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Sustainability

Journey to a Disposable Free Household

Welcome to the First Annual Freedom of Cloth Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the Freedom of Cloth Carnival hosted at Natural Parents Network by Melissa of The New Mommy Files and Shannon of The Artful Mama. This year’s carnival will run from Sunday, July 3rd through Saturday, July 9th. Participants are sharing everything they know and love about cloth diapering, including how cloth has inspired them.

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Photo Credit: Ray King
Used by Creative Commons License

I have been on a journey to be kinder and gentler to the environment since long before my daughter was born, but her birth and the decision to cloth diaper definitely gave me the extra push I needed to take that journey more seriously. I knew from the start that I would use cloth in combination with elimination communication, but as I researched my options and learned how easy it was to use cloth, I took things a bit further.

Using cloth caused me to think more about other single-use items in our home and I have slowly been replacing these with options we can use again and again. The most obvious switch was from disposable to cloth napkins, but later we moved away from our use of paper towels for cleaning. I was surprised to see how easy it was to use cotton cloths in their stead, even for things like mirrors and windows. Making one small change at a time has made the switch to cloth for all of our household needs an easy one. My most recent change has been away from disposable feminine products and it was quite easy thanks to my “Keeper Cup.”
As I gave more thought to the products I was using to wash our diapers, I also began to examine all of our household cleaning products and that has been instrumental in my switch to a chemical-free household. Not only is this safer for my family, but it has me buying fewer products in disposable containers. We do use a large amount of vinegar that comes in plastic gallon jugs, so my current eco conundrum is how to reduce those. The change in our choice of cleaning products in turn made me look at the products I use for my own self care: shampoos, soaps, and other cosmetics. I have slowly made changes in this area as well, switching to products that don’t contain harsh chemicals and that use less packaging and disposable containers.
By no means am I perfect, and I’m sure that my family is not making all of the “right” choices, but the point is – we’re thinking about it, and we’re making changes one at a time as we see a need. Cloth diapering has been a giant stepping stone in our journey toward awareness and conscious, mindful living in our environment. 

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freedom of cloth carnivalVisit
Natural Parents Network
for the most up-to-date news on the Freedom of Cloth Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants on the following themes. Articles will go live on the scheduled theme day:

  • Sunday, July 3rd, 2011: Cloth Related Recipes — Writers share their best cloth-related recipes and tutorials.
  • Monday, July 4th, 2011: Choosing Your Cloth Style — Today’s posts discuss parents’ individual journeys to finding the cloth diapering “style” that best suits their families.
  • Tuesday, July 5th, 2011: Cloth Diapering Must Haves — Parents talk about the most important items in their diapering “stash” and why they love them.
  • Wednesday, July 6th, 2011: Wordless Wednesday, Inspired by Cloth — We asked parents to share their favorite cloth-related photo with us and turned them into a fluffy Wordless Wednesday photo montage on Natural Parents Network. Link up your own Wordless Wednesday post there!
  • Thursday, July 7th, 2011: Cloth Through the Stages: From Infancy to Potty Independence — Today’s participants explain how cloth diapering has served their families throughout one or more stages of their children’s lives.
  • Friday, July 8th, 2011: Cloth Troubleshooting and Laundry Day — Seasoned cloth diapering parents share their best tips and tricks for handling common cloth problems and tackling the diaper laundry.
  • Saturday, July 9th, 2011: Inspired by Cloth — For today’s theme, we’ve asked writers to explore the ways cloth diapering has inspired them to become “greener” overall.

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.
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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.

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