As a cloth diaper advocate, you would probably NOT believe me if I told you I used disposables 100% of the time with our first child. Or that I used them half the time with our second child. Or that I keep a couple disposables on hand with our current cloth-diapered toddler.
When we had our first child, I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. I researched everything I could about preparing for the baby. But none of my research led me to cloth diapers. Back then, cloth diapers weren’t mainstream. All of the commercials were about disposables. There was no exposure and no education about the benefits of using cloth diapers.
My mom who helped watch our first child used cloth diapers at our home. She said she was helping me save on disposables and it’s better for my baby’s skin. At that time, I just wanted the convenience of disposables. I would scour store shelves looking for a brand that wouldn’t give him a rash. Back then I thought diaper rash was normal. It never occurred to me that there are chemicals in disposables diapers that could be causing his diaper rash.
Five years later we were expecting our second child. As happy as we were to welcome our baby, we were also worried because we were going through tough financial times. My research and preparation for a new baby was mixed with money-saving options. This led me to the modern cloth diapers.
I wanted to cloth diaper full time but living in an apartment with no access to our own washer and dryer, and a daycare that does not accept cloth diapers, has forced us to use cloth diapers only part-time.
When we conceived our third child, we were more mature, and in a better financial situation. Despite not being strapped financially, I was determined to cloth diaper full time. We’re also very fortunate that the new daycare we use accepts cloth, with no special requirements. Just send a wet bag for storing dirty diapers and you’re all good. Two years of full time in cloth diapers was not always easy but it’s so worth it. We are very happy with the journey.
Do we keep disposables at home and/or at daycare?
Yes, of course! Disposables will always have a role in our life. Disposable diapers come in handy at daycare (or in the car) when we don’t bring enough cloth diapers for the day. Disposable diapers give me a break from cleaning up too many diapers when the baby is sick. Yes, we keep a few disposables in hand for emergencies. Using only 2-5 disposables a month or every quarter means less diapers in the landfill, and not much to hurt our pockets.
How Cloth Changed The Way We Look at The World
To be conscious of our choices and how it impacts mother earth. I now clean almost exclusively with vinegar and baking soda.
We’ve always reused grocery bags for our trashcans. Initially it was to save money, but it’s actually a sustainable act. Reusing the plastic bag and giving it one more use before it goes to trash. We use reusable shopping bags as much as we can, and collect the plastic bags we accumulated and take them to the grocery’s recycling bin. Honestly, the latter takes extra effort to remember to do and most of the time it is easier to just use those grocery plastic bags to line our trashcans.
We try to shop in bulk and organic, whenever we can. Shopping organic can get expensive so we try to just buy organic produce that we eat directly such as apples, berries, celery, and other root crops.
We try to buy secondhand, browsing Facebook marketplace and checking in with our favorite local consignment shop, Archer & Jane.
While going vegan is probably still far from the horizon for our meat-loving family we are slowly educating ourselves on better food choices, for health reasons and for sustainable reasons.
If there’s anything I learned from this journey, it’s to start small, choose one activity you want to do at a time and understand the impact of that choice. Not just the impact on mother earth but the impact to you, your family, your budget and your overall happiness. Once you’re happy with your first sustainable act of choice, go to the next one, the next one, and the next one, until you check everything off your list. Experiencing a bump in your transition? It is okay to give up on one act, skip to the next one, and revisit what you skipped at a later time.
Here are some simple ways ways to start:
No, I’m not telling you to Marie Kondo your life. Rather review what you have, start with your closet and the kids’ closet. Purge what you don’t use and what you don’t need.
Purging does not mean to throw unwanted items away into the landfill. Sell them on BST (Buy Sell Trade) marketplaces such as Facebook or at consignment shops. Donate them. Or recycle them. Whatever you do, please refrain from just throwing items in the trash. Did you know that clothing (textile waste) occupies nearly 5% of all landfill space?
Borrow. Yes, borrow an item from friends or family the items that you will only need/use temporarily. On the same wave, share. Share what you have, lend / loan some items to friends and family.
Give reusable a chance. Take a reusable bottle or cup with you. Love fast-food or can’t avoid fast-food? Pack reusable straws and reusable utensils so you can avoid using single-use plastic. Or better yet, pack your lunch. If done right, packing lunch also helps you save money.
Minimize or eliminate the use of paper towels. Keep an adequate stack of flour sack towels or terry towels in your kitchen. Launder them all together for reuse. Use them for wiping anything and everything in the kitchen instead of paper towels. We have made the switch. We have not bought paper towels in more than a year. Money saved, and a lot of paper towels kept out of the landfill.
Open Your Windows
Allow more natural lights and change the lights in your house.
Save on your energy consumption bill by switching your home lighting to Light Emitting Diode (LED) and Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs.
Educate Yourself About Proper Recycling
How many times have you put a pizza box into the recycling bin because it has a recycling sign on the bottom of the box or because it’s made of cardboard? Put an empty gallon of milk into the recycling bin without rinsing it? Put a broken plastic toy into the recycling bin simply because it is made of plastic? We’ve made these mistakes many times. We’ve contaminated an entire bin, wasted our recycling effort, and the entire content of the recycling bin will have to be dumped into the landfill!
Just because it is paper or plastic, doesn’t mean it can be curbside recycled. Some plastic and materials require special handling and cannot be recycled curbside. Everything that goes into curbside recycling must be cleaned or at least rinsed. So rinse and dry those empty milk bottles and condiment bottles. Sorry, the greasy pizza box would have to go to trash. Educated yourself, learn about the proper ways of recycling. You can learn more at our local waste website: https://www.republicservices.com/municipality/southern-nevada/faq
And more here: https://recyclingsimplified.com/
If you live outside of Las Vegas, check with your local waste company for more information.
Photos by: Downtown Lens