Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How cloth diapers made us a "greener" family

I decided to cloth diaper before I was even pregnant (or at least before I knew I was!). 

I was babysitting a 4-year-old, and we spent a fair amount of time at the library.  She would spend long periods of time having the library computer read Stellaluna (it was interactive, I'm not negligent!) to her, and I would read whatever magazines they had in stock.  At some point I started leafing through Mothering Magazine (no longer in print, which makes me so sad!) and saw an ad for bumGenius diapers and thought, "Wow, those are CUTE!" 

Okay, I admit it.  The number one reason I decided to cloth diaper?  Because cloth diapers are cute.


Instead of a white paper diaper, I can dress my kid in a diaper with CARS!  Or spaceships!  Or balls!  Or...  Heck, the possibilities are limitless.  And this is before "designer" disposable diapers, which there's no way I would have wasted money on anyway...

And how else could I pay homage to Andrew's ultimate boyhood obsession?

So the cuteness factor is #1.  Plus I think disposable diapers smell pretty nasty, but that might just be me.

Then I saw a comparison of cloth diapering costs vs. disposable diapers.  The average child costs over $2000 to diaper (in disposables) assuming he or she potty trains by the age of 2.  I think we may have spent $700 MAX on cloth diapers, and that's partly because I spend a little more money on the "cute" diapers.  It's possible to spend TONS less.  Anyway, since I knew we'd be having more than one kid, the cost savings are even more dramatic. 

So money was the #2 factor.

I have to admit, at this point in my life I was rather ignorant of environmental issues.  I steered clear of things like that, saying things like organic foods were just a hype to get us to spend more money, and that the environment is doing fine and people are just skewing statistics to scare us (I do still think that a fair amount of climate change is cyclical, but that's another issue).  So the environmental impact was really just an added benefit of cloth diapering.

Then I discovered Google Reader and the world of blogs!  I started subscribing to cooking blogs, and branched out into cloth diapering blogs once we found out we were having a baby.  I found out it was a MUCH bigger world out there than I thought - gone were the days of prefolds and plastic pants, new diapers resembled disposables in their ease of use and were cute, to boot!  And it seemed as though cloth diapering went hand in hand with all sorts of other natural practices.  As I read up on cloth diapers, I began to realize that we could decrease our dependence on paper products a lot more.  We hardly use any paper towels now, having bought wash cloths and dish towels to take care of what we used to use paper towels for.  And I'll admit it, I've even contemplated using cloth toilet paper!   Not quite ready for that step, though...

My cooking blogs and cloth diapering blogs started intersecting, and I found that a lot of moms who cloth diaper and cook are into natural and organic foods.  As I read up on these I began to realize that the difference between "organic" and regular foods has really changed drastically over the years - sure, when my grandparents were kids pretty much EVERYTHING was organic.  But reading about the sheer amount of pesticides that are used to produce the fruits and veggies that we buy in the grocery store (not to mention the fuel that's used to ship them from Mexico and California, which is so often the case) made me much more inclined to buy organic produce whenever possible, despite the cost difference.  And I buy as much produce as I can from the farmer's market when it's in season.

My latest endeavor is trying to purchase and consume less meat, and make what we do eat "good" meat, meaning organic or humanely raised.  To be honest, it's not because I feel bad for the cows or chickens who are living in terrible conditions.  I'm a little heartless, I apologize.  But when I found out that factory-farmed animals produce products that are nutritionally inferior and less tasty?  That sold me!  Plus I don't want to be eating (or feeding my children) animals that have been pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. 

To think, this all started because I wanted to be able to use pretty cloth diapers!

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