5/2/08

Kids Are Bad for the Environment

Boy, this whole “going green” movement couldn’t have come at a worse time. I’d love to help save the planet, but then I had a baby. Sorry, Mother Earth, but kids and eco-friendliness don’t go hand in hand.

I am the Lorax, I speak for the treesFirst, there’s the diaper issue. I admit I never seriously considered using cloth diapers, but these statistics I found gave me pause: “…roughly 5 million tons of untreated waste and 2 billion tons of urine, feces, plastic and paper are added to landfills annually. It takes around 80,000 pounds of plastic and over 200,000 trees a year to manufacture the disposable diapers for American babies alone.”

Damn. But then I’ve also heard the argument that the extra water used to wash cloth diapers is just as bad for the environment as disposable diapers. Anyway, for me it comes down to 1) cost, and 2) how well they work. I can buy Huggies in bulk at Costco. And my one friend who tried cloth diapers shelled out a couple hundred dollars only to find they leaked constantly.

So I’ve failed miserably at the first of the 3 R’s of environmentalism, “reduce.” How about “reuse” and “recycle?” Well, around the time my son was 1, the media hype about plastic bottles and BPAs reached a frenzied pitch. I considered trading our Avent bottles for glass ones for about half a second. Then I thought, in Miles’ hands, a glass bottle is as safe as a chainsaw. It would be shattered to bits in seconds. Some moms I know bought the BornFree (BPA free) bottles. I, however, abandoned the cause when I found out how much they cost, like so many of my good intentions. So now I use disposable plastic cancer-causing sippy cups.

I have tried to reduce waste by buying big bags of snacks or cereal and divvying them up into reusable containers instead of buying individually packed snacks. But you know what? Those individually packed snacks are damn handy when you’re in a rush. As are disposable plastic placemats, bibs, and any and all kinds of wipes. Heck, Miles can go through a stack of napkins and half a box of wipes after a messy meal. He kills a forest every time he eats a tuna sandwich at Panera. And when he brushes his teeth or washes his hands (really just an excuse to play in the sink), he uses more water than a small African village.

Let’s move on to recycling, shall we? We do a little better with that R. The piles of plastic and cardboard that every toy is packaged in these days go straight into the recycling bin. Ditto the stacks of baby catalogs we now get in the mail every day. And when I’m done with the cancerous sippy cups, I try to recycle those, too. A lot of Miles’ clothes come from consignment shops and we give them away when he’s outgrown them, so that counts as recycling, right?

Look, I’d love to drive a hybrid, buy eco-friendly diapers and organic cotton onesies like the celebrities, and grow all my own pesticide-free food in the backyard. (OK, I’m lying about that last one.) But it ain’t happening. Al Gore can take it up with me once my kid’s out of diapers.

FACT O’ THE WEEK: Women feel “green guilt” nearly twice as much as men. Guess that explains why my husband leaves the water running when he shaves.

PLEA O' THE WEEK: Vote for my photo of Miles "walking" a St. Bernard so I can win $2500!

12 comments:

Steve said...

Hi Mom2Miles, thanks for the mention in your blog. If you're looking for a great eco-friendly diaper check out gDiapers http://www.gdiapers.com They're cradle to cradle certified.

Elizabeth said...

I have enjoyed your blog before but as a fellow new mother who strives daily for environmental responsibility this entry really bothers me. When you so blithely dismiss the alternatives to your wasteful ways you do a great disservice to both the greener methods themselves and the many women who successfully practice them.

Cathy said...

I really enjoyed your post. I've been feeling the green guilt big time myself lately, as many of my posts in my blog attest! I'm trying to do stuff like recycle more and even hang my clothes out to dry instead of using the dryer. But I also go through a lot plastic bags and wipes and diapers, etc.

Christina said...

Until the paycheck increases to that of the big wigs, I agree with you, girl!

Chris said...

Hey Mom2Miles, love the blog. I dont usually leave comments but I had to after reading one of the comments you received on this post. I think someone really missed the message. I personally appreciate your honesty. Its funny to me when she says "your wasteful ways". The fact you even considered doing things like using cloth diapers shows you are obviously an educated, environmentally conscious person trying to do your best like the rest of us.

Mom2Miles said...

Elizabeth, I'm sorry it bothers you, but I'm simply trying to be honest, and a bit tongue-in-cheek, about my attempts to go green. My point was, I do what I can & try not to sweat the rest.

I think this makes me the victim of an "eco scolding"...

Kelli said...

After reading your post, I thought you might find this article interesting/entertaining -

http://www.parents.com/baby/care/diapers/one-dad-gives-up-disposable-diapers/

Talk about some "eco-scolding", check out some of the comments on his article. They might make you feel better. haha :)

Mom2Miles said...

Thanks, Kelli, that's really an interesting article. :)

femiabelardo said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by mine. :o)

As for the Go-Green movement that has taken off, I've felt drawn to it. We plan to use cloth diapers and we have been bought those reusable grocery bags. It's interesting though ... when I bought them, I immediately took off the ticket and told the cashier that I planned to use them since we had few groceries. She still asked me if I wanted a bag.

thewritermama said...

Loved this one. Very clever.

:) C

wmw said...

FYI, since it's on my mind because I was blogging about this recently, washing cloth diapers uses only about the same amount of water as flushing the toilet a few times a day. On the other hand, I guess that means that even if we potty train them, those darn kids are using up all the water!

But I think what would really give Al Gore a coronary is all the plastic toys, 90 percent of which were introduced to my home by my mother. It's not the kids destroying the earth--it's the crazy grandmas!

I enjoy your blog!

Wendy

Paula Spencer said...

Brave words, well said! I already have enough other kinds of guilt to work on ignoring, let alone adding "green guilt'!

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