Friday, June 27, 2008

Greenify Your Family, Pt.4

(This is part four of a daily series I am writing on how to have a greener and more frugal home. I will address issues such as food and laundry, offering concrete tools to lower your bills while reducing your carbon footprint. When I am finished, I will give the series a permanent home on my website at

Do you notice anything different about my blog?
Okay, I'll tell you. See the "about me" blurb on the lower(ish) right side of the page? I've added cloth diapering.

Cloth diapers, to be frank, gross me out. I don't think they absorb as well, so all of that... stuff... is right on the baby's skin. I HATE having to rinse the, uh, number 2's in the toilet. Blecch. Puh. And I don't think they save more than a few pennies each, especially when you consider my time is worth about $25 an hour in the career world.

So why have I switched to cloth diapering? Because. it's. better. for. the. environment. Less petrochemicals, less waste in our landfills. Less oil to haul those boxes of Pampers Cruisers to Target. That weird gel stuff that swells when the kids pee--you know that, like, never breaks down. At the rate that I produce children, my grandkids are going to be wading through it if I don't find a viable alternative.

This is what we call taking one for the team.

My good friend Mrs. Hannigan uses cloth diapers, and she makes it seem so easy and straightforward that I really feel like I have to give this a go. Everytime I visit her, I am uncomfortably aware of the fact that she is winning the green contest in this area. Hands down. So when I found some diapers on clearance at a little web boutique, I went for it, and I haven't looked back. Except for that week with the stomach flu; I looked back a little then.

As for the baby comfort factor, Rachael doesn't seem to mind except when she is soaked or poopy, and I change her at those times anyway. Having a trunk full of human waste isn't supposed to be comfortable, is it? She definitely knows when that diaper is done for, and I think this will make potty training a lot easier. I've always felt that Pull-Ups are responsible for all the four year olds you see running around in diapers; maybe disposables deserve a share of the blame.

A few other ways to have a greener and cheaper baby:

  • Breastfeed. First, you're converting the pregnancy flab on your butt to nature's perfect baby food--now that's what I call a win-win situation. Also, not only is breastfeeding cheap, it requires no factory, no transportation, no refrigeration, no toxic-chemical-leaching plastic bottles, and it gives you a bustline that would make Dolly Parton wince with jealousy. Last, you'll save tons on doctor' visits--breastfed babies only rarely get sick, and they usually don't get as sick as bottle feeders.
  • Used, um, everything. You know, clothes, gear, etc. It can cost a fortune, but not if you get it cheap or free from a garage sale or a benevolent friend. As soon as you see the two blue lines on that plastic stick, start asking people with babies what they plan to do with their stuff.
  • Make your own baby food. Baby food companies claim their stuff is pure, and you can take their word for it if you want to. Or, you can garden or hit the farmer's market and make your own organic baby food for a fraction of the price. Just: boil, blend, strain, freeze in an ice cube tray, and pop out into a freezer bag. One hour of work will yield a few months' supply of pureed peas, and you know exactly what's in there.
  • Improvise. Babies don't need to play on pastel animal covered blankets, so if you end up short of baby stuff, just repurpose your own. In a pinch, you can help a baby sip out of an adult cup instead of buying a sippy cup, or use a knotted twin sheet as a sling, or make a winter hat and mittens out of yarn leftover from other projects. Despite the impressive displays of Disney-themed stuff at your local Target and Babies'R'Us, they really don't need more than a boob and a blanket to be happy and healthy. Keep safety in mind at all times, of course.


Rixa said...

One of my friends who is a veteran cloth diaperer uses washable/reusable/disposable diaper liners. If they're just peed on, you put them in the wash with the diapers and air dry. Once they get pooped on, you just tip the diaper over the toilet and flush the poop and liner together. I can't remember which brand they were, but they were not the Kushies brand. Anyway that eliminates most of the poop scrubbing part (which I never did with breastmilk poop, and now my dd's poops are solid enough that they fall right off the diaper without leaving a trace). I did have a few months during that interim phase where I had to scrape and scrub a bit.