Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Diaper Dilemma and How Many Trash Cans Can We Fill?

I firmly believe that, as humans, it is our responsibility to be good stewards over this beautiful Earth. We need to be conscientious of  the impact our choices make on the environment.

In an effort to change my bad habits, I am working hard to be more eco-conscious. I am walking more. (OK, except for right now. But, it is freezing and we have a horrible, disgusting, cancer causing inversion. Even though I hate snow, I am praying for its return and fast.) I am using my hanging rack more (it helps that this preserves our clothes as well). And, I am trying to avoid wasteful habits.

Unfortunately, I am finding the last one to be difficult.

Each day, our trash can reaches its capacity. Each day, I Mr. B must make the trek to the dumpster. Each day, I am disgusted.

Our little family of 4 produces a ridiculous amount of waste on a daily basis. We have food that was not consumed and must be thrown out, dirty diapers, used paper towels, and on and on. I am appalled by the amount of refuse our little family of 4 is adding to the already overstuffed dump.

I am trying to limit our waste: I am cooking in smaller quantities (to avoid leftovers that will not be eaten) and I am transitioning from paper towels to dish towels.  I am slightly discouraged that we cannot do more to decrease our waste.

Why? Diapers. Hence, my diaper dilemma.

Since I have two babies in diapers, I am most puzzled and abhorred by the amount of disposable diapers I am throwing into the trash on a daily basis. I obviously cannot allow my children to go naked and pee in the bushes (although, it may provide my neighbor's with comic relief), so I must keep them in diapers.

I have become dismayed over the last few weeks. I keep thinking that as Manly gets older, I will be using less diapers. Yet I seem to be using more as the weeks progress. I am in a difficult position because my children have sensitive skin. To keep them in their dirty diapers on account of limiting waste will only bring problems in other areas.

So, what do I do with my diaper dilemma?

While thinking, I came up with a solution, one that I have rejected time and time again on account of supposed silliness: cloth diapers.

I was talking with a friend at church today about her use of cloth diapers. I asked her about the extra amounts of laundry she does, how she keeps them from stinking, and if she has problems with leaking. She answered each of these questions and gave me hope. She reminded me that I am already washing soiled laundry from diaper blow-outs, so what is another piece of material going to matter?

Good point.

So, my friends, I think I may make the transition.

I would appreciate any sage advice in my endeavor. Have any of you used cloth diapers? What do you think? Does it save you money? Are your garbage cans filling up slower? Is it too much of a hassle? Any recommendations on how to start?

I almost forgot! The winner of TKW's lovely giveaway is....drumroll please....BigLittleWolf!!!

Thank you all for participating!!


  1. I have used cloth diapers - both through a service and that I washed myself. It did make a difference. Like you, I always had more than one child in diapers. Disposables put a lot of garbage in the waste cycle. There is also the thought that after children have live vaccines the diaper contains the virus in its waste.

    The washing is not a big deal - and I did this many years ago. The smell is virtually non-existent and I presume methods to keep the smell down are better than they were 20 years ago.

    Go for it!

  2. Give it a go. You can get just a few diapers, and see how you like them, and how the kids' skin likes them. I have about 6 "pocket" diapers, with laminated outers, so they feel like fabric, but are waterproof, and a microfibre inner liner, so they don't feel wet against the skin. Then you just insert a bamboo/whatever the inner is - you can layer them to be more absorbent as needed - and voila! You don't need to soak them - just a hot wash, with minimal detergent, and plenty of rinse time. Mind you, sun drying is also nice - obviously a luxury you don't have at the moment. Mine are from Bumgenius, but there are lots of kinds available, even from Etsy, so you can feel good about supporting an arty-crafty person as you do your diapering.

  3. I have thought about this as well. Like you, I try to limit my environmental footprint, but the diapers we dispose of each day are enough to fill a dump. I did look into using cloth diapers, but decided against it. I am embarrassed to admit that laziness was a primary factor, especially in Tiny Baby's early months when I was considering making the switch. I really admire those whose chops are far more green than mine! (By the way, Slate's Green Lantern did a piece on this issue awhile back. They recommended some more earth-friendly, dye-free disposable diapers.)

  4. Good for you! I've considered the idea but in all honesty I'm still too selfish to even try it. But I really wish I wasn't! I applaud you!

  5. I hate laundry more than I hate waste, so with that noble perspective, I use disposable. But, there's certainly no harm in trying it and seeing what works best for your family.

    p.s. Wordpress rocks.

  6. With a 14-year-old and 10-year-old, this has not been my problem for quite some time, and, even when it was my problem, my kids were four years apart - I never had two in diapers at the same time.

    I know it's a horrible thing to think about all those non-biodegradable diapers rotting forever in dumps, and they're expensive too, but for me it just wasn't an option. I hate to say it, but I knew I was already stretched a little thin. I knew I couldn't realistically keep on top of one more thing. I knew my limit and I was at my max.

  7. I too think about this, namely the environmental footprint my little family has on the world. I too cringe at the inordinate amount of waste we create, but I find myself a bit paralyzed and unable to take steps to change our collective behavior. I don't really know why. I think in part it is because the "green message" can be very overwhelming and even dogmatic when taken to the extreme and I often feel ignorant and daunted. I think we should all be encouraged to take baby steps toward greener, more eco-friendly living.

    One baby step (pun intended)? Cloth diapers. I applaud you for contemplating this change. I know very little though about the realities of using cloth diapers, so I cannot offer you any sage advice!

  8. I figure that since I am already doing loads of laundry each day, one load isn't that bad..right? I sure hope so. Of course, just trying it does not mean I must stick with it.

    My other reason for switching is my kids' sensitive skin. They have constant rashes from diapers. I have switch and switched and have not found one that eases their discomfort. I am hoping cloth solves this problem.

  9. Thank you so much for the suggestions! I have a few friends that sell cloth diapers, I guess I will go with what suits me financially!

    We may not have sun, but I have a drying rack. I only use the dryer if I absolutely have to. It not only ruins clothes, but wastes energy.

    P.S. You have beautiful children!!

  10. I don't think you are selfish. You must take into consideration what you can handle. Right now, you have a lot on your plate. Who knows, I may start and get overwhelmed!

  11. We actually have been using those earth-friendly diapers. Have you tried them? One problem is how uncomfortable they are. They feel like card board. Uck. Another problem is the cost. I know I cite eco-consciousness as a primary factor (which it is) in making the switch, but I have another pressing reason: financial cost. We need to save money. With two babies in diapers our finances have taken a hit. So I am trying to find ways to save. I hope that I like it enough to stick with it!

    By the way, you are not lazy. Seriously, having two kids is rough. I feel like I am drowning. : )

  12. I hate laundry too. I may regret this decision. I hope not because we really need to save more money.

    I agree with you, Wordpress does rock.

  13. I find it more honorable that you recognized how much you could realistically handle. Cloth diapers work for some and do not work for other people. Please do not feel guilty for your decision! A mother's mental health is far more important than anything else. Even going green. : )

  14. I often feel overwhelmed with the green movement's dogma as well. I feel guilty and ashamed. I do not allow their beliefs to cloud my efforts. In fact, I don't believe in the green movement. I feel they use harmful tactics by breeding despair rather than hope.

    For me, I want to become a better steward of the land. As you said, little things will go a long way.

  15. Stop having kids, no diapers or waisted water or electricity!. That is sooo funny. Wow, how to solve this problem. Waisting water or putting it into the landfill or using the gas or electric drier. I think I myself destroyed half the ozone with my family. I could fill a lake with the water I use to do my laundry or probably fill my own landfill with all my garbage.

  16. If you use cloth diapers, please use good ones. My friend's daughter is constantly wetting on people. I never had the heart for cloth diapers myself, but the new styles are pretty cool with the velcro and inserts and what not.

  17. Leaking is something I am afraid of. I have asked a few of my friends how they have solved this problem. They have said that changing the baby at least every 3 hours will usually absolve all leaking problems. I guess I will find out soon enough!

  18. I had diaper service when my babies were itty bitty and I hated it. I hated having to scrape poop out and what not before putting it in the bin for them to pick up. The bin stunk although I'm sure there's been many design improvements in the last 18 years.... They also didn't keep the wetness away from the skin and there was always desitin everywhere to avoid the wetness and the ensuing bad diaper rash. Maybe I was selfish but I cared more about my babie's bottoms than landfills and got my green on in other ways. Today even I'm experimenting with making my own paper. If you try it, dont use a phone book, I'm even more convinced now that phone books are the scourge. They're not needed AND when I went to soften the shredded pages to pulp, no dice. That crap is stronger when wet than dry.... Now I'm working on something else and if it's a success, I'll post it. I hope it will be!

  19. Thank you for your honesty!! I am nervous about trying....I really hope that I can make it work!!

  20. [...] Up With the Diapers? Jump to Comments Remember when I posted back in January about my diaper dilemma?  Have you been sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what I did?  (Oh, you haven’t?  [...]


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