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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

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Cloth Diapers: The Gateway to a Greener Life

When I first got pregnant, I started considering using cloth diapers. And what was my main reason for doing it? The money. (Little did I know I would become so obsessed with them that I would end up spending way more than I thought I would!) Yes, I was going to cloth diaper to save money. I hadn’t really heard about the dangerous chemicals in disposables yet, and the thought of saving the environment was just a bonus.

Before I got pregnant, I didn’t really care about what I surrounded myself with, or what I put into my body. Diet Coke with aspartame? Sure. Harsh chemical cleaners? Why not. MSG, pesticides, bleach? Who cares.

Boy, have I changed my tune.

Once I became pregnant, it’s like a switch flipped. Now, I was more concerned than ever about the chemicals that could enter my body and affect my baby. I read reports about BPA, dioxin, and other things found all around us that could potentially harm my little one. So, I started down the road of becoming greener. And it all started with cloth diapers.

Since becoming involved in the cloth diapering community, here are the top 5 ways I’ve gone green:

  • Cleaning: Vinegar is my best friend now. I use it in the laundry, in the kitchen, in the bathrooms – pretty much everywhere. No more harsh chemicals are kept in our house, which will make it very easy for me to baby-proof the home when my little one starts walking.
  • Cloth Wipes: At first, I started with disposable wipes and my cloth diapers. While I still use them occasionally, I’ve found that cloth wipes are FANTASTIC. Just keep a little spray bottle of wipe solution in the changing table, and I’m all set. We’ve drastically reduced our dependence on disposable wipes (not to mention the drastic reduction on our wallets).
  • Eating: Yes, I’m still a junk food addict. Yes, I’ll still have an occasional piece of sugar-free gum. But when it comes to my kiddo, it’s organic, locally-sourced produce. I’m really loving making my own baby food – it comforts me to know exactly what my baby’s eating. And there’s no extra waste from jars or cans…just me and my blender.
  • Shopping: If you ever see me out shopping, you’ll inevitably see me with my collection of shopping totes. These things are great – they hold so much more, have nice strong straps, and best of all, they don’t end up in landfills for centuries. So long, plastic bags!
  • Beauty: Ok, so admittedly, you’ll pry my MAC lipstick out of my cold, dead hands. But I’ve become much more aware of how the things that make me “beautiful” can also make me sick. So, I’ve tried to reach for the natural, plant-based skincare and beauty products, like chemical-free sunscreen and earth-friendly lip balm.
Now, I’m a realist, and I know that my little steps toward a greener life aren’t going to save the planet on its own. But I like to think that the little things I do will add up over the long run, making the world a little better place for my kids. And to think, it all started with cute, fluffy cloth diapers.

Jennifer S. is a mom of a wonderful baby girl, and one of the loudest cloth diaper advocates on Facebook. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, baby, and cat, and works in Marketing.

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