Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cloth or Disposable? Solving the Great Diaper Dilemma (or, Bum Genius Cloth Diapers Rock!)

Only shallow-thinking sissies who hate Earth use disposable diapers. O.K., that’s a bit overblown. In fact, before we started down this whole baby-raising path, I was all for disposable diapers. They seemed so easy and convenient. Yes, I’m supposed to be a ‘green-thinking’ sustainablitarian(Yep, there's that word again. Maybe it’ll catch on). Yes, I’m supposed to recycle, not waste water, bike instead of drive, etc. But, secretly, I’ve been a lazy sustainablitarian. I talk the talk, but haven’t always walked the walk. Just ask my wife about how many times she’s had to tell me to close the refrigerator when I’m there caught in an A.D.D. moment. And man, before Jack came along, when she was out of town, the AC was cranked way down, lights were left on all over the house, cloth bags were never taking to the market, and bottled water was consumed (flown in from Fiji, no less!). I didn’t mean to be so evil towards the planet; I’m just kinda thoughtless sometimes. My heart’s in the right place, even if my consumerism sometimes gets the best of me. Really, I even voted for Al Gore over Jesse Jackson in the primaries the very first time I could vote primarily because of his stand on the environment (and that actually remains the only time I ever voted in the primaries; anyone wanna guess how old I am?). And, I promise, I’m working hard to be a better sustainablitarian every day.

So, what’s this all have to do with babies and diapers? Well, before Jack was born, some friends of ours who had just had a baby girl asked us what we were going to do about diapers. Hmm, not something I had really thought much about. Go to the store, buy some Pampers, baby poops, throw them out. Pretty simple, right? Nope, they had chosen the cloth diaper way. When she heard that, my wife, being a highly disciplined sustainablitarian, was all over it and we drove way out to the suburbs to a cloth diaper store. Seriously, a cloth diaper store called Cotton Babies? How hippie can you get? We go in, and a nice lady tells us about all of the different diapering systems. My head is spinning. Not only was this baby a reality on the way very soon, but now I have to learn about diapering systems? I want simple. I want Huggies made from crude oil straight from the war-torn middle-east and endangered trees from the Amazon. I want to throw them and the poop within them into landfills that used to be vast open prairies. I want the American Dream of never having to wash a diaper! But, I can’t say this in the company of all of these sustainablitarians, so I nod my head and try to vaguely listen as the helpful diaper-store clerk drones on for 30 minutes about inserts, ammonia-neutralizing sprays, and fitting systems.

In the end, we chose the Bum Genius All-in-One. All of those types with inserts, covers, etcetera seemed too complicated. I frankly can’t remember which version it was--the 2.0, 3.0, or whatever.
Hopefully, they’ll skip the Vista version, and move right on to 7. While we were there, our friends sold back some diapers that their daughter had outgrown, and bought some used ones (there’s a market for used diapers?). They even had several colors to choose from, and I recall feigning interest in getting a few different colors—light green (they call it ‘Grasshopper’, which you'll see a 4 month-old Jack sporting in the picture to the left), blue (‘Twilight’), light yellow (‘Butternut’)….no pink (‘Blossom’), dammit! But, not too many, I hoped. At $12 a piece, those things are expensive! Get 20 of ‘em, which will get us through a only a few days, and you’re talking big bucks!

I secretly hoped this would not last. That my wife would eventually give in, and join the disposable diaper masses. It was going to suck, washing poop and pee all of the time. And, they were going to be a pain to change, carry around while we’re traveling, etc. I even convinced her to buy a disposable diaper can as well, for when we needed it (we had gotten some disposables from a baby shower). That can—which cost like $39—was used twice and is now in the basement.

Well, you can guess where there is all going. I freakin’ love Bum Genius! These are the best diapers ever. So easy to change, so easy to wash, so fashionable! And, absolutely no need for all of those inserts, covers, etc. Just one piece, Velcro it on, baby takes a dump, and it goes in the wash. In the early days, when Jack’s poop was just that runny milk-poop (you parents out there know what I mean), we just tossed ‘em right in the washer. Once the poops became more ‘adult’ like, we just flick ‘em in the toilet, and toss the diaper in the washer—no worse than a skid-mark on the diaper. And, best yet, now that I’m a stay-at-home-dad, sometimes we go entire days without putting on any clothes other than the diaper. They really do look good. And, certainly, no need for pants unless we're going somewhere really nice! Unfortunately, as I recently found out, that rule does not also apply to me. -- New Green Baby section
In addition to being much better for the planet, I really do think it’s as easy as disposables, if not easier in some ways (less shopping, less taking out the garbage). And, no question they're cheaper. Jack’s nearly a year-old and we’ve gone through 3 sizes. So, we’ve spent probably $600-700 on the diapers themselves, and maybe another $100 in water, electricity, and detergent for washing. A quick Google search tells me that disposables can run $1500-$2500 a year. And, the cloth diapers generally aren’t any less convenient than disposables. In fact, the only time we find them slightly inconvenient is when we travel. We have to bring a bigger suitcase to fit all of the diapers in, and sometimes on the way home, we have to bring home a sack of dirty diapers (I feel sorry for the TSA agents who’ve had to inspect our luggage!).

No safety pins, no cleaning service. We are totally Bum Genius shills. Sure, every once in awhile, some pseudo-sustainablitarian asks about all of the water used to wash cloth diapers. Of course, nothing has zero impact on the environment, but I guarantee you that the water used in washing these diapers a couple of times a week is still a bunch less than the water used in the production of a weeks worth of disposables. Everyone we know who’s having a baby gets the lecture. We even gave Jack’s hand-me-down diapers that he outgrew to his little cousin. Who knew used diapers are a great baby shower gift?

And, you get to save the rainforests and reduce your carbon footprint to boot! Now that’s good sustainablitarianism….

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