green shame

I wasn’t ready for the poop. Or the diarrhea, the green stuff, the smells and even the appearance of a steady stream (sometimes literally) of crap.  I liked to think of myself as a ‘green’ consumer, but after a couple of days in the hospital after the birth of my son I knew I would be a disposable diaper parent.  He had me at ‘meconium.’

Using disposable diapers was slightly inconvenient in New Jersey. First, they were expensive:  but problem solved, order in bulk online.  Second, we had a townhouse and we weren’t going to run the diapers down to the garage at midnight.  Problem solved:  buy a diaper genie-type thing that had an “airtight” seal.  Third, I did have to trundle them over to the community trash compactor, which was fine in the summer but a bit of a pain in the winter.  But in general, disposables seemed to work.  I felt bad about tossing that much garbage away, but not really:  if you throw away two or three diapers a day, it doesn’t seem like much in the grand scheme of things.

Jump to 2010, and clan Brip Blap relocated to the outer edge of a small town in a fairly rural county in Florida. No more community trash:  just a once-a-week trash pickup service.  One kid off diapers but another stubbornly clinging to the last luxurious days of poop-on-the-go diaper service.  And finally, one papa, flinging plastic bag after plastic bag (and yes, I know that’s bad too) into the trash waiting for Wednesdays.

That’s a lot of poop from one small toddler; that poop (and pee) is wrapped up in even more vaguely scented, children’s-TV-brand imprinted diapers.  The first time I looked at the trash can on a Wednesday morning as I dragged it to the end of the driveway for pickup I was appalled.  Almost four years of diapers in landfills.  The thought of it made me realize that, along with continuing to drive my ten-year old poor-MPG Pontiac on a long commute daily, I’m not nearly as green as I should be – or would like to be.

It’s a tough choice on many levels and, of course, not being the stay-at-home parent it wasn’t really my call anyway. But like with many life lessons – learning to control spending, eating well, staying away from drugs, and learning to root against the New England Patriots – it’s worth reflecting on for a while.  I won’t be having any more children, and now that my daughter, Pumpkin, is almost trained it won’t be an issue in my family again.  But there will be a poop-and-diaper equivalent, and hopefully someday I’ll develop the backbone to match rhetoric and actions.

2 comments

  • Hey Steve,
    Well written. It is hard to be green and frugal sometimes. Healthy and frugal is often difficult as well. We rarely eat things that are prepackaged and it's hard to keep our grocery bill down. We do it, but it's a struggle.

    Back to the diapers, my sister is about to have her baby in a week's time and I know they're going to try the reusable cloth diapers. I can't wait to see how long that lasts. It was the same for my little sister (I was 10 when she was born). My parents did the cloth thing for about a month before they realized none of us older kids were going to help with the laundry anymore:)

    Talk to you soon,
    Guy

    • Guy, we have similar issue – we try to eat healthy, organic, locally grown, etc. food, but b/c of that our grocery bill is outrageous. Why does healthy food cost so much? It is hard to be frugal and healthy. It's almost impossible and shouldn't be tried, they don't go hand in hand, unless you grow your own veggies and fruit.
      As for cloth diapers – your sister might last long enough as long as she starts potty-training from the start. When my younger sister was born (I was 12) we had no disposable diapers and we had to use cloth ones. Yes, doing laundry and looking at all the nastiness was my dad's, mine and my sister's resposibility. But in Russia, babies are potty trained early, so my sister was fully potty trained by the time she was six months old. I cannot see how you can do cloth diapers till your kids 2 – 2.5 y.o. You will never leave your house for fear of mess.