Contributors

Ilana is co-owner of AppleCheeks Reusable Diapers and mother to three girls - Azure, Phoenix and Ione. She's also the owner of A Jaded Mama, a blog about mothering, small business ownership and all things green. When she's not busy coming up with new product ideas, working on social media campaigns and co-managing the business, you'll find her doing handstands, doing pull-ups, co-sleeping, raising school-aged children and reading.

Amy is the other co-owner of AppleCheeks Reusable Diapers and mom to three boys - Bailey, Davray, Sacha, and to beautiful DAUGHTER, River. She's a dedicated and very attached parent and just adores the company of her enormous, gorgeous boys. When she's not busy juggling the company finances, talking on the phone with suppliers and trying to talk Ilana down off a cliff, you'll find her very involved in her community activities and enjoying the great outdoors.

Natalie is the Social Media Coordinator for AppleCheeks Reusable Diapers. You can find her on @AppleCheeksDipe on Twitter or Instagram or the Facebook page! Natalie is the mother of three children - Elinor (6), Grant (3) and Roslyn, who will celebrate her first year of life - fully diapered in AppleCheeks - in December! If you follow her personal account on Instagram @justgnatty, you'll know that she's just a little obsessed with taking fun photos of these diapers and has an outright addiction to MiniZips. Got a blog topic, giveaway wish or product feature idea? Send a note to natalie@applecheeks.com!

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9:31AM

An Obscenity for a New Era

Written by Amy Appleton

I’m not one to swear.   Like, ever.   But if you think my mouth is too squeaky clean then you should try being around my husband.  One evening I emphatically declared, “I’m so freaking MAD!”  And he replied, “Please don’t swear.”  I thought he had misunderstood me and thought that I had uncharacteristically thrown out an F bomb. But, no, he just considers ‘freaking’ a bad word. Do you see what I have to live with?

Can you imagine what my poor man would think if he read all the parenting boards and blogs on the net? I can read his mind now: "Man, these cloth lovin’ mammas are tearing it up with their potty mouths."  You're probably saying, “What? Huh? We don't swear. What's this lady talking about?” But he knows and I know what David Suzuki has to say about one certain word.  The famous Canadian environmentalist said that the word DISPOSABLE should be like the F word for our generation.  

In fact, the word disposable is a misnomer.  We may “throw it away” but whatever is deemed to be so useless so as to be chucked out, it does not magically get disposed of.  It sits in our tidy bins, finds its way to the larger garbage bin that some hardworking person, usually a man, has the good fortune to dump into a huge, gas-guzzling, super-compacting truck where said item journeys to a HUMUNGOUS landfill to sit for anywhere from a few years to, much more commonly, a few centuries1.  

And talk about dirty language: don’t get me started on landfills.  While not always successful, the idea behind these beasts of burden is to (hopefully) isolate densely compacted garbage in the ground with plastic lining and a regular covering of soil. Due to the lack of oxygen in landfills, most items do not biodegrade as they would in a compost pile or elsewhere.  This is great news if you forgot to bury your time capsule last year! In two, three and even four generations’ time2, the Little Johnnies of the world will see, perfectly preserved, exactly what was important enough to us that we purchased and then tossed away.

What really gets me though, more than the word disposable, is its seemingly innocuous, cutsie, yet serenely menacing cousin “SPOSIE”.  This term, short for disposable, is used in reference to a throw-away diaper.  

Unfortunately, there is nothing cute or innocuous about these diapers, no matter how we try to sugar-coat them.  In Canada alone we throw away 4 million diapers per day3 and in the USA it is a whopping 49 MILLION that get tossed daily4.  49 million “sposies” find their way into the landfills each and every day, day after day, all year round.  That is nearly 18 billion cute little Poo Bear “sposies” each year, year after year.  You get the idea; It is a lot of diapers.  The point is, though, that these diapers are NOT disposable because they do not, in fact, get disposed of. They remain on our Earth, in one of the thousands of landfills5 dotting our illustrious nations.

Thanks to the Diaper Genie (a brand name that makes me go grrrrr) soiled throwaway  diapers are often wrapped up in sausage-like formations, tightly encapsulated and immortalized in plastic (yes, even MORE plastic than is already contained in the diaper itself).  This ensures some containment of the odour from the poop that was supposed to be properly disposed of in the toilet before being thrown away.  What, you never read the instructions on the side of the Huggies box?!  Yup, that’s right, no human waste should be thrown away with the diapers as it can contaminate ground water and release viruses and bacteria.  However, it is estimated that only 4% of throw-away diaper users properly dispose of the poop before chucking the diaper in the bin6.  That’s a lot of poop left to contaminate our drinking water!  Good thing we pay extra to have our drinking water carefully bottled in pretty plastic containers7.  Oh boy, don’t get me started...

The last point I'd like to mention is the idea of so-called “environmentally-friendly” throwaway diapers. There is no such thing. Unless you're home composting your diapers, wrapping these supposedly biodegradable diapers in plastic and adding them to your trash won't do anything more than contribute to the steadily growing problem. So don't deceive yourself. While the amount of energy going into the production of these diapers may be slightly reduced, and while the lack of bleach may be less harmful to our water systems, you're not making much of a dent when you choose these diapers. When they are used, they still need to go somewhere. Food for thought, huh?

1. http://behealthyandrelax.com/2007/11/how-long-does-it-take-to-decompose/

2. http://www.planetthoughts.org/?pg=pt/Whole&qid=1944

3. http://www.diaperingdecisions.com/VirtuesOfCloth.htm

4. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_disposable_diapers_are_thrown_away_each_day_across_America

5. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_landfills_are_there_in_the_world

6. http://community.babycenter.com/post/a22565231/diaper_users_do_you_flush_the_poop

7. Readers might be interested to know that about 60 MILLION plastic water bottles are chucked out each day in the USA alone. But they are not usually full of poop. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_plastic_bottles_are_thrown_away_each_day

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Reader Comments (3)

Great article Amy! Yeah, I always wondered what people were thinking about the "eco-friendly" diapers...unless you're just using them because your kid is allergic to the stuff in other disposables.
I shared it on facebook.

December 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy T.

Interesting. I use cloth almost exclusively though disposables on Sundays for the church nursery. I had no idea fecal matter should be disposed of prior to tossing the diaper!

December 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenn @ Beautiful Calling

Loved the article. I get pretty steamed about the everyday waste... I'm a very conscious shopper and always think, "Ok, where will this end up at the end of its life?" Which is why I never buy plastic toys...
I've always dumped poop in the toilet because that's where it belongs. Waste treatment systems are in place so that poop dosen't go into the ground or get eaten by some animal. Disgusting. It's too bad that the general mindset of the population today is "Buy, throw out, buy, throw out, I'm not going to think about what happens after that!"

December 31, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterwillowsprite

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