Initiation into the parenting club comes with all sorts of perks and benefits. But the one I could surely do without is the heated debate about cloth vs disposable diapers. Mostly because it seems to consistently miss one important perspective from the conversation.
And it’s this – Use Both.
It’s that simple.
I wonder why don’t we talk about this option. Why do we force ourselves into extremes?
It’s true they both have benefits. You can’t argue with the convenience of disposables. After all, that’s why they were invented, right?
You also can’t argue (though people try) with the environmental and financial advantages of cloth. It’s cheaper and there’s vastly less waste, end of story.
So how about using cloth diapers WHEN YOU CAN. Like at home, or on Saturday mornings when you have the energy, or in the summer when you’re home from work, or when your mom comes over on Tuesdays.
And use disposables (hopefully eco-friendly biodegradable ones) when you need to. Like at night when you’re desperate for sleep, or when you’re traveling and can’t bear the thought of lugging around a wet bag on a plane, or when your child is at daycare, etc.
Even if you used one cloth diaper a week you would save yourself a bit of money but still reduce 52 diapers/year from a landfill. Small changes can have a big impact.
But most of all you would be giving yourself a huge gift.
[“What could that be,” I hear you asking.]
The gift of FREEDOM and FLEXIBILITY. The gift of not being locked in to a rigid mentality. The gift of evolving and finding your own balance.
Cause we all need a bit more of that as parents, right?
A good friend of mine recently told me something that made me feel sad. She said that she used to care so much about the environment but that now as a parent, she just couldn’t muster the energy to do anything much about it anymore. She was so overwhelmed with parenting and keeping up with bills and work, she just relegated it as someone else’s problem to solve.
THAT’S OK. Life is hard, and as parents we all struggle to keep it together. I don’t judge my friend her emotions. However I also think it’s important to not let the demands of life carry us away from our VALUES. If you care about the environment but don’t know how to engage in cloth diapers in a manageable way, then let yourself start small. Be a “part-timer” as my friend so cleverly put it. Acknowledging your limitations is mature wise behaviour and honours the fact that you DO care but don’t necessarily know how to move into action. Once you acknowledge this, you can take a few minutes to brainstorm some small ways you can still express those values. Maybe it’s using one cloth diaper a week, maybe it’s using one a year! It doesn’t really matter. What matters is being honest that our actions matter. They become our legacy and they lay the path to our future.
So the next time you see an article about the inevitable cloth vs. disposable debate, take comfort in knowing that there is a way out. It’s the way of moderation. Using a bit of both, finding your own balance, and doing your best with the resources and knowledge you have.
Remember, every day is Earth Day, so happy Earth Day!