For several years before I got pregnant I worked at a conservation society. The society promotes conservation in many many ways — from using less electricity to recycling to walking/biking to work. As part of their information they had a bit about how long it takes for disposable diapers to decompose. I saw the number of years (500+, so, not a true number but a rough estimate since disposables haven’t been around 500 years) and quickly did some math and thought, “There has GOT to be a better way.”
During this time several of my friends were having babies. I had a few friends who used cloth and several more who used disposables. I listened to both, the gripes and the adores, and occasionally listened to a debate between opposing sides. One thing that kept sticking out in the debates was the cost of disposables, one theme coming from both sides. I even had friends asking me if I could buy them disposable diapers in bulk at Costco since they were spending so much elsewhere. I quickly did some dollar and cents (or is it sense?) math and decided, “There definitely IS a better way.”
Then I got pregnant and it was truly going to be up to me about if I wanted to use disposables or cloth. Since I’m trained as a researcher, I did research. I looked at different brands of both disposables and cloth diapers. I talked with friends who were currently diapering and friends who diapered thirty years ago. I went to every cloth diaper store I could find to play with diapers on baby dolls. Occasionally I even took my husband. He regularly just stood there going, “Honey, I don’t really care.” Eventually I did convince him to decide if we wanted to do flat/pre-fold with covers or pocket diapers, and he piped up that pockets were the ones he would most likely use.
During the pregnancy I was quite quiet about the fact that I was pregnant, so it was a shock to some that I was expecting. I also did not find out if I was having a boy or a girl at the 20 week ultrasound. This meant I was able to register for a lot of more practical stuff that I could use for either gender, including a ton of cloth diapers.
When one of my co-workers looked at a registry she approached me and said, “Why on earth have you registered for so many cloth diapers? I wouldn’t use cloth for anything.”
I gave her my “how could I work at a conservation society and not try and conserve the earth?” speech. (Yes I had one down pat as friends and family started questioning my use of cloth diapers.)
Her response was, “I don’t care if they fill up a landfill the size of Hawaii with disposable diapers, you couldn’t get me to use cloth. I give you just a few weeks, then you’ll be wishing you had disposables.”
After baby came out we used disposables in the hospital. We were being charged for them and the nurses knew how to use them. As first time parents the staff being able to help us was kind of nice. However, by the time they discharged us baby girl had a rash. My husband figured out how to make the diapers fit on her newborn bottom and take into account her umbilical cord. After a day the rash was gone. We had a doctor’s appointment and I didn’t want the doctor to think we were crazy hippie parents, so we put her in a random disposable we had around. She got a rash. My husband then vowed to never put another disposable on her, and we haven’t to this day, 13 months later. We essentially found the better way and who knew that baby girl would be such an environmentalist at such a young age? And not only is she an environmentalist, she also helps us save money since after 8 months we essentially “stopped” paying for diapers.
Now when I ask myself, “Is there a better way?” I really can’t think of any.
Bio: Carolyn conserves as much as she can by simply using less stuff. This includes using fewer diapers, just using the diapers more than once!