A photo credit accompanying this story contains corrected material, published Feb. 3, 2008.
I often dip my feet into two opposing worlds: recycling at home, but not always at work; drinking soy milk, but still indulging in ice cream; practicing vegetarianism, but eating junk food.
So it shouldn't be a surprise that I absolutely love my toddler's super-soft organic washcloths. Yet, that's where my green baby products begin and end.
I'm attracted to the idea of environmentally friendly baby products, but I'm a convenience type of mom (takeout with plastic forks, anyone?). So when Home&Garden challenged me to live the green life with baby, it was the perfect way for me to squeeze out those organic washcloths and test the wider eco-friendly waters.
Generally pleased with the disposability of my toddler daughter's diaper waste (knotted like ineffectual sausage in the diaper pail), I reluctantly tried the cloth option. When my husband and I adopted our daughter from China almost a year ago, many friends asked if we were going to use cloth diapers. Of course, most if not all of them used disposable diapers with their little ones. Perhaps it's our vegetarianism or my husband's love of thrift stores that triggered such a question.
I barely have time to do my own laundry, let alone an additional 10 or so cloth diapers that amass each day. I remember my parents telling me how difficult these masses were to manage when my brother, born in 1959, served as his own little production facility. Their story sounded like the pioneer past -- chopping wood with a dull axe, icy winds across the prairie. As a more modern woman, my frantic life screams for the quickness and convenience of disposable diapers. Judging from my friends, I'm not alone.
However, eco-friendly Evanston mom of three Lisa Joy Rosing begs to differ: "Cloth diapering is fun. People don't know it's fun. They're scared." But what about the sharp pins, the precise folding? "They're not our grandmother's cloth diapers," assured Rosing, a cloth-diapering consultant.
While parents working on that pioneer dexterity still can find rectangle cloth pieces and pins, there's now an array of 21st Century cloth diapers to choose from. Here are four options, with explanations from Rosing:
* Pre-fold: "The old-style absorbent cotton rectangle diaper that parents fold and fasten on their baby [and] which needs a cover to be waterproof. Covers can be reused until soiled." Parents can secure the diapers with pins or a Snappi fastener ($2.49 at snappibaby.com).
* Fitted diaper: "Diaper with an absorbent soaker sewn inside that closes with snaps or Velcro, but needs a cover to be waterproof."
* All-in-ones: "Diaper with a waterproof outer, absorbent soaker sewn inside and either snaps or Velcro closure, which, when soiled, is put in the diaper pail for washing."
* Pocket diaper: "A waterproof shell with a pocket to stuff an absorbent insert ... [the diaper] can be used one time before placing in the diaper pail."
Ditching my life of disposable leisure, I opted to test the Fuzzi Bunz brand cloth pocket diapers from Be By Baby, 1654 W. Roscoe St., 773-404-2229, where Rosing teaches a cloth diapering class.
After my then-15-month-old woke from her morning nap, I placed a Fuzzi Bunz diaper on her. It was so simple to snap (in four places) that I almost forgot I was using cloth diapers. An hour or so later, my daughter's stinky diaper confirmed that I was in fact using cloth diapers. I scraped the, um, residue from the diaper and placed it in our Diaper Genie (Rosing recommends putting the excess in the toilet with the help of a Mini-Shower, a hand-held bidet).
I then applied a disposable diaper because we were on our way out, and it just seemed easier. But when we returned, before my daughter's afternoon nap, I again applied the Fuzzi Bunz. I was nervous . . . would it last a two-hour nap? I breathed a sigh of relief when she woke with wet diaper, but dry bed.
My daughter wore the Fuzzi Bunz twice more that day. Overall, I liked them. Will I switch? It would be easier if I were home full-time. Perhaps I'll try using them on the weekends ... maybe.
Toying with green living
Although they don't compete with disposable diapers in terms of landfill space, plastic toys can make any house look like a post-apocalyptic Disney World in a matter of minutes. Instead of these often-frustrating plastic affairs, consider "a durable toy that can be passed down to other kids or grandchildren. [Wooden toys] last a very long time," said Paul McRandle, deputy editor of National Geographic The Green Guide. "When buying wood, you're not contributing to pollution that is [emitted by] PVC plastic toys."
What should parents look for? McRandle said to make sure the toys are made from solid wood, either unfinished, or finished with non-toxic oil coatings made from plant oils such as walnut.
How green is my baby?
Being an eco-friendly parent sometimes takes a little more time, a little more effort, a little more money. But baby steps are better than nothing.
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
Los Angeles Times welcomes civil dialogue about our stories; you must register with the site to participate. We filter comments for language and adherence to our Terms of Service, but not for factual accuracy. By commenting, you agree to these legal terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.
Having technical problems? Check here for guidance.