff: I breastfed (even tandem nursed), coslept (didn’t even set up the crib with our second baby), and babywore. Our kids attend Montessori school, we practice gentle discipline, and we selectively vaccinate. There’s the green stuff: we recycle, use natural cleaning products, we're vegetarian, and nearly all the food in our house is organic. Have you ever heard the song, “Hippies Lament” by Wally Pleasant? There I am (ha, ha)!
The thing is, I have a confession to make. It’s something that separates me from crunchy mamas everywhere. Are you ready? I didn’t cloth diaper my kids. Nope. In fact, with my first child, we used straight up Pampers Premium (I’m ducking as green and crunchy things are being thrown at the screen). I suppose I have excuses: I grew up helping my mom cloth diaper my sisters and remembered the folding, the pinning (the poking my fingers), the stinky diaper pails. Cloth diapering seemed old-fashioned, and quite literally a pain. Plus, I run a business with my husband – so never was a full-time stay-at-home mom (I’ve done a combo of WorkAtHome/BringBabytoWork/WorkWithaNanny). When I did a little research into cloth, it seemed like such a large up-front investment. And frankly, I’m horrible at laundry. It just didn’t seem like cloth diapering would work for me.
But, really? These are just excuses, not justifications.
Because the thing is, all excuses aside, I should have cloth diapered. I should’ve done my research. I should have realized that the growing pains associated with starting cloth, were likely to have been short-lived. I believe now that had we stuck it out and found a set of diapers that worked (we did try – very briefly – cloth diapering with a few Fuzzi Bunz on loan from a friend, and a bunch of gDiapers, which I later returned), we would have ended up saving some money in the long run (we used mostly Pampers premium & 7th Generation with our first child and solely 7th Generation disposables with our second child – in other words: expensive) particularly with reselling the used ones, we would potentially have avoided the seemingly endless succession of diaper rashes our daughter had (did you know that Pampers Premium diapers contain the additives: Petrolatum, Stearyl Alcohol, and Aloe Barbadensis Extract?), and maybe most importantly, though certainly most assuredly, by cloth diapering, we would have kept pounds and pounds of stinky non-biodegradable waste material out of landfills and out of the ground water. Waste materials, mind you, that will be there for hundreds of years. Soiled diapers that will still be decomposing long after we and our conveniently-diapered children are no longer earthside.
To put it plainly, the clean air council indicates (I’ve decided to cut & paste the exact text because the numbers are so startling that they need repeating): An average child will use between 8,000 -10,000 disposable diapers ($2,000 worth) before being potty trained. Each year, parents and babysitters dispose of about 18 billion of these items. In the United States alone these single-use items consume nearly 100,000 tons of plastic and 800,000 tons of tree pulp. We will pay an average of $350 million annually to deal with their disposal and, to top it off, these diapers will still be in the landfill 300 years from now. Americans throw away 570 diapers per second. That's 49 million diapers per day. [source: http://www.cleanair.org/Waste/wasteFacts.html]
Back to my words: 49 million diapers a day. That’s disgusting. And it’s not fair to our children, nor to our children’s children’s children.
Why am I telling you this? To assuage my guilt? Maybe that’s a little of it. But mostly, I think I’m confessing to let moms - crunchy or not - who might be leaning towards disposable diapering, know that while the potential “convenience” of disposable diapers is tempting, it just doesn’t compare to the inconvenience to our environment. The amount of trash you’ll leave behind (that I left behind) for those years of convenience just. isn’t. worth it. Everything I’ve read and understood and seen firsthand from friends who made the environmentally-friendly choice, is that choosing to cloth diaper your babies is nearly as convenient as disposables (especially with the advent of AIO cloth diapers), less expensive than disposables, leaves far less of a carbon footprint (especially if you line dry), is eons “greener” than disposable diapering, and, means you don’t have to end up writing a crunchy confession post like me.
So do/did you cloth diaper? Or do/did you use disposables like me? Confess... it just feels better. :)