The other week, I took out our kitchen trash out to the wheelie bin.
Other than a couple of small baggies of dog poop*, there was nothing in there.
Awesome, right? Just one bag of trash!
Not really. You know what fills up that bag every week?
Disposable diapers. Crunchy, non clorinated wood pulp diapers, but still...disposable?
Wait, wait, wait! Before you hit send on your hate mail! Except for a couple of road trips, we did use cloth diapers from my son's birth until just before we moved here in September. That's close to 2 years of disposables that didn't hit the landfill.
So why did we stop? Well, Southern California has hard water, and hard water's not all that great for cleaning diapers. No matter what kind of detergent you use, it tends to build up on the fabric and after some time the diapers start to repel the very liquid they are supposed to soak up and start to smell a little funky. Ignore the funk, and it just gets funkier.
All my little guy had to do was pee in his diaper once and if didn't just roll right off and dribble down his leg, it would activate this intense aroma reminiscent of inner city bus stops or alleyways behind dive bars.
You can eradicate the funk. It involves Dawn dishwashing liquid - don't ask me why, but it works - and repeated hot water rinsings. So, every six weeks or so, I'd initiate this super long wash day. Those diapers would get washed over and over and over again (in a single day) in my assuredly not high efficiency rented washing machine. This was not the best use of water in a coastal desert, particularly a coastal desert in the middle of a drought.
And then we went on our reconnaissance mission to Austin last summer, and those crunchy disposables were just so convenient for our trip. Once we got home, I was in the middle of purging and packing and making sure we got to see all our friends one last time, and then another last time and...well, it was just so easy...to pop on a disposable and chuck it in the trash when he was finished with it.
Yikes. Felt horrible just writing that.
Anyway, then we moved, and my intention was to leave a bunch of stuff packed up until we bought a place, and I just never unpacked the cloth diapers. Plus my boy started using the toilet and I thought, "well, if we're almost done with diapers anyway..." But one step forward, two steps back, and my boy doesn't really want anything to do with the toilet anymore.
It hit me last week, that if I am only throwing away one medium kitchen bag of trash each week, and disposable diapers are a huge chunk of that trash? We could get pretty close to Zero Waste if we just swapped back to cloth. The water here is nowhere near as hard as the water in SoCal. I can't possibly need to do my big wasteful de-stinkifiying wash as often.
Plus, cloth diapers are waaaay cuter than disposables, aren't they? Yes, those are my son's pink and floral print diapers. Our disposables ran out on Saturday. I can't wait to see what we're (not) trotting out to the curb Thursday night!
* Let's save dog poop for another post. There's got to be a more responsible way to deal with her output than wrapping it in a bread bag and tossing it in the landfill.