Thursday, April 30, 2009

Debunking Seventh Generation's "Big Green Lies"

As environmentalists, we look at companies like 7th generations with admiration, right? While we have tried to cut down on paper towel use, or gotten rid of the need altogether, have contemplated family cloth, stopped using harsh chemical cleaners, clothes and dish detergents and OF COURSE stopped using disposable diapers - we look at 7th generation as one of the best alternatives, the people that make the "greenest" versions of those things we try so hard not to use! Well......brace yourself - it appears that they are beginning to act like the "Big" business they are becoming.

In their new set of short shows called "Big Green Lies" - 7th Gen attempts to debunk typical green myths - most recently cloth vs. disposable. You can see the segment here. Way to try and over-simplify things, huh? Did they fail to realize that most of us wash our own diapers and that if you use additive free detergent you don't have to rinse the diapers over and over and over....and you certainly do not have to use bleach or even the clothes dryer for that matter if you like to use the clothesline. There are so many different factors that they completely ignore, yet being who they are and assuming the roll of "green authority" lots of people will just watch this and take it as the end all of answers.

Although their diapers are bleach free and lack many of the harmful chemicals that mainstream diapers contain, they didn't mention that when telling people to stop over-thinking the decision because it was 50/50. They also neglected to talk about how disposables can also lock in body heat, raising the temperature of the scrotum which is being studied as a contributing factor of male infertility.

What it really just boils down to for me and lots of other educated moms who have chosen cloth for their kids is this: In the US, 27.4 billion disposable diapers go into the landfill each year - these diapers are estimated to take between 250 and 500 YEARS to decompose...but we really don't know for sure, do we? There were no disposables diapers around 250 years ago, which means that ALL the disposables that have ever been made are STILL breaking down....somewhere in a huge pile of trash.

Shame on you Seventh Generation.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

So we know opinions about the environment, carbon footprint and green living really run the gammet these days. More than in the past especially, since these thing are more popular subjects and more people are aware of the effects of their lifestyles, people are trying to make better decisions for the future of the planet.

Most of the moms I am friends with are generally more environmentally friendly than the average bear on some level, some more so than others. For example, a new mom friend that I have recently made since moving, is quite the *activist* - she is the person honking at the cars and shouting when she sees young children not in their car seat, she will stop a mom in public to show her how to adjust the her baby's car seat straps or her Ergo or a better/more effective way to tie her Moby. Just recently we got into a great "sandbox" discussion about cloth vs. disposable (we were literally in the sandbox!) Oddly enough, there was one other mom there who was an avid cloth diaperer (we suspected it....and she confirmed later in the conversation.) The other adults were a young lady and her partner - they had a 3 yr old boy still in diapers and an older lady, who we assumed was the grandma - she had a 3-ish yr old little girl who may have been potty trained and another on her back in a very nice sling.

My activist friend very smoothly struck up the conversation as a result of the young mom asking if her daughter was still in diapers and my friend telling her that she had just recently potty trained at around 2.5 yrs. The young mom was very impressed which prompted us to launch into our "Cloth diapered kids potty train earlier speech". I love the questions! "What do you do with the poop?" "Do you have to use bleach?" "Does it make your washing machine stinky?" "Do you really save a lot of money?"

I don't think we convinced her, necessarily, but made her think! The boyfriend ran when he heard the word "WASH" *heeheehee*, but she listened, and the older woman smiled and nodded. Our cloth diapering ally piped in a few times - overall a success!

Just a little food for thought for all you "closet" cloth lovers out there - and those who have yet to come into the light! Especially this being the week we all celebrate Mother Earth and communities try and clean her up a bit. Tell someone about cloth! Tell them how easy it is, how healthy it is for the child and if need be, tell them it really is the hip thing to do! Oh and as always.....Happy Diapering!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cloth diapering on a dime....when money is tight!

Everyone has their own set of reasons for cloth diapering their kiddies, including but not limited to - environmental conservation, cutting back on chemical exposure, vanity and increasingly ever-popular SAVING MONEY!! Over the life of a child, cloth diapering can save thousands upon thousands of dollars, and as many of us can attest to, every penny counts. As a seasoned cloth diapering parent will tell you, there are so many routes one can go when building a cloth diaper stash for either a new baby or as a switchover from disposables. I am going to talk about the most frugal ways that families can cloth diaper on a bare bones budget.

Having many mom and dad friends myself, I can say their personalities and skill sets vary as much as one can imagine and while it would be great to have the skills to sew up your own stash of diapers, many of us just don’t have the time or the sewing experience. For those of us who don’t want to go that route, our best friend in the frugal cloth diapering world would have to be the cotton prefold! They are by far the budget diaperer’s best choice. For around $70 you can have 3 dozen infant size unbleached Indian cotton prefolds which is right around the amount that one would need to successfully diaper a newborn, washing a load of diapers twice a week (give or take of course – as a child gets older the number of diaper you need decreases as a general rule).

Paired with the prefold, one will need some type of cover ranging from wool, to plastic or vinyl – the least expensive being the old fashion Gerber rubber pants that many of our own mothers used diapering us and our siblings (which now have a softer lined leg casing and are chlorine free!) These are a simple pull on style with elastic waist and legs and come in 5 sizes from 8-35 lbs. One step up in my opinion in both ease and cost would be the Prorap wrap style covers with either snap or aplix – they add another element of ease in that they are more like the basic design of disposable diapers where you fasten them on either side with the child laying down without the help of pins or a Snappi to close the prefold since the cover holds it tightly in place when fastened correctly. We recommend having a minimum of 4 covers, depending on your washing preference. When my daughter (now 2) was a small infant I got along fine with 3-4 covers which I rotated hanging on a hook over my changing table (we didn’t go out much). When one either became soiled or very smelly, I would take it into the bathroom and wash it out in the sink with a tiny squirt of soap, wring it out in a hand towel and hang it over my shower to dry. Simple as that – if it was very dirty I might let it soak or even throw it in the diaper pail with the prefolds to go in the washer. Of course the more covers you have, the less you wash – many people like having 6-8 covers allowing them to be washed right in with the prefolds every time.

Other add-ons that are helpful, but not required:
• A small water resistant bag for outings (or you can use a grocery bag, but these are so cute!)
Wipe solution and flannel/fleece squares (this will save a ton of money in the long run)
• Washable liner bags for the pail (I recommend 2, one in the wash, one in the pail)
• Some type of doubler (micro fiber is usually sufficient for a smaller child, while something more absorbent like hemp or bamboo is better for older children or heavy wetters). I would use the doublers for night diapering or if I was taking a longer car ride and hoped the baby would sleep the whole way without wetting through the clothes onto the car seat cover :)

We have some ready made systems available that make this whole process effortless. Our basic MCDC infant, baby and toddler packages include the prefolds, covers, wipes, solution and bag. We also have an ultra basic preemie package which is simply the preemie prefolds and the preemie covers. Lastly we have the mother of all packages which will take you from birth to potty training - our MCDC Complete package. Of course these are all customizable and we encourage you to contact us if you would like to build your own package or have questions or concerns.

Oh and as always…happy diapering!