Wednesday, March 20

Rubbish Day

    I've been thinking of writing this post for ages! Which is unusual, because usually I am somewhat of reactive blogger, something happens and I feel something, I react, and I blog about it. But this topic is quite dear to my heart, and part of a larger picture. So I guess all my ideas have been whirling around without any focus, and it's been hard to know where to start. I'm still not sure how much I can take on or commit to, and I'm wary of making any grand gestures that I can't follow through on. But it's time I share this passion of mine with you! So at least, let's make a start.
    You've all seen the quote "Save this planet, it's the only one with chocolate"... and there are many along that line. They're cute, catchy sayings, that hopefully stick in our heads... but they don't exactly propel one to action. So what does? I wish it was easy. I wish I could convince other people about the importance of our planet. It is such a wondrous place. And it really is dying.  I think the breadth of the issue, the complexity, the seemingly insurmountable task of turning back time actually stops me from trying in any small way to make a difference.
    A couple of weeks ago, we missed rubbish day. Ok, Josh missed rubbish day. It's his job. Once a week, on a Wednesday night, prepare The Rubbish Bag. On the Thursday morning, Put It Out. No biggie, right? Turns out(I'm not really mad any more, honest....) that Josh only has an alarm for rubbish set on Thursday mornings, at about 7. Which means that when he goes into work early, as he is wont to do, he leaves home at 6, and by the time the little chirpy alarm sounds, he's already far far away. Then I wake up, usually a bit too late let's be honest, get ready for the school drop off and for the rest of us to go to Mainly Music straight after, and find that the rubbish hasn't been put out. And because, on this occasion, we were running extra late, and I was grumpy, and the distance between where our rubbish bin lives and the curb is about 500 metres(slightly exaggerated), and I had my hands full already, I declined to put it out. Because, you know, it's not my job. It's his job. Haha. Aren't I petty? SO anyway, cutting a long story short(oops it's already pretty long), the following week I discovered that we had not 1, not 2 but 3, THREE rubbish bags to put on the curb. Where did it all come from?? It was a wake-up call for me.
                                                                         
    So I did the maths, and I tried to work out what was making up all of this rubbish. Because 1 and a half bags per week is UNACCEPTABLE! I figure it's about 1/3 nappies, 1/3 food scraps and 1/3 packaging etc. And I am going to beat that bloat. My goal? It's a lofty one, I'll admit, but I'd love to see our rubbish output go down to half-ish a bag per week. As in, we would only put out a bag once a fortnight. Do you think it's possible? Maybe not, but I've got to try. So today I'm going to talk about the nappies. It might even have to be a two-parter. Then(not promising it'll be tomorrow, because I'm inconsistent as hell) I'll talk about food scraps, and our options there. And then we can look at how to reduce on packaging.
Nappies:
    I've been a fan of cloth nappies for a long long time. Not because they're really cute(they are). And not because they save you money(they do). In fact, it makes me cross when people go on about how much they're saving by using their flash OSFA PUL AIOs. The cost is completely beside the point. Even if it cost MORE to use cloth nappies(and I'm not saying this lightly - we have very little spare money to spend on much at all), I would still do it. Here's a little fact for you. Disposable nappies take about 500 years to break down. 500 years. Disposables were not invented 500 years ago. Much much less. In fact, Valerie Gordon, a British housewife, finally sold her idea to a businessman in 1949. Which is just 64 years ago. What I'm getting at, with all these nappy numbers, is that every disposable nappy that has ever been used has still not even started to break down. That fact completely blew my mind!
                                                                         
 So. Cloth nappies. I have plenty. Between the ones I've made myself, and the ones I've bought second-hand on Trademe, I have enough that we should never need to use disposables. But we do, all the time. Why? We're lazy. I'm lazy. I don't like poo all that much, so if I suspect that there's one on the way, I'll sometimes stick her in a disposable! Naughty! Organic matter that goes into landfill is a MAJOR contributor to climate change, pumping out methane gas as they break-down. We have a sewage system, we should use it. Another time I use disposable nappies is at night. Not because I'm worried about leaks(which will always happen occasionally whether or not you're using cloth), but because of the smell. When you take off a heavily sodden cloth nappy in the morning there is a God-awful PONG that arises, an acidic ammonia cloud that burns your eyes and the back of your throat. It's nasty, I won't lie. It makes it hard to breathe. Blecch. Another time I use disposables is when I'm having a rough day. Not enough sleep, feeling a bit depressed or otherwise ill, and I pop on a diaper. Why? They're not easier to put on, and they're not easier to take off. In the short-term it places no less of a burden on me, and in the long term only makes for a slightly smaller load. So I'm not sure that's the brainiest move. Any other times I use disposables? Well sure, on the weekend quite a bit, when I sleep in and Josh looks after the kids... often until midday by himself! Yes, the man is a trojan, and it feels mean-spirited to ask him to also use cloth nappies while wrangling three children. And once a disposable is on, for some reason, we just keep popping them on! So there are lots of opportunities for me to cut down on our disposable nappy use.
      Reason:                                                     What to do?
      Poo              ...                                     Harden up, Rachel!

Noxious cloud of Ammonia ...                 Any ideas peeps? I guess I could change her more often at night, seeing as she's getting up anyway. I could wear goggles and a face mask. I could just HARDEN UP(see above)! But there must be some hacks I don't know about...

When I'm blue        ....                            I think I might let this one slide. As I said at the beginning of this epic novella on trash, I'm wary of making any giant statements of goodwill, when reality is often, well, reality. BUT I will be more thoughtful of my choices, and maybe I'll put up something on the wall above the change table, to remind me of how easy it really is to choose to put a cloth nappy on. Cos really, HARDEN UP!

Weekend Rest          ...                   I'm pretty sure that this also is not a viable excuse. Maybe I'll allow Josh ONE disposable, to put on bubs first thing, in the hour of chaos as he tries to feed 3 chirping mouths? But I can help by having a bunch of nappies set up and ready to go for him, so that it's almost as quick to grab a cloth one.

So there you have it, I have something of a plan to reduce our use of disposables. But there is still a giant problem...  my almost 5 yr old uses a pull-up nappy at night. Every night. And he still soaks it, every night. And I'm not quite sure how to swap that nappy for a cloth one... I'm really not sure I'm game. I mean, can you IMAGINE the toxic fumes of pulling that one off in the morning? I'd need, I don't know, a radiation suit or something! I'm totally stumped. There are cloth options, but I'd have to bulk them out a lot to absorb the amount this boy pumps out overnight. I'm just not sure. Can I allow myself those 7 nappies a week? Doesn't seem that much does it.... any ideas people?
Tata for now my lovelies, I promise the next one won't be as long... well, not really promise, but I'll try ok?

EDITOR'S NOTE:(well ok author) This post is meant only to inform and hopefully inspire. I do NOT want anyone reading this to think I am judging them or their decisions. Everyone that I know who uses disposable nappies are genuinely lovely, intelligent people raising beautiful children. I appreciate how lucky I am to have the resources both mentally and physically to make this decision at this time. I am not 'Judge Judy and executioner'. I would love to become a vegetarian, but I cannot do that presently. We all have our things. I'm just aiming to beat my personal best. xx

10 comments:

Sophie Slim said...

The rubbish thing scares me too - I'm a pretty religious recycler, we're lucky to live in a large apartment complex so we can put our rubbish and recycling into the different skip bins whenever we feel like it - which could be kinda MORE wasteful, because I am not concious of how much rubbish we're actually throwing out. I think most of ours is food scraps, we dont have any organic bins (the rest of chch does, our apartment doesn't)... hmmmm... perhaps I should ring the council and request one!!! Theres an idea!

Heading to the webpage now!
x
(we're cloth nappy users during the day, disposable at night and at church)
(new baby on the way will be in dispos. until she's on solids ;) )x

kiwimedievalist said...

Well, I have absolutely nothing of use to say with regards to nappies - except I'm really glad I don't have to deal with them!

As regards the ease of use, however (and I'm sure you've already got systems, but...) having a stack folded ready for use will/would always make it easier to reach for those over plastic ones. Even when blue, the availability of them would mean a tendency to use them, and put the 'deal with the other end' off for later. How to put procrastination to good use?

As far as food scraps go, I have more ideas...

kiwimedievalist said...

Blast - and I meant to add that the folding of nappies is something that one can do while watching TV at night. An automatic action, requiring little thought - I used to do it for Mum, MANY years ago (considering little bro is 26 today!).

Rachel Osborne said...

Thanks for your comment Sophie, can't wait to meet you soon! :) Yes Kerryn I always fold nappies... and everything else... in front of the tv, we never have any room to sit! And I pre-fold them straight away, but I think that I need to get them out of the basket where they're neatly stacked, and into plain view on the change table :) xx

Marion said...

Love it! I just sold my smalls and I think I used them for a total of about two weeks with George. Used them longer with Ella but found it a battle to keep on top of laundry. I wrote a post about selling out and going disposables and I too am shocked by how much rubbish we have. I have made peace with the pull up for Ella at night but you have inspired me to try with my cloth again. But maybe once George is over his tummy bug ;)

Max said...

You could also petition envirocomp to open a nappy recycling plant in auckland, we have one here in canterbury, and the wellington region has one too. Costs us about $200 a year. Also there are much more degradable enviro nappies around too which helps a little bit with the whole landfill issue. We used to button up our cloths and use as a pull ip, but then the first kid was skinny i dont think it will work for our new chubby bubby!
Pop your sposies out of reach of the change are-maybe store with pjs and have your cloths close at hand.
Look forward to your post tommorow, we are down to one bag every two weeks, sometimes less, and be great to meet you at bloggers connecting. I'll be the one with the howling baby! (and not the only one apparently), have a great week x

Max said...

Nappy composting sorry not recycling, imagine, yuck!

Redflax justine balcar said...

we have used cloth for our kiddies, and i am now in the same position with my recently turned 7yr old who is still in a pull up at night - the volume of pee is huge! - and i tried to keep using cloth, but it was so acidic that she ended up with abcesses on her butt! Her skin couldnt cope with the urine staying near it all night. so we are on pull ups now - like you i would love to hear if anyone else has a solution - havent managed to track down any eco pull ups? :)

Christine said...

Hi Rach, I'm just catching up on your blog! I hate the rubbish thing too, and am totally stumped about what to do about it. Our rubbish used to be so much smaller when I could recycle food scraps, but rotting vegetable matter is one of the things that's incredibly dangerous for Zoe. So no compost bin. Like, ever ever. And I HATE that! I just toilet-trained her this week, so have gone from 28 nappies a week to 14 (two a day, one for each sleep) but after reading this, I'm going to get some disposables. We couldn't use them before because her poo is toxic because of the enzymes, but I have no excuse now that she poos in the toilet. Off to Baby Factory!

Christine said...

Hi Rach, I'm just catching up on your blog! I hate the rubbish thing too, and am totally stumped about what to do about it. Our rubbish used to be so much smaller when I could recycle food scraps, but rotting vegetable matter is one of the things that's incredibly dangerous for Zoe. So no compost bin. Like, ever ever. And I HATE that! I just toilet-trained her this week, so have gone from 28 nappies a week to 14 (two a day, one for each sleep) but after reading this, I'm going to get some disposables. We couldn't use them before because her poo is toxic because of the enzymes, but I have no excuse now that she poos in the toilet. Off to Baby Factory!