On cold damp mornings in our Oregon winter I often am reminded by my aches and pains that I am no longer a spring chicken. The years have taken a toll but also provided a lot of insight that younger, more spry people may not have gained. And yet, I am encouraged by how many young people ARE catching on that changes need to be made. And sometimes, just sometimes, it is a step back.
We love our technology. Most of us carry our mobile phones with us, feeling naked if we leave them at home. Those of us who remember the original Get Smart shoe phone are amused (and challenged) by the multitude of apps that new cell phone provides. I grab it often to check my email, post an appointment on my calendar, make notations of my driving for work. Sometimes, I even make phone calls.
Technology brings us wondrous advances, but sometimes, it creates a bit of a monster.
My first baby will be celebrating his 33rd birthday this week and would be chagrined to find out I am talking about how I diapered him, but it is time we do that. Not him, specifically (phew!) but the choice made by millions of parents to use disposable diapers presents us with a mountain that will not disappear in our lifetime. Nor in our babies’ lifetime and even their grandchildren’s lifetime. The ease of taking that sodden mess and putting it in the trash has to be balanced with the hassle of washing cotton cloth to use and reuse and reuse again. Long after that baby is toilet trained, those cotton cloths can be used and reused as rags. And when it is time to retire them, they can be composted, where they will return to the soil.
One of the best gifts I received when my first son was born in 1983 was six months of a diaper service. By that time I saw we could save money by washing them ourselves instead of renewing the service, and so, we used the cotton. Not to say we never used disposables, but they were for car trips and vacations when access to a washing machine was restricted and the aroma was not able to be contained as well.
However, technological advances have offered even more options since my now 22-year-old was born in 1994. Now there are disposable diapers that can be flushed down the toilet and get broken down in wastewater treatment plants with other human waste. There are also compostible diapers but some brands are better than others. For more info on choices, check out this blog.
And guess what, it basically boils down to cotton is still the best option if you have easy access to laundry facilities. The cost of clean supplies is less with cotton and the cost to wash them, while considerable, is less than the cost to dispose of flushables or compostibles that have plastic.
That is the personal cost benefit analysis, but when you look at what your community deals with, it becomes more evident that the discussion has to be made that technology is not the winner here.
This is a representative (clean) pile of the disposable diapers one baby will use. If that doesn’t make an impact on the decision making process for parents who consider themselves to be green, then perhaps the consideration of how long the used diapers will take to decompose may do the trick.
So, the choice is clear. Can we invite you to join the club?