Having a baby on the way is pretty crazy. So much anticipation, preparation, and opportunity to be a rabid consumer. It seems like everywhere my wife and I go there’s something cute, plastic, and “required” for a first time parent to buy. Changing tables, baby bathtubs, bottles, mobiles, strollers, not to mention the clothes. Even the staunchest minimalist has to admit that a tiny pair of Vans warms the heart a little.
But the thing about babies is that they could care less what they’re wearing or how they get around. They have a few basic requirements: to stay warm, dry, well-rested and fed. They grow so rapidly that they need to overhaul their wardrobes faster than a crazed fashionista, meaning that many of the clothes showered upon them at a baby shower go virtually unworn. That’s why my wife and I tried to encourage people attending our shower to give us their second-hand clothes and baby toys. It was pretty cool because a lot of my friends who already have kids had some very gently used clothing and even better, toys that had been passed along a few generations.
There are some things that can’t be passed down, though”like diapers… This has been the biggest source of head-scratching for us, because there are pros and cons for even the most eco-friendly baby waste disposal. We discovered that “biodegradable” diapers really don’t break down effectively in landfills where the oxygen required to do the job is cut off by more trash. Cloth diapers are a better solution, but using a diaper service requires lots of energy for gas (pick-ups) and washing machines.
We think we may have found the solution, though. There’s a new Portland company called gDiapers that offers a natural, breathable, and most importantly, flushable diaper system. The deal is that these flushable inserts go into a plastic lining that goes into a pair of cloth “Little G” pants. When the baby does its thing, you pull out the insert, tear it open, drop it in the toilet, and give it a couple brisk stirs with a wand-like “Swishstick.” Then, just flush it like anybody else in the family would. And they look pretty dapper too (not that the baby would care).
I could go on, but it would also be nice to hear other sustainably-minded parents’ tips for leaving less of a footprint when you bring some small footprints into the world.