Tom is a National Parks buff, and whenever we go to a place maintained by the Park Service we always see the signs that say “Take out what you bring in,” or some variation on “Leave the park as you found it.”
How does this relate to our decision to use cloth diapers? We consider ourselves environmentally conscious (with the exception of the nightmarish carbon footprint we leave by traveling so often), but what got us over the “Eeeeew, baby poo in my washer/dryer?!” hump was the savings. Startup with our preferred cloth diapers, which are among the more expensive on the market, is still only about $500-$600. We plan to have two children, so we don’t have to buy them twice–perhaps just buy a few more if they’re both in diapers at the same time, so maybe $700 total. Compared to $2000+ for disposables PER child, it’s a no-brainer. But as for environmental impact affecting our decision, this paragraph from Cotton Babies’ (where I have ordered all my cloth diapers so far, in budget-manageable six packs*) website says it all for us on their cloth vs. disposable options:
“Based on a report from the Women’s Environmental Network, The Real Diaper Association reports:
* Disposable diapers are the third most common consumer product in landfills today.
* A disposable diaper may take up to 500 years to decompose.
* One baby in disposable diapers will contribute at least 1 ton of waste to your local landfill.
Landfill issues are very important. This is a very interesting dilemma facing in Hawaii right now as many of their landfills are either closing or set to close very soon. This article is one of many that discusses this issue. Honolulu has one landfill remaining. Kauai’s only landfill will reach capacity in 2009. Hawaii is running out of places to put its trash.”
We aren’t going to be in Hawaii forever. It’s a tiny, beautiful place. We’d have done cloth anyway, most likely, but this is even more reason to do our small part to help out. As much as we can, being consumptive humans and all that, we’d like to leave Hawaii like we found it and try not to leave 2000+ pounds of baby bottom-related garbage in our wake.
*Yes, I do see the irony in ordering diapers made of cotton, a major source of pesticide and pollution, from a retailer based on the mainland, which then have to be shipped out here in some sort of exhaust-producing means of conveyance. There is no way to bring a child into the world without making SOME kind of environmental impact, and on this one our biological instinct to procreate won out. Well, my biological instinct and Tom’s desire to share the lifetime of suffering of a Philadelphia Phillies fan with a child won out.