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Thursday, June 12, 2014

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Our Disposable Lives

If I’m being totally honest, when I was pregnant and tallying up our new costs, I was first drawn to cloth diapering because I’d be saving money. It was a nice bonus that I was saving the environment, too. I liked that they could be reused for multiple children, that my kid’s poop won’t leech into the ground water after sitting in a landfill, and that I wasn’t encouraging a highly wasteful and chemical-laden manufacturing-to-dumpster process. As I began to use cloth diapers and wipes, I became more aware of diapers that use sustainable and organically farmed options. I love to use organic inserts in my flip covers as well as flats and doublers by sustainablebabyish. I’m a huge fan of sustainablebabyish’s commitment to planting a tree for every diaper purchased.

I thought I was super crunchy before having Little B – I mean, I joined a community supported agriculture farm! I vote for people who care about the environment! I use eco-friendly shampoo! I shop (mostly) local! I MAKE MY OWN BREAD! Huge hippie here, right? But the more I became involved in the cloth diapering community, the more my eyes are open to how much waste we generate as a family and how easy it is to do so in our modern, disposable society. But I also learned so many ideas on how we could reduce this waste and how, like cloth diapering, it really is little (or no) extra work and often saves us money (that I can use to fuel my cloth diaper addiction! Everyone wins!) I’m trying to look beyond just using “green” disposable products and really taking the extra step to reduce waste.

As Earth Day approaches I decided to take some small steps towards reducing our carbon footprint as a family:

  1. I have purchased a handful of adorable, easy to wash food storage bags from Planet Wise for use both in lunchboxes and in the fridge.  Adding up how much we pay for zip-top baggies (1 box at $3/2 months for sandwich sized), a small set of bags will have paid for itself by this time next year (provided it’s not my new addiction). 
  2. I use green(er) detergent for my cloth diapers – why the heck not for the rest of my clothes?  There are so many great detergents available and while they are a little more expensive, they are a lot better for your clothes so you may even find savings from less wear & tear on your clothing.
  3. I have made a commitment to myself to take the plunge in using mama cloth and a menstrual cup – I’m still breastfeeding Little B so that one will have to wait a few months.  I had considered it for a number of years before getting pregnant and with the availability of a number of super cute products, there really is no excuse not to!  I will be saving hundreds of dollars within the first year and doing my body a huge favor.
  4. I am going to start using the bulk bins at my co-op more. Why pay for packaging of pasta, rice, flour, olive oil, honey, or granola (told you I was crunchy) just to throw it away? I already have baggies and glass or plastic jars in my pantry that I can re-use for this. 
  5. I will stop using paper towels like they are going out of style.  I have pulled my cloth napkins out of storage and am using them again.  That should save me close to $200 in a year and a whole lotta trees. I may even try my hand at making unpaper towels.
In what ways has using cloth diapers opened your eyes to living a greener life? What are some ways your family can commit to reducing their carbon footprint this year?

Bio: Leah is a full-time molecular biologist, partner to John and mommy to Little B & her 3 furbabies. She’s a headstrong Minnesotan woman who loves to cook, craft and cloth diaper.

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1 comment:

Amy said...

I considered the unpaper towels, then we saw a large pack of microfiber towels at Sam's Club and figured we'd try them instead. I roll them up, one on top of the next, and put it on the paper towel holder like that.

I have had to strip them once, but I think it's just part of the learning curve. We haven't used them enough to pay for themselves yet, but we're getting close!