Elimination Communication and Ecological Sustainability

Welcome to the Earth Day Blog Carnival

This post is part of the Earth Day Blog Carnival hosted by Child of the Nature Isle and Monkey Butt Junction. Each participant has shared their practices and insights of earth friendly, environmentally conscious, eco-living. This carnival is our way to share positive information and inspiration that can create healing for our planet. Please read to the end of this post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Happy Earth Day!

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At ten months, Annabelle had transitioned
to sometimes using the big toilet, especially
at night when emptying and sanitizing a little
potty would be too disruptive to our sleep.

While our choice to practice Elimination Communication was mostly about meeting our daughter’s needs as respectfully and hygienically as possible, the environmental impact of that choice, or rather the lack thereof, is worth noting.

The Real Diaper Association‘s website lists some sobering data that reveals just how much waste goes along with disposable diapering:

“Over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for one baby EACH YEAR.”

 “The manufacture and use of disposable diapers amounts to 2.3 times more water wasted than cloth.”

“Disposable diapers generate sixty times more solid waste and use twenty times more raw materials, like crude oil and wood pulp.”

(See this page for more data and a list of their sources.) 

Aside from the waste, there is the issue of all the chemicals that make their way into our environment as a result of the manufacturing process for disposable diapers, and the large amounts of human waste being deposited in landfills instead of the sewer system. Knowing this, the choice to avoid disposable diapers was an easy one for us to make. Clearly, cloth was a better choice for the environment as well as for our daughter’s health, so like many families, we decided early on to avoid disposable diapers. 
Still, non-renewable resources are used not only in manufacturing, but also in the regular use of cloth diapers. Even the more energy efficient front loading washing machines use about 20-25 gallons of water to clean one load of laundry. While this is a huge improvement on the 40 or so gallons consumed by your average top loading machine, it’s still significant. Add to that the energy required to run the machine, the detergent and the plastic containers it comes in, and the energy needed to dry cloth diapers if you don’t hang them on a line. While it’s far gentler on the earth than disposable diapers, cloth diapering still has a considerable environmental impact.
By practicing elimination communication instead of using cloth diapers full time, we significantly reduce the number of washes required to keep our daughter clean and dry. We also minimize wear and tear on the diapers we do have which means that they can easily be used for future children, and maybe even passed on to another family after we’re finished. Elimination communication also makes our daughter more aware of her own bodily functions, which should lead to earlier potty independence and an overall shortened duration of time in diapers. Practicing EC is just one way that our family has found to minimize our impact on the environment. 
Sources:
http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php

For more info on elimination communication:
Intro to EC Part 1: Philosophy at the Natural Parents Network
Intro to EC Part 2: Practice at the Natural Parents Network

For more on our journey with EC:
How We EC
On the Move (An Update at 4 Months)
EC Update – 4.5 Months
Traveling With Fluff
EC Update (at 6.5 Months)
EC Update – 9.5 Months

What are some of the things your family does to minimize your environmental impact? I would love to learn from you!

________________________________________Earth Day Blog Carnival - Child of the Nature Isle and Monkey Butt Junction

Visit Monkey Butt Junction and Child of the Nature Isle to read all about the Earth Day Blog Carnival.
***
Going Green in 2011 – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses the way she and her family are going “greener” in 2011.
Our Greatest Teacher – Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro shares her experiences with her children and nature, their greatest teacher.
Dreaming of Spring Gardening – Erin of the Waterloons talks about the ultimate in local food, her backyard garden.
Earth Conscious Minimalism – Nada at miniMOMist thinks minimalism can help you save the world — as long as you don’t just toss everything in the trash! Check out Her list of places to donate (bet you haven’t thought of them all!).
Blessings to the Earth – Amy at Anktangle believes that a simple act, such as being intentionally grateful for our food, is just the catalyst we need to bring about large-scale change.
Eight Movies to Inspire Change – Mrs Green at Little Green Blog shares her top 8 movies that have inspired her to take action to make the world a better place. She’d love to hear your suggestions to add to her viewing list!
Can I Have a Green Period Too? Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the environmental impact of switching to sustainable menstrual products, along with offering a great Mama Cloth giveaway for anyone interested in making the switch (and for those who already have and want to increase their stash!).
An Eden to Call Our Own – Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares how learning to care for the Earth starts in her own garden.
Elimination Communication – Melissa at the New Mommy Files discusses the environmental impact of diapering, and why elimination communication was the best choice for her family.
The Living Earth: A Meditation in Science and Reverence – Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante asks you to pause to wonder at the blessing of the fact that our living planet is here at all.
Earth Day Anthem – Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro created a poem in honor of Mother Earth, women and nurturers everywhere.
The Plasticity of Compromise – Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how she is working to compromise on healthy family living and avoiding plastics whenever possible.

Earth Day Resolutions – Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares why she has decided to make Earth Day resolutions, what those resolutions are, and how they are a step up from her current efforts at green living.
Is it time for you to say “Enough!”? Mrs Green at My Zero Waste asks you to rise up and say ‘Enough!’ on Earth Day.

Homeschooling with the Earth – Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares her desires and dreams for Earth-based learning and the ways her two young children have already started a natural curriculum.
Beyond the Green Sheen – Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction offers some advice on how to avoid greenwashing and make purchasing choices that really have a positive impact.

21 thoughts on “Elimination Communication and Ecological Sustainability

  1. Jennifer Collins

    Your figures of the impact of diapering, even cloth diapering, are pretty sobering. We do cloth diapering and we line dry in the spring, summer and fall, but even so I know we go through a LOT of water. While EC sounds like it takes some considerable effort, the rewards are many. Good for you for doing this, and thanks for the great links on EC too.

    Reply
  2. Nada Sheppard

    We had never heard of EC until long after our daughter was born. If we had known about it then, I think we would have participated in it as well. For now, we are using cloth diapers most of the time (only using disposables for bedtime) and will definitely be going all cloth on the next baby. It is awesome to hear that it worked out so well for you — and your little one sitting on the potty is just too cute!

    Reply
  3. mrs green @littlegreenblog.com

    This is so thought provoking. Like Nada I'd never really heard of it until my DD was all but toilet trained but I can really see how it can create an amazing bond between parents and child – talk about getting your needs met and learning fantastic communication skills.

    Reply
  4. Kelly & Dave

    In all honesty, when I first heard of EC I was pretty scornful of the idea…but that's cause my first reaction is often judgment :p (trying to get over that!). At any rate, it's interesting to see how it's working for so many, and particularly inspiring to see the environmental impact even of cloth diapers – I do think this is something I need to explore more fully!

    Thanks for the awesome Earth Day post :)

    Reply
  5. Kelly & Dave

    In all honesty, when I first heard of EC I was pretty scornful of the idea…but that's cause my first reaction is often judgment :p (trying to get over that!). At any rate, it's interesting to see how it's working for so many, and particularly inspiring to see the environmental impact even of cloth diapers – I do think this is something I need to explore more fully!

    Thanks for the awesome Earth Day post :)

    Reply
  6. Kelly & Dave

    In all honesty, when I first heard of EC I was pretty scornful of the idea…but that's cause my first reaction is often judgment :p (trying to get over that!). At any rate, it's interesting to see how it's working for so many, and particularly inspiring to see the environmental impact even of cloth diapers – I do think this is something I need to explore more fully!

    Thanks for the awesome Earth Day post :)

    Reply
  7. Kelly & Dave

    In all honesty, when I first heard of EC I was pretty scornful of the idea…but that's cause my first reaction is often judgment :p (trying to get over that!). At any rate, it's interesting to see how it's working for so many, and particularly inspiring to see the environmental impact even of cloth diapers – I do think this is something I need to explore more fully!

    Thanks for the awesome Earth Day post :)

    Reply
  8. Kelly & Dave

    In all honesty, when I first heard of EC I was pretty scornful of the idea…but that's cause my first reaction is often judgment :p (trying to get over that!). At any rate, it's interesting to see how it's working for so many, and particularly inspiring to see the environmental impact even of cloth diapers – I do think this is something I need to explore more fully!

    Thanks for the awesome Earth Day post :)

    Reply
  9. Kelly & Dave

    In all honesty, when I first heard of EC I was pretty scornful of the idea…but that's cause my first reaction is often judgment :p (trying to get over that!). At any rate, it's interesting to see how it's working for so many, and particularly inspiring to see the environmental impact even of cloth diapers – I do think this is something I need to explore more fully!

    Thanks for the awesome Earth Day post :)

    Reply
  10. Kelly & Dave

    In all honesty, when I first heard of EC I was pretty scornful of the idea…but that's cause my first reaction is often judgment :p (trying to get over that!). At any rate, it's interesting to see how it's working for so many, and particularly inspiring to see the environmental impact even of cloth diapers – I do think this is something I need to explore more fully!

    Thanks for the awesome Earth Day post :)

    Reply
  11. MJ

    Awesome post. I wish I had known about this when I when my kids were younger. On another note, she is too cute sitting on the potty :).

    Reply
  12. Terri Henry

    Wow – I can't wait to read all your posts on EC! I use cloth diapers and whilst I realise that these are far from perfect, I always felt that EC would be just too much for me to handle! But I always have great admiration and respect for those who do make it work. If we ever decide to add another little being to our family I will give it a go. Thanks for such an informative Earth Day Carnival post!

    Reply
  13. I-RIBBIT

    Great post! I have several friends who are looking into EC and this is definately where I am directing them. I really wish that I had gone this route but after a botched c-section, I was lucky that I stuck with cloth and didn't give up on that. Thank you for such a well written post with lots of good information to share.

    Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama

    Reply
  14. Melissa Kemendo

    We definitely still use way, way too much water – one of the big things I'm working on! I wish I could say I always line dried, too. One thing at a time ;)

    Reply
  15. Melissa Kemendo

    It is really hard not to judge an idea right off, isn't it!? I know that I do it with a lot of things, and it sure doesn't help me or anyone else! I'm working on it as well!

    Reply
  16. I Thought I Knew Mama

    I really admire your commitment to EC! I'm proud that we use cloth, but you really are on a whole other level of not being wasteful with EC!

    Reply
  17. Melissa Kemendo

    Oh, and you should be – using cloth makes a huge difference! I sure hope this didn't read like a "greener than thou" post! I could definitely do much, much more than I do in an effort to live more sustainably.

    Reply
  18. Amy Reiswig

    We've tried our best to do EC, but my son just doesn't let us know when he needs to go. We mostly rely on timing, but are still using many more cloth diapers than we do catch his eliminations. It's so true that EC is a wonderful way to reduce our impact on the environment. I wish I lived in a culture where practicing EC was the norm instead of the exception!

    Reply
  19. jewelsntreasures

    I really wanted to use EC with my older two girls, but they never and I mean never gave us any indication of when they were going. Our youngest is the first to do so! So I have tried a bit here and there with her. I've never thought of it as a way to reduce the environmental impact! Thanks for the reminder! :)

    Reply
  20. Zoie @ TouchstoneZ

    This is a great post for the Earth Day carnival. I don't think a lot of people consider ec for it's environmental aspects. We do ec and cloth diaper. Every single time we don't use a diaper I feel we are doing something positive for the earth. It's not black and white, like I think most people feel about ec. It can be done as often or as little as needed so that baby keeps a connection to their body and parents and child communicate their rhythms. EC is an important part of what our family chooses for the environment as well.

    Reply

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