Friday, February 21, 2014

Green Confession Time

Queen Composter shares a secret...

Now that my youngest daughter has been toilet trained for over a year I have a green confession to make: I used disposable diapers on my daughters.

My middle daughter wearing a
one size pocket diaper.
I love cloth diapers and used them with all three daughters. I bought my first set of prefold diapers before my oldest daughter was born, almost ten years ago. This was a bit of a challenge at the time because the only store where I could buy cloth diapering supplies was in the only baby boutique I knew of in the city. This was before we were inundated baby boutiques and I remember people wondering about spending money in an overpriced baby store when I could just shop at Babys 'R Us. It was the same store where I bought my first sling, and some people were surprised I would spend $50 on "a piece of cloth".

My cloth diapering stash is quite large. I have several dozen prefold diapers, half a dozen or so diaper covers, perhaps a dozen one-size pocket diapers, micro fleece and hemp inserts, a dozen or so cloth training pants, Snappi diaper fasteners, two diaper bag wet bags and several laundry bags for soiled diapers. There were the occasional times (like traveling) when I used disposable diapers when they were infants and toddlers, but my older two daughters were largely exclusively cloth diapered.

But with each one there reached a point when I started using Pull-Ups along with the cloth training pants. My oldest was out of diapers fairly quickly so this stage was quite brief. With my middle daughter, however, it felt like toilet training took forever (actually it did - she wasn't out of diapers and training pants until three and a half years old).

Enter my youngest daughter.

Slim disposable diapers with favourite characters.
We used cloth diapers on her almost exclusively until I went back to work when she was 13 months old. At that point we started noticing frequent leaks. I tried stripping the pocket diaper inserts because I assumed that the leaks were caused by soap buildup on the micro fleece or cloth inserts, but that didn't work. Eventually we discovered that the elastic in the leg area was gone and I couldn't find a cost effective way of repairing them (I am not a sewer). I was feeling very overwhelmed with being back at work and still exclusively breastfeeding my youngest. She did not eat solid foods until she was almost 18 months old and my mother had to bring her to my work for me to feed her on my lunch (she wouldn't take a bottle when she was younger and I couldn't pump any milk when she was older). Then when I felt more adjusted to my life I tried to use cloth diapers with her again and she would have none of it: screaming, trying to take them off, refusing to walk.

Yes, I could have continued with the pre folds and diaper covers, but I didn't. I gave up because I was tired and stressed and for the first time in almost seven years I felt like cloth diapering was too much work. It was just easier to use Pull-Ups.

I look at my cloth diaper stash now and feel emotional. I miss using them and wish I had persevered. But I didn't.

I know all about how long it takes disposable diapers to break down in a landfill, the carbon footprint of producing them, how much money it cost on top of the cloth supplies I purchased, and how potentially bad it was to have plastic and bleached products around my child's body. But I did it anyway.

I just hope that all the other things we do as a family help make up for the poor choice I made to use disposable diapers. Or at least that's what I tell myself.

If you have children, have you struggled with the cloth versus disposable issue?


Green Bean said...

You are not alone. I did it too. There are a lot of things that I've done that were not as green as they could have been. Even having kids is not green. There, I've said it!

But we made those decisions and we live with them and do the best we can with the decisions we've made. Onward! :)

Betsy (Eco-novice) said...

I mailed my sister my newborn stash and she has been trying to cloth diaper (with her 4th child). But persistent yeast rashes have been driving her nuts. She's not sure the cloth diapers are to blame but she is just overwhelmed and not wanting to deal with another variable. I tell her, don't beat yourself up. You tried, and you can always try again later. Those first few years are all about survival. It's nice to have green goals in mind, but mostly you just need to survive. We all fail and fall short somewhere.

Heather Hale said...

I don't see this as a fail at all! We disposable diapered our first because we did not know anyone who cloth diapered or anything about the process. Our second is now exclusively cloth diapered (with the exception of one vacation), and I'm not sorry that we couldn't the first time around. Think about how many diapers you did save by cloth diapering at all! Perfection would be lovely, but progressive is equally important.

Love the blog, and thanks for he inspiration :)


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