Like many people facing parenthood, d.w. and I have spent months mulling over the various financial and environmental costs of diapering, given the estimated 6,000 diaper changes we face over the next couple of years. We immediately dismissed disposable diapers as an option, because the environmental cost is simply too great. While their post-consumer environmental impact isn't as great an issue for us (because garbage goes to our town's power plant for electricity generation — I know, it surprised me to hear that too), I just hate the idea of using petroleum-based plastics unnecessarily. We thought about the happier Seventh Generation ones, but that would probably leave us with the financial choice of paying for either diapers or heat. In an Iowa winter, I have a feeling I'd vote for heat.
And besides, they all (Seventh Generation notably excepted) have those goddamn cutesy TV cartoon characters all over them. I mean really, how early does branding need to begin? I would rather be mauled by a pack of ravenous chipmunks than hear the words, "Hey, look at my Dora the Explorer(R) ultrasound pictures! I'm so excited about my Disney(R) baby, brought to you by Barbie(R)!"
And they reek. We bought a pack of newborn-size diapers (Ohmigod! They're so tiny!) to use during the first week or two, and now the zygote's room smells like some demented chemist's approximation of "baby powder meets formaldehyde, with a touch of Lysol". And you expect me to stick that diaper WHERE?
That said, I feel it necessary to stick in a good word for disposables. After all, my father-in-law spent his career as a chemist in the paper division at Proctor and Gamble. So in a way, Pampers put d.w. through college, and for that I am grateful. Of course, even he used cloth diapers on his kids. Perhaps he was a little too familiar with all the crap they put in diapers during manufacturing. At least, that's the logic behind his not eating mayonnaise anymore...
I haven't asked too many specifics about that one. But I must say I can never look at potato salad the same way again...
If you haven't yet learned of the awesomeness of gDiapers (Um...did I just use "awesomeness" and "diapers" in the same sentence? Yikes...), they are an Australian concept employing a washable nylon outer cover and a flushable liner made from sustainably-harvested wood fiber. They're even Cradle to Cradle-certified. Simply brilliant. They've been discussed a lot more thoughtfully at I Hate Snaps, Treehugger, and Daddy Types (and I'm probably missing a few places), so I'll keep the expounding to a minimum.
So it was either that or cloth. And while I won't reproduce the entirety of the debate here, I'll give you the one sticking point to which we kept coming back: the expense. I know, can you believe it wasn't the thought of washing human feces-laden diapers several times a week? The thought of heightened fecal involvement isn't nearly so bothersome as is coming up with many hundreds of dollars' worth of diapers at the same time as, HELLO???, we're also trying to get everything else ready for the little guy. Yes, yes, I know they're less expensive in the long run, but we won't be on food stamps in "the long run." We're on food stamps now. And now is when we also need diapers.
(Just an aside: do you have any idea how fucked up the food stamp system is? You could buy absolutely nothing but Mountain Dew and Twinkies, and that would be just peachy — and believe me I've seen it, more than once. But you can't buy vitamins. Or energy bars. It's mind-blowing, really. And another thing: remind me to NEVER EVER EVER complain about taxes. EVER. Thank you, taxpayers of Iowa. Your generosity will not be forgotten.)
Anyway, here's the deal: in the end we didn't have to make any decision at all. A garage sale and thrift store phenom, d.w found a complete set of all the cloth diapers we will ever need at a garage sale around the corner. For forty bucks.
Now all we need is a baby.