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Be Green

Service with a Smile

Think about it, a mere two generations ago cloth diapering was the norm. How far have we come and why?

The cloth v/s disposable debate
For years, pro-cloth folks have argued that cotton/hemp/bamboo diapers are way better for the environment than their disposable counterparts. For one, they don't end up in landfills, releasing toxic chemicals into groundwater, etc. Disposables take a good 500 years or more to decompose (even the ones sold as biodegradable take a while to break down because of a lack of oxgen in landfills). When you factor in between 5000 to 7000 diapers per baby... it begins to get really freaky.

Now, advocates of disposables argue that the energy and water used to wash cotton diapers (and the pesticides used to grow the cotton in case of non-organic raw material) total an environmental cost comparable to throwing all those disposables in the trash. But is this accurate? I'm staying out of it, but here's what your own gorvernment thinks.

Consume Less = Work Less = Live More

I'll interrupt myself at this point to quote Aube Cormier-Beaugrand, the amazing owner of La Loba (which also sells cloth diapers, covers and non-disposable menstrual products), we work as much as we do so as to be able to afford disposable things (this includes one-season trend fashions, the latest gadget, etc). She encourages her clients, especially mothers, to consider this simple equation:
Consume Less = Work Less = Live More

When you consider that the average baby will cost about $2500 in diapers and a cotton diaper kit will cost anywhere between $300 and $500 (unless you get a hand-me-down or second-hand kit which would be even cheaper), it kinda begins to click. But what about all the time we save by just throwing stuff out instead of washing it? Aube recommends looking at laundry time differently--you can incorporate your family into the process (handwash stuff communally in the bathtub while telling stories or singing songs. That way it's not time wasted--it's time you can spend with your family instead of at the office working to make money to buy things to throw out.
(phew!)

But EWWW!
Let's face it, we North Americans are less than comfortable with our own waste. If the idea of scraping poo off a diaper and leaving it to soak in tea tree oil makes you want to run your fingernails down a chalkboard, take heart.
For the same cost as using disposables, you can use a diaper service like the one featured in my piece. Check out Baby Auric, or Maman Ecolo ( in Mascouche (450) 474-3550). It's certainly more expensive to use a service than to wash your own, but it does bring down the "eww" factor.

Any takers?

I'd love to see pictures of your babies--and your anecdotess on how you chose a diapering system for them. Do you use disposables or cloth. Or a service? Would you consider switching? What has your experience been? I'd also love to hear from women like me who don't have kids yet, but may be considering it.
Send pictures to : geeta.nadkarni@cbc.ca

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Comments (3)

Nicolas

Dorval

Way to go Sofia and her parents !

Posted March 13, 2008 01:37 PM

Gina

Montreal

Hi Geeta,
I was glad to see your spot on cloth diapering a few nights ago, but I would
have liked to have seen something on the variety of cloth diapers available.
I am a mother of three-month-old twin girls and I cloth diaper, but I don't
use a service. I use pre-fitted cotton diapers that snap up and are as easy
as disposables that way. Because of the volume of diapers I have, I justify
a small load of laundry every night (and I know this is not so good
environmentally), so a parent of one would only need to wash every other
day, or less if more diapers were on hand. I use the Kissaluv brand diapers
(made of unbleached cotton) and the Bummis diaper covers, and am going to
conduct a trial run of the BumGenius all-in-one diaper when I go to get my
next batch. The pre-fitted ones cost considerably more than the classic
folded diapers, but it all works out if you consider it against the cost of
a diaper service. For me the convenience makes it worth it. I thought I'd
write you about this since a lot of my friends are surprised to know that
cloth diapers have advanced so much over the past decade. My mother is
envious of my deluxe snap-up diapers since she raised my brother and I on
flat cloth diapers and safety pins.

I hope to see more on environmentally friendly parenting since so many
people feel that having babies warrants a massive carbon footprint. Babies
definitely increase one's use of resources but it really is possible to
adhere to one's ecologically-friendly principles for the most part. I have
tried to do my part by accepting a lot of hand-me-down clothes and other
gear from my cousin, and because I don't have a license we make use of cars
very rarely. The girls get walked almost everywhere, although the lack of
snow clearing has sometimes made that difficult; but this is a topic for
another news segment. Thank goodness for supermarkets that deliver in
Montreal.

Keep up the great work!

Gina

Posted March 14, 2008 10:31 AM

Judy Frederick

Pointe_Claire

If I wanted to make the diapers myself, where would I find a pattern, and what about the fabric, what fabric and where could I get it?

Thank you

Posted January 19, 2009 08:45 PM

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