Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Raising a Green Baby…

I honestly didn’t see it coming. After all, Vicky and I have been priding ourselves in growing more aware of our impact on the environment. Vicky’s going to buy a car with better mileage early next year. We’re drastically reducing our consumption of plastic. We’re eating less meat. We’re eliminating high fructose corn syrup from our diets. We’re buying food that’s less processed and more organic from more local sources. We’re trying to “buy local” for all things. I even found greener hiking boots, made in the US, over the Internet. (Patagonia.com has a retailer in Corona, not far from here. When I’m ready to buy, that’s where I’ll go.)

So, how did it happen?

Vicky and I were in Target, looking at baby things. Vicky’s back on the “baby bandwagon”. At least, I’m guessing the computer program she has to tell her when she’s… um… ready has more to do with her wanting a baby so badly and not just so she won’t have to … nah, that’s can’t be it…

Anyway, we’re standing there and I hear Vicky telling me she doesn’t want to do the whole “green thing” for our child. For our child! But who else are we doing all the rest for? It’s not for us that we’re doing it; if the world goes to hell after we die, it wouldn’t bother our corpses much – hell, we might as well join the Republican party and be done with it! You can probably guess that I got a little mad, especially when Vicky’s strongest argument was that people who can’t buy lead-painted, pollution-making crap that has to be shipped all the way from China will buy fewer gifts. To hear this kind of argument from Vicky was actually painful on my ears.

So, I stormed off and left her to do the shopping while I cooled it a little.

When I found her again, she said, “Before you say anything…” But she married me. Of course, I spoke!

I said, “I don’t want to give up trying to be a good person once we have a baby because it’s too inconvenient. If your friends think we’re nuts because we’re trying to make the world a better place for our child, that’s fine by me.” About then was when the words, “Before you say anything”, pierced my epidermis.

Irritated by my inability to shut up, Vicky said that I was right and that she knew we’d have to keep trying to be good citizens of the earth once we had a baby. She was just worried that it was going to be so difficult to do, and so expensive. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure how expensive it would be. Faced with a situation like that, I perform research! I told Vicky I’d look into it and I figured I might as well share the results of my research with you.

Welcome to the beginning of Project Green Baby! Every so often, I’ll post a new find, some new product that I’ve found to help your baby – and you – be a bit greener.

I figured I’d begin this week with the basics… Poop.

America deposits over 25 million disposable diapers in its landfills every year (some claim that number goes as high as 18 billion) and each one takes about 500 years to decompose. You want to do the math on that for me – it’s a shitload of diapers! About 6,000 for each baby, over two tons of waste! Worse, that crap gets into water tables, into the food chain, and into us. And it’s not just diaper dung but the synthetics the diapers are made from, such as sodium polyacrylate, which is also bad for the baby.

What to do?

Well, there’s always the cloth alternative. Over the time a child is in diapers, cloth is actually cheaper than disposable. And it’s ubiquitous, there are cloth diaper services all over the place. Also, research has shown that baby’s raised on cloth diapers get potty-trained earlier and experience fewer instances of diaper rash and other such afflictions. But cloth diapers won’t exactly go over well when someone else has to change the kid, such as at day care or ANYWHERE!

Okay, okay. What to do?

I’ve found two green alternatives that I rather like. Let’s start with gDiapers. These are built in two layers. First, the inner layer does all the absorbing work – this is actually flushable and will biodegrade in water. The outer layer holds everything in place and is reusable. This looks like the best of both worlds. Also, you can buy them at Whole Foods/Wild Oats/Henry’s! I won’t lie to you; it is a bit more expensive than traditional disposables. At about $.40 each, it’s a bit more but it’s worth it in so many ways.

The down side is… part of it is made in China. I gotta be honest; I’m not too keen on this. But, considering that it’s the outer layer made in China, and you’ll only be buying a few of these rather than 6,000 or so, I think that’s still a far better option.

What’s option two, then? Communication. More and more studies are coming out about learning to speak with your baby before they can… well, before they can speak. Infant Sign Language is proving to be extremely helpful, especially when it comes to potty training. Apparently, being able to tell you they want to go potty is extremely empowering to kids. So, Vicky and I are going to do some seriously looking into learning a second language: sign.

Obviously, no single answer is going to solve every problem. We have to think big picture on this. But I think that using gDiapers along with cloth, and teaching our child Infant Sign Language – along with judicial use of disposable when it’s really necessary – will help us raise a healthier child in a healthier world.

I think if we’re committed, it’s going to be very possible.

1 comment:

solje said...

hmmm the gdiapers seem like a good product. Now, if they can just do this with women's pads... that'd be even less in the landfill :-) (and no, I am not going back to the olden days once a month... it's bad enough as it is--sorry to be so gross).

It is hard to find ANYTHING for babies or kids that is locally (or even nationally) created. I am a huge advocate for buying local and get annoyed with every product recall that pops up.

But I think just doing the little things that you can live with help. Sometimes compromising is the answer--until you find something like gdiapers.