Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Little Emperor's New Clothes

Is poo a puerile topic?  Perhaps.  It certainly is easy fodder for a lot of shame-based humor.  But perilous things begin to happen when we don’t give poo its rightful place in the world.  As parents, often quite unwittingly, we become purveyors of poo.  With all of the other pressing issues facing new parents, it’s easy to push this one to the back burner.    But after sixteen months of letting my baby’s poo lead me around by the nose, I am turning the tables, and taking matters into my own hands.  

I really don’t mind sacrificing my fine, youthful hands for the benefits of cloth diapering.  While my skin may be crying, the earth, I swear, is grinning ear to ear.  And these five-blowout mornings, like five-alarm fires, are nothing less than heroic.  I always wanted to be a hero.  Even if I must eek out my days as the unsung heroine of my baby’s butt.

I think one day when he’s older, and enjoying hopefully a few more mountains and a few less mountains of waste, he’ll thank me for it.

Prior to my recent switch to cloth, my approach to all things diaper was really half-assed.  I had considered cloth briefly, but my partner had heartily poo-pooed the idea, saying he didn’t want the washer abused.  But since he doesn’t really lend much of a hand in the diapering arena, I figure he really doesn’t get to say anything about how I diaper.  Plus I know he will not be complaining when he sees what we save.  For sixteen months we fell into the typical traps of living on an island, where you don’t get a lot of choices for bargain shopping.  Most parents have their diapers shipped.  Of course, it takes a little planning.  I found myself doing that occasionally, but for the most part was forever running to the store to grab “a few more.”  Buying diapers in that way is probably the most expensive way to do it.  And yet it’s easy to fall into that trap.

In truth, while I appreciate green thinking, I can also be kind of selfish when it comes to my time.  My main impetus for switching to cloth was not altruism so much as a selfish need to simplify my life.  I was tired of the last minute runs at 7 a.m.  I was tired of being a slave to retail, and nauseated by the sight of mounds of non-biodegradable waste we were creating, little innocuous looking snowballs of rolled and taped plastic diapers that were in fact diffusing noxious waste into the air. 

With disposables comes an attitude of massive poo denial.  I never transferred the number twos into the toilet.  I didn’t know to.  I see now, in my research, that I am not alone with this.  That in fact only half of one percent of the waste of the 92 percent that use  disposables winds up in the septic system.  That means it is all going to the landfill.  When you consider that disposable diapers constitute the third largest form of non-biodegradable waste at the landfill, this is a horrifying thought.  It takes over two hundred and fifty years for one diaper to decompose.

It is too taboo to talk about poo.  We just don’t want to go there, and shine a light on this most base aspect of our human existence.  But by not talking about it and raising consciousness about it, we are doing our earth, and our children’s earth, a serious injustice.   Yes, that’s right.  I’m getting up on a poo-destal about it. 

As parents, we have a responsibility to properly dispose of our prince and princess’s poos.  There’s not really anyway to get around it.  Poo is just part of the process.  If you’re going to become a parent, you’re going to have to make do with poo.  Either you deal with it up front and flush it, like you’re supposed to, or you let it vaporize into the air you breathe from the diaper pail and soil the landfill. 

There’s the devil you know and the devil you don’t know.  The devil you don’t know is pretty darned disgusting.  It’s taken me sixteen months of disposable diapering to finally see the light and make friends with the devil I know.  Yes, I may be investing more in hand lotions and nail brushes, but in the end, the devil I know is the cleaner way to go.  Really, have you ever asked yourself what would happen if we adults all started throwing our human waste into the trash, along with that of our children, rather than burying it in our septic systems?  We would be mounting an environmental catastrophe.  We would be Haiti.  And with the improper disposal of our children’s waste alone, that is what we are fast on our way to becoming.     

Now that we have gotten it out in the open that no matter how you package it, whether you use disposable or cloth, every mom and dad of a little one has a poo problem, the leap to cloth becomes a baby step.

Please stay tuned for more blogging about my adventures in cloth.

Here are some interesting blogs with useful facts and information on cloth versus disposable diapering.


At Heart said...

I just got a chance to read this. Thanks for linking to my blog! It is a little scary to think that most people refuse (or don't know to) flush. Living on a tiny island, it's even scarier since we have such a small space for waste disposal. I can't wait to hear more about how you like cloth!

Rachel said...

I'm glad you found it, Amber!
I'm so happy to link to your blog. You gave me a big push in the right direction in my decision to switch to cloth.

laurabeth1976 said...

You make some interesting points. I get most of what I need for my little one at Berlington Coat Factory. I have found it is a great way to save money while making my life much easier.