Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cloth Diaper Saga: Day One Summary

As some of you may know (but you probably don't), we made the switch to cloth diapers this week. I know some of you are shaking your heads and asking, "Why on earth would you want to do that?" Allow me to be honest (because what else is a blog for other than to tell your deepest, darkest secrets through the anonymity of the interwebs?). I am sort of a crunchy. "Crunchy?" some of you are asking, "What the heck is a crunchy??? Is she a breakfast cereal? An autumn leaf? Bacon?" As amazing as the experience would be, bacon I am not. A crunchy is a hip, new term for an environmentalist. One who has "gone green," so to speak. I admit it: I recycle pretty much everything that is recyclable. I got a small thrill when I realized that my WalMart and Kroger both put up bag return boxes. I drive a Hyundai because it gets great gas mileage (and, admittedly, because I had severely limited options at the dealership I bought it from, and it was the best-looking car on the lot). I've bought some of those eco totes and have even taken them with me to the mall on occassion. Please don't think I'm some hippy-dippy "trees are people too" fruitcake. It's more like this: In Genesis 1, God told man to rule over the earth and take care of it and its creatures. He only gave us one planet, and it's disrespect to Him to treat it like a garbage heap. Thus, I do what little I can to help take care of it: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I'm not a nut. I don't condemn people for not recycling, and I'm not a vegan or anything like that. I understand that some people don't have recycling facilities in their area and for them to drive far enough to get to one would be a bigger waste in fuel than it would be a gain in reusable goods. I figure that if God told Peter to "rise up and eat," that He also meant, "Go ahead and have a cheeseburger, Hannah." Maybe this is a "stonger/weaker brother" issue, and I am the weaker brother. Some people feel morally compelled to never take a drink of alcohol; others feel okay with exercising their Christian liberty to have an occassional glass of wine with dinner or go out once in a while with some friends and have a margarita (emphasis on A - the Bible clearly warns against drinking to excess). Whatever. Some people think that Christians = Republicans = Big Businessmen = Cut down all of the trees, destroy the rainforests and make more money because God wants us to have the desires of our hearts and I desire a Lambourghini. Some people think Christians should be vegans because God told us to take care of the earth and the animals and that means that we have no business using them for food, whether it means we kill them or cage them, because animals have basic civil rights, just like people. Then there's me: I think Christians should take some environmental responsibility, but I also think Al Gore is full of crap and that Earth has been running through cycles of global warming and cooling for millenia. It's just the way things work. The hole in the O-zone is on the mend, it's been an unusually cool June in the hometowns of several people I know, and, if anything, California's wildfires could use that giant glacial-melting tidal wave that's allegedly been coming for decades. Anyways, you asked a question (why?) and I still haven't answered it (sorry about the soap box, but I think that's really the only other reason to keep a blog). I actually have two answers to your question, "Why on earth would you want to do that?" #1. Disposable diapers aren't biodegradable. They sit in landfills and rot, which is both a waste of valuable space and not good for the land/water that they are sitting in or the plants and animals that live nearby. I personally feel that I'm being a poor steward of the Earth God has charged us to care for. #2. Disposable diapers are expensive and wasteful. I pay something like a quarter a piece for them, and then I throw them away. At the end of the day, I've literally thrown two dollars or more in the garbage, which is poor stewardship of my financial resources. Think of what you could do with an extra $15 a week (Brendan and I could go see a dollar movie and get coffee afterwards). Now that we've switched to cloth, we can do that.

I've been doing research about it for a couple of months now, comparing types and brands and prices online, trying to find the best deal in terms of quality, ease-of-use, and overall value. Up until about two weeks ago, I had thought we were going to go with It's this fabulous place where you can save money on all-in-one (AIO) diapers (basically, they look and work just like disposables, but they've got a vinyl coating and are machine washable) by buying kits from them and sewing the diapers together yourself. They send you the elastic, fabric, liners, velcro/snaps in whatever colors you choose, and you can pay as little as $6 a piece for the convenience of AIOs. "Six dollars a diaper!?!!?" some of you are screaming. "But I can buy a package of 40 Target brand diapers for $7!!!" Well, this much is true, but you will have to keep buying Target brand diapers over and over and over until your kid is two (or older, if you end up potty training at two and a half or three). That adds up. Let's say a 40-pack lasts you about five days (which is probably being generous, if you're changing every two hours during your kid's waking moments, or if you have a newborn). Seven dollars a week for two years at 52 weeks in a year comes out to ...[getting a calculator to figure the sum]... $728, and that's not including tax or kids like mine that sometimes like to pee in the diaper as you are fastening it, causing you to use two in one go. Let's say I go through about 12 cloth diapers in two days and plan to wash them every other day. Six dollars times 12 diapers is $72. Let's say tax and shipping come out to an astronomical $35, and you're still looking at a mere $107. (Hooray for not using a calculator on that one! Although, chances are, this means that number is incorrect.) That's a pretty excellent deal, no? Then, about two weeks ago, I learned something that made me feel a little happy and a little sad all at once. I learned that Gerber actually makes cloth diapering supplies that can be bought at WalMart for about $23 a dozen (including the vinyl covers, diaper pins, and 5% VA sales tax - I'm going to miss 5% sales tax when I move back to PA). Obviously, this makes me happy because 23 is a significantly smaller number than 107. However, this also makes me just a little sad for two, admittedly-silly, reasons: #1. I wasted however much time choosing colors and patterns and budgeting an extra $107. #2. I was really looking forward to the convenience of an AIO diaper ... which brings us to what today's headline promised: The Day One Summary of the Allison Family Cloth Diaper Saga.

So far, this whole thing has been surprisingly easier than I expected. I actually picked up seven extra diapers at a consignment shop/baby boutique down here for a mere $8 last weekend, so I have enough diapers to last me three days now (we're still using disposables at night because our kid is a urinating machine. She just started sleeping the whole way through the night about ten or twelve days ago, and I am not about to ruin my full eight hours of slumber by changing up to three wet diapers each night), so I haven't had the joy of washing them yet to see how clean they come out (I do have a lovely laundry basket filled with "skid marked" diapers waiting to be tested that are cracking me up in the meantime, though). However, I have learned a few things:
#1. While AIOs are more convenient (I assume), using the flat-folds and covers only adds maybe one minute to diaper changing time.
#2. My laughably thin baby looks more than a little humorous with a giant faux ghetto booty. Seriously, it's like an olive on a toothpick.
#3. I should buy a second diaper pail because most of my house is starting to smell like ... well, you know.
#4. There is no feeling more undignified than that of dumping someone else's poo into your toilet.
#5. While rinsing and wringing the diapers before putting them in the laundry is a great way to control the smell/stain factor, it wreaks havoc on your sinks and may get poop on your hand.
#6. A baby washcloth folded in half can make a great added layer for naptime diapering.
#7. Gerber diapers don't hold as much as the thicker ones I bought at the boutique, and I'd be interested in purchasing some more of those (or trying a few AIOs that my friend Brittany is making).
#8. Vaseline is more expensive than I expected (you can't use diaper rash cream with cloth diapers).

I think that's about it. I'll keep you posted on how this whole thing progresses, but suffice it to say, this is far less gross, smelly, and time-consuming than I expected. Of course, I haven't been at this for very long, so I may change my tune in just a few days. I think it's a lasting decision though. It's more than worth the inconvenience when you think of all the money you can save (especially since Scout will hopefully be the first of five offspring) and the feeling you get from being a good steward of the resources God has blessed you with.

Well, speaking of diapers, I hear a baby waking up from her nap, and I'm guessing I should go change one! Have a great day, all!