I want my kid to have polar bears.

I know I sound kinda preachy in this post, but this is something I feel strongly about. I hope to offer my research and thoughts as a resource for those interested and to hear additional ideas too as I am always interested in other approaches.

I got pregnant in March. As with anything that finds its way into my microcosm, I became a dork in learning all things about pregnancy, my body and parenthood. There is a thread present in all my research: consumption. It is something we have to consider as procreators. What kind of world are we preparing for our new little primates? And, how can I be a thoughtful, conscientious and proactive mom?

After watching An Inconvenient Truth a while back, Andy and I made some decisions to cut back. One change we made was to keep our front porch light off at night. Andy said, I want my kid to have polar bears.

I have always been interested in and, according to many, overly concerned with, what I use and how I move about in my environment. I think recycling is a civic duty and people who don’t should be fined. Seriously, it is SO easy and if you took one trip to the land fill, you would be appalled with all the detergent bottles, aluminum cans and white paper that is wrongfully churned into a scar in the earth. We use cloth napkins in my house and only wash them once a week or so. I like running because it doesn’t require gear (save for shoes and a rockin’ sports bra) and driving somewhere. I grow my own food as much as I can. I say no to early every bag in favor of making two (gasp) trips to and from my car or carrying my own tote. And since July 7, 2007, have turned down 52 plastic bags. We never wrap any trash in plastic. Blah blah–I am hooked on treading lightly. And I am always thinking of new ways I could do more and be better. Maybe I am a bit obsessed but now I have a bug and there is a whole new importance to all of this.

Today, I talk specifically about how I am approaching this new world of energy use and garbage production, how it amplifies when having a kid and my thoughts on decreasing my contribution to the dump and energy use.

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Scary stuff about diapers

The average person goes through about 6000 diapers for one kid. Disposable diapers NEVER EVER decompose. Or 500 years some say. But still. Diapers by volume constitute 2% of all garbage from residential areas and are the third-largest source of solid waste. Eighteen billion diapers are thrown away per year according to the EPA. Because cornstarch and absorbent acrylic gels are added to disposables, they are un-recyclable.

Some argue that the production and cleaning of cloth diapers consume more energy and that diaper delivery trucks consume gas, therefore making a pro-disposable argument. I disagree: Cloth are reusable and if the user doesn’t care about stains, a mild detergent and a little water go a long way. And one delivery vehicle making the rounds to twenty houses versus twenty individual cars trekking to Costco and Target dissolves that arguement. And, without disposable diapers, I wonder how many fewer garbage trucks and landfill vehicles we would need.

We use cloth diapers with diaper covers. And those who claim that disposables are so much easier with a newborn I cry bullshit. We used cloth right away and like anything, such as having a kid, it just takes some getting your groove on. It is so easy and we found the covers we like so leaking isn’t an issue and if they leak, big freakin’ deal. We just hose her little hiney off in the sink.

And, for the inventors of the diaper genie and those who use them, please consider what is worse: a trash can that is a bit smelly (breastfed poo hardly smells at all) only when you open the lid or your great grandkids not having a planet to live on? Perhaps that is hyper thing to say but I just cannot imagine how one could justify placing a plastic diaper in a plastic bag in another plastic bag. And tossing it all in a plastic trash can to be picked up by a huge, gas-guzzling truck and hauled to a canker in the earth.

And, I recently discovered we can be more efficient with the cloth diapers. Bug enjoys peeing when being changed, so we keep the dirty dipe in place and let her go on it while we ready the new so we don’t dirty another. This saves at least 10-15 diapers a week. Also, the covers we use (these too–and they are made in Canada) can be rinsed and dried if dirty. They rarely, if ever, need to be washed in a machine. And, wipes can be used so sparingly. Hey, we have to wash our hands anyway. I haven’t done it yet, but it is easy and way cheaper to make your own disposable wipes.

I have been planning to make my own, reusable wipes and will let my declaration here serve as my accountability.

There are a lot of different methods for storing and saturating cloths, I will use a spray bottle filled with this:

3/4 cup distilled water, boiled and then cooled
1/4 cup aloe vera juice
3 drops tea tree oil (anti-microbial)
1 drop of lavender essential oil or orange essential oil (optional)

And then, spray the solution on small, cotton rags (either a cut up receiving blanket or t-shirts) that have a zig zag stitch around the edge. Or, if you have an ancient sewing machine like mine, stitched twice around the edge.

C’est tous. When you need a wipe, spray the rag and use.

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A shorter word on clothes, toys, car seat, stroller, crib, changing table and other crap you need

I wonder why is this stuff even made anymore? There is so much floating around and it is so easy (and cheap!) to get it from friends or Craig’s list or wherever. People want their stuff to be reused. The only new baby stuff we bought includes a sling, pack and diaper bag. Everything else from furniture, clothes and car seat to diaper covers, toys and stroller were bought at yard sales or given to us by friends. And it was so easy and satisfying.

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I know this is super controversial for many people. I am thankful I can breastfeed. It is unquestionably the best for my bug and there is no waste associated with packaging and warming on the stove. And, breastfed babes are sick way less and therefore need less medications and doctor visits.

We are also using glass bottles and glass storage jars (I am pumping and storing milk). Plastics are freaking me out more and more. “Safe” plastics are inevitably unsafe soon thereafter and it just isn’t worth it. And, it takes a lot of oil to produce plastic bottles.

So, OK. Have other ideas? Throw ’em my tree-huggin way.

14 Responses to I want my kid to have polar bears.

  1. Patia says:

    Good stuff to know, thanks. If I ever get to have a kid, I’d like it to have polar bears, too.

  2. Thanks to your cousin Jessie, Charlie has been in cloth diapers since he was 6 days old. This is also something I feel very passionately about but have taken enough heat from other mothers that I stopped talking as openly about it. But I give you kudos for letting it all out.

    For at home I also started washing the disposable wipes and if you get ones that are made of cloth, they hold up really well to being used again and again. Plus are even softer than ever. We just wet them with water since Charlie has super sensitive skin.

    I have also heard that for potty training, this will make it much easier since in the disposable ones, kids never feel wet and in the cloth they do. And there are even some studies linking the gel in the disposable diapers to male infertility in adults. Not sure how accurate it is, but we weren’t going to take the risk.

    Plus there are all kinds of cute patterns and things you can do with them :)

    Thanks for being so open about it!

  3. Oh ya – and as for the plastics – totally agree with you too. Bisphenol A is very scary. I did a lot of research on that too.

    And as for breastfeeding – There is nothing more natural and beautiful….

  4. Katie says:

    These things matter SO much! I’m amazed that mamas everywhere hear & read the diaper info and STILL put their kiddos in pampers. I couldn’t do it~never would’ve anyway. I try hard not to judge these days but that’s one thing that eats me up.

  5. cjs says:

    preach away!

    we started cutting back August 2 (officially)and yes, it feels good. I’ve always been good at filling my recycle tub, but since August, we’ve started working on our actual consumption, or lack of.

    I’m slowly accumulating cloth grocery bags, but how do you bag your trash? I’d love to know.

    thanks for the push! I’m inspired!

  6. There are lots of things I’d like to say about consumption but first things first: it’s amazingly funny that the Google Ad running next to your blog today was for “Adult Diapers.” Are the Google Gods reading this stuff or what? Hilarious!

  7. Katie says:

    It’s so good to hear people say things like this. Makes me feel positive that our planet will make it. Good job!


  8. Thanks for sharing all of your resources. I have a really similar philosophy on a lot of this, but it is interesting to me how hard it is to find info on some things. James and I have been talking about these things a lot and it is great how supportive he is of all of my “crazy” ideas. I just shared my desires with the group of women who will be planning our shower and I was a little bit insecure. I didn’t want to come across as judgmental and I wasn’t sure what they would think, but they have been great. They are actually going to theme the shower around these “unconventional” ideas so that everybody can learn more about it. Pretty cool. Oh, and I need to come by for my cloth diaper demo and tutorial. See you soon.

  9. Patia, Yes! Polar bears!

    Susan, I am learning that the way other parents parent is always better than the way I parent and they will tell me so. How annoying. And, I have heard of the potty training thing to. Can’t wait for that.

    Katie, It is super hard for me not to judge about this too….I do judge actually. It just seems so…unthoughtful? Careless? Inconsiderate?

    cjs, When I was like 10, I learned this at school: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. In that order. It changes everything when you look at it that way. Congrats on your efforts! For our trash, we use old paper grocery bags and if it isn’t too saturated and falling apart, we reuse that bag. Our trash can is raunchy and sometimes moldy, but who cares?

    Linz, I know! The google ads! Today they say Bath Safety/ADL’s/Comfort Items Personal Care/Incontinence Solution. Love it.

    Katie, I am equally inspired by your efforts!

    Amy, I know what you mean about feeling awkward because I do to at times. But, ultimately I have found that people are at least intrigued and have often not thought about some of my ideas….it opens up dialogue. Yes, stop by any time!

  10. ok. i am the least productive commenter on your blog but it enriches my life to no end. Do you recall that you used to wear a shirt that said: “Recycle your life. Give it to Jesus.” Gee ZUS. Hilarious! I of course remember because I had the same one. I would die to still have that shirt. Of a picture of you in that search. I will have to go home and rifle through my photos.

    Ok, a little productive. I have vowed to buy cloth napkins for John’s house and to buy another insulated coffee mug so that I have more than one chance to remember the mug everyday instead of using the paper cup. OK? Geez. Plus, I will keep you updated on all the ways I’m becoming better because of your posts. XO

  11. Anonymous says:

    Amen sister!

    Great tips… I went to an environmental film fest this fall and the 2 take home messages were: eat locally and switch your light bulbs to energy efficient ones. If every household had one room lit with them, we would save something like 28 billion tons of coal a year!!!! So i am in the process of switching. My friends say I am a little late, as they apparently did this like 3 years ago, but being a resident iam a little behind. In order not to contribute to more waste I am replacing them as the old ones burn out. even with 1/3 replaced i am saving on my energy bill!

    keep up the good work!!!!!


  12. I like to stroll on over to your blog once in a while from NewWest and I saw you linked to Green Mtn Daipers. I was gonna go with them too, until, hello! You can get the Bummi’s whisper wraps right there in Montana!! http://mtdiaperstore.com/
    –and just a tad cheaper. Just thought you’d like to know.

  13. cat says:

    so wonderful to see another like-minded mama with cloth diapers, environmental ideas, etc..!! My sister-in-law shot your blog my way and I’m very grateful she did..:) wonderful! both my girls have never had the feel of plastic on their bums, even while traveling! bravo mama!! you are doing your child and this world a great service! :)

  14. Sarah says:

    So I just clicked on this archived post from over 3 years ago and I love it. I’m sorry I don’t do reusable diapers but I do try in other ways. I just ordered these adorable reusable lunch bags for AC’s lunch http://www.etsy.com/people/chickandbud?ref=ls_profile. I bet you make these too.