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A Journey that Started with a Cloth Diaper

Posted by CDB Guest on 7/2/2011 to Green Living

One mom share's her journey from cloth to crunchy.

Almost three years ago, when I was just a normal, Aquafina-chugging twenty-something, I attended my best friend's baby shower, where I met her cousin's new wife and their little baby boy. It was a hot day in July and the tiny guy was wearing only a t-shirt and something very cute and colorful on his bum. "Is that a cloth diaper?" I asked.  "Why yes it is."  "It's adorable!" For the next ten minutes or so she told me all about the wonders of cloth. From that moment, it wasn't even a question for me: I knew I was going to cloth diaper my kids.  It just made sense.  It was economical.  It kept lots of smelly plastic diapers out of the home and out of the landfill (as a two-time nanny and frequent babysitter I had plenty of experience with those).  And I'll reiterate, they were ADORABLE!

A couple of months after that shower, I met my husband, a forward-thinking kind of guy who'd recently decided to replace all the bulbs in his home with CFLs and who dreamed of owning an electric car (sadly, this hasn't happened yet). He was thrilled that I wanted to be a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom someday (though he often wishes HE could stay at home while I go off to work) and that I wanted to cloth diaper my kids. By the end of the following summer we'd been married and were expecting our own bundle of joy. I started putting stuff on my registries. A truckload of Fuzzibunz.  A few BumGenius. I'd been reading about plastics and how they can leach toxins into food when heated, so I threw a bunch of glass bottles on there (we've since switched exclusively to Pura stainless steel after some breakage). Natural rubber pacifiers. A few organic onesies. Some wooden teething toys.  A Tribest personal mason jar blender for making my own organic baby food. And then, you know, the normal stuff: a huge jogging stroller, a big plastic high chair, a bath seat, a wipes warmer... all the big expensive stuff grandparents are only too happy to splurge on.

Thirteen months after the birth of my son, I know if I could go back in time I'd've done some things very differently! Being in the cloth diapering community has opened my eyes to so much of the "green" world I had never even thought about before.  Every time I go to research a new diapering product or parenting idea, I find new links to new articles about more sustainable, eco-friendly ways of living. If I could go back now, the stroller and high chair would never have been on my registry. I'd've sought them out on Freecycle, consignment shops or Craigslist, the same places where I later found a walker, an exersaucer, a beautiful gliding rocker and ottoman, baby clothes, toys, board books, and even a gorgeous china hutch for our dining room (yes, for free)! Giving old unwanted objects a new home, and helping others to give my own old "junk" a new life, has been very rewarding to me.  I also would have added more WAHM-made accessories to my registry: the fleece crib teething guards I bought, for instance, which came packaged in PVC and have a plastic backing, could easily have been replaced with handmade ones from Etsy.

Our journey from cloth to crunchy hasn't only been about the baby. We now clean almost exclusively with vinegar and baking soda (except for our laundry and dish detergents...we try to buy the most effective eco-friendly alternatives for those). We keep our own food in glass containers, use reusable bags for shopping and are phasing out new plastic products wherever possible. We now buy only organic, free-range beef and chicken and organic produce when it's available, and I've just bought some xylitol to start making homemade toothpaste. My husband bought me a refurbished sewing machine for my birthday (at my request) and I'm learning to use it. We are in the process of buying our first home, and we are very excited about the prospects of vermicomposting, gardening, installing cork flooring and LED bulbs, and, eventually, maybe even some solar panels.

While some of this has been on the expensive side - particularly the organic food - the costs have been offset by all the money we're saving by reusing, consignment shopping and Freecycling. It's really been a fun, remarkable journey, and I'm excited for the next changes we'll make! Thank you to all in the CD community for helping to making it happen!