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Monday, May 24, 2010

A confession...

I planted about 70 trees this weekend... well, I didn't but my husband and father-in-law did (under my close supervision).. but in any case, do you think that this is going to offset all of the 'bad' things that I am about to admit to???  You decide, I guess.

You see, I began this project with the 'simple' objective of saving money.  From there, I seemed to have plunged into the rabbit hole of eco-living and as a result, great, great, life changes have begun to take hold.  For instance, in the past week or so, I have been reluctant to consume any meat... in other words, I am well on my way to complete vegetarianism... and yet, it feels completely normal and not that big of a stretch at all.  I have also become an  'eco-diva' and if you are a male, please skip to the next paragraph to avoid any unnecessary details of women's menstruation... For those of you who are still reading, I have become a new user of the 'diva cup' - a synthetic device that you insert to 'catch' all of the 'stuff' each month and thus avoid using any paper/plastic products to deal with the monthly curse... I am also using cloth pads to deal with the in-between days.  This has been a huge step for me, and yet, so far, a wonderful one.  And yes, I do feel like an 'eco-diva', which makes it all the more worthwhile!

Now for my confession time... while I am using 'cloth diapers' for myself (essentially), you would think that I would still be employing this same technique with my son, now 18 months old.  The truth is... (GROWL), that I (and my mother-in-law) invested a significant amount of time and money to keep my child in cloth diapers from the time he was born.  Actually, to begin with, it was a wild success, as I found that the cloth diapers did a far better job at catching the 'stuff' than the disposables.  I was a huge advocate and user of the cloth system until Chephren turned about 9 months old... when all hell broke lose in my 'system'.  You see, all of a sudden, my son started to just REEK of urine.  I am talking about the ultimate YUCK of stenches here.  He would pee one little pee and just STINK!  It was not cool.  So, I started to do some research... I washed and boiled and washed and boiled those diapers... but it turns out that the problem could not be fixed.  The problem?  Our high efficiency washing machine!!! (Which we received as a gift from my parents in order to wash cloth diapers more easily - how ironic!).  The truth is that high efficiency machines aren't great for cloth diapers b/c they don't use enough water, thus causing a build-up of ammonia in the diapers that can't be washed out.  Needless to say, I was friggin' devastated... and I still am.  And now, my son has been in disposables for as long as he was in cloth diapers.  AHHHHHHHHHHH!  My heart hurts with every one of those things that I throw in the trash.

There... I have outed myself.  I am SO not perfect, even though I wish that I could be.  I share this information with you, my readers, because I think that there is an important message here.  Focus on what you CAN do, and not what you can't.  Despite my 'diaper crisis', I have still managed to make important changes in my family's life that will benefit the earth, the environment, and our health. 

All the best to you and yours... and thanks for listening!

Marebare xoxo


  1. ah Maren, I feel your pain with the cloth diaper issue. We've been out of ours longer than we were in them =(
    But the Diva Cup is a stellar product and I recommend it to every lady!
    You're eco-tastic!

  2. Hi Maren,
    I wanted to post a comment because the post has a lot in it that hit close to home. I too cloth diapered my youngest for close to a year and loved it (which I know may sound odd to some!). It was a great feeling to put the diapers on him and seeing them dry in the sun always felt like an accomplishment. But alas, my own roadblocks popped up-mainly going back to work and the issues that brought with it. I tried gdiapers for awhile (even had cloth inserts made for weekends) and that made part time cloth diapering a bit easier. Eventually though, running different diapering systems on different days just got to be too much and now with any luck we will be diaper free this summer. Your overall point though was not lost on me and I think is very important. While doing good for the earth is extremely important, doing good for your family and self is as well. The tricky balance is being committed but not making yourself crazy.
    I want you to know you have inspired me (and I'm sure many others) and I have made some small changes in our family life that I believe will benefit the earth (and ourselves). I am even inspired to look differently at things in my classroom. I am excited to bring some new ideas and approaches there as well.
    See, while one thing may not be going as you might have hoped or envisioned, you have created many ripples in the pond by simply tossing in your pebble.
    Continue your great work!

  3. Hey Maren,

    I tried the Diva cup back in November... sort of as a concession to No Impact Week. I wasn't sure I could deal with the yuck factor, but now I'm totally hooked and would never go back! Oh, the convenience of only having to change the thing once in the morning and once at night... no more looking at the clock in horror and wondering if it's already too late to avoid toxic socks!

    In terms of the diapers, I can totally relate about the smell of pee. Water is a very scarce resource here, so lots of eco-nuts advocate the "if it's yellow let it mellow" thing... and I've tried, oh, I've tried, but I just can't stand the smell!

    I've never had kids so I have no idea if this would work, but I do have a great deal of experience dealing with cat pee. I've had wonderful success with enzymatic products like Kids-n-Pets or Nature's Miracle. (I also tried one called Complete... but I wouldn't recommend that one because HOLY MOLY... it smelled worse than the pee!) In theory the enzymes eats through the stuff causing the smell, and I've had really good luck with them.

    I also recently tried something that was made with hydrogen peroxide, which I didn't think would work but was pleasantly surprised -- poor little kitty... he was trying to be good, but just didn't realize that he had grown so big that his rear was sticking out of the box!

    Anyhow, I can't remember the name of the peroxide stuff but it worked great. If you need me to, I can ask the folks at the store where I bought it. I also don't know if these sorts of things work well once the smell is set in, or if it only works on the fresh stuff. I did see several recipes on the web for cleaning up cat pee smell that included hydrogen peroxide though...

    Another stray thought... I've been experimenting with going no TP (not as gross as I thought it would be). Anyhow, in the process I've done a bunch of reading on diaper washing methods lately (I figured it should translate, right?) Many people advocate soaking them in washing soda before washing them. I've had great success with washing soda for general laundry (details in my crazy over the top laundry post: Maybe that would help?

    But if worse comes to worse, you gotta take care of yourself and your family. I mean it's certainly not worth it to have your house smell like a latrine!


  4. Thanks for the feedback/encouragement ladies!
    Rebecca (Ask/Boyko) - No YOU'RE eco-tastic! Thanks for checking in - we'll have to arrange a playdate for the kids soon - it has been far too long and I am sure that they are all so, so different. Hope all is well with you :)

    Cindy - you are too sweet, thank you for your kind, kind words... I am glad that you are feeling inspired! I am very impressed that you are able to 'do more' given that you are already a very busy mom of 3 and classroom teacher - you inspire ME with that feat alone!

    Rebecca the Greeniac (love it by the way)!

    Again, thank you for all of your tips/suggestions and information. I will have to check in to some of the suggestions that you have made... and I HEAR YOU ABOUT THE "LET IT MELLOW THING!!!" - I just can't deal with it either. I would rather pee outside for pete's sake (and given where we live, I sometimes do!!!)

    Also, I love the new website by the way. It is a great format for sharing all of your eco experience/knowledge. Keep up the great work!!!

    All the best to all three of you!

    Marebare xoxo

  5. I've had friends who have had the same problem with cloth diapers and new washers, so you're definitely not the only one.

    As for the Divacup, I too took some prodding to try it (the start of our zero waste project was the turning point), but now that I have, I'm a complete advocate for it. What a great product. People always think you're crazy when you tell them about it, but I don't like it just because of the "eco" zero waste part. It's also more convenient (and no, I don't work for Divacup!)