Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Importance of Cloth

Dave and I had a bit of a shopping spree last weekend. From making a huge Hannaford haul to stocking up at the Christmas Tree Shoppe, we dropped some pretty serious change (for us). The best purchase of the day? We had plenty to contend, but the one that got us the most excited was (drumroll, please) ...napkins!!!

You can wake up now. We've been using disposable napkins as long as we've, well, been alive. For the past oh-who-knows-how-long we've purchased Seventh Generation's brand because at least we knew that some trees had been saved in their making, being mostly (or 100%?) recycled materials. But it still seemed wasteful. The same went for paper towels (which, incidentally, are also SG brand in our household).

So, when we recently ran out of both, we were a) too busy and b) too lazy to purchase anymore for several days. It really made me notice how reliant I had become upon just grabbing a couple of paper towels to wipe up cat spills (water - they use it as a control weapon, spilling each other's as a big ol' neener-neener) and TWO, count 'em, TWO napkins just for dinner (that's just for me, not including Dave's). Granted, I used to reuse napkins when they didn't get used much, but it added up. It was enlightening to notice that it had simply become a habit, hopefully slightly easier to break than the cable habit (and here's an update).

When I mentioned the idea of switching to cloth napkins for everyday use (we've still got a small package of disposables in the cabinet for guests - namely our families who will probably find us to be nuts for our quirkiness), I was pleasantly surprised at how willing and happy Dave was to comply. Sweet! So, while in the Syracuse area, we searched a couple of stores before Target finally had what we wanted - a dozen soft, plain white napkins for $9.99. Not on sale, not as cheap as I'd have liked, but just THINK of not only how much we'll save in paper napkin costs, but the cost to the environment. I'm truly a believer in "every little bit helps", although it's sometimes easy to get dismayed.

Needless to say, I won't be washing napkins (and towels/dish rags, which are taking the paper towels' place - again, a couple rolls on hand for those messy cat emergencies) everyday. That would defeat the environmentally-friendly aspect of the switch, especially with no energy efficient washer/dryer living in our basement quite yet. We will be re-using for a few days. I'm excited to see how it goes.

The end of this thought brings me to the idea of cloth, in general. It's been around for so many thousands of years, and it's the modern society in which we live is finally reminding folks that it can help them to live a simple, uncomplicated lifestyle without the harmful impact of the easy, wasteful technologies of the last 100 years. Clearly it's always been important (hello? We're not nudists. Well, most of us aren't), but when I see the commercials for the new disposable "hand towels" with their own dispenser, I start to get physically ill. I'm all for sanitation, but there's an easier way. Ask the Quakers.

With this in mind, I'll make public the plan that Dave and I have discussed to cloth diaper any future Dellecese bambinos (or baibins/wee ones, for the Irish side). I'm not sure about Dave, but I know that my three siblings and I were all cloth diapered - Pampers were su-spensive back then! I think that the idea of convenience has somehow married itself to need, becoming the new American entitlement - no matter what someone can afford, they deserve to have whatever they want. Sure, Pampers (sorry, Mom only calls them Pampers, like Kleenex or Xerox) would have been a hell of a lot easier on my mother, especially with a sick husband and three other kids of varying ages to care for, but a) she was used to cloth diapering and b) they only used what they could afford. For not being that long ago, I'm shocked that Americans have so quickly forgotten such ideals.

Luckily, these days, cloth diapers have come a long way. There are several variations on them, from the traditional get-the-pins-out ones that we were raised with to all-in-one diapers that resemble disposables, there's a lot of research to be done - and I'm doing it. Currently, we're thinking of using the all-in-ones, which give the ease of disposables with the eco-friendliness and longevity/durability of cloth. I've also heard that diaper rashes are greatly diminished (if not non-existent altogether) using them.

However, these are generally-speaking NOT your mother's diapers, cost-wise. While they pay for themselves in the first 6-12 months (and even moreso in the years to come, if other babies are in the cards - mind you, we're not even close to pregnant right now), the initial cost is damn near staggering. Aaaaand this is why we lurve eBay. :-) Is it wrong to bid on items before one's even "with child?" ;-) Honestly, I figure we'll start bidding WHEN that day comes, but it's nice to see that there are used (and sometimes never-even-used, especially when a mommy gets them for a shower) options out there at reduced costs. *whew* 'Cuz my superstitious Irish side knows that the second I ordered anything, my ovaries would shrivel up for good. Graphic, but true. It's a powerful thing.

On THAT weird, TMI moment, I'll bid adieu, but will be sure to give an update on something you actually may WANT to know about; the napkin use.

4 comments:

  1. Terri SteinbacherAugust 9, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    We've also switched to the cloth napkins. We have a huge pile of them stacked in the middle of the table so they are always "convenient" and we are not tempted to reach for the paper ones. I have paper ones that I have squirreled away for days when we have company who wouldn't "appreciate" the cloth ones. With a 3 year old and an equally messy mother, they save us quite a few napkins each day. Our napkins are pretty big in size so we fold them in quarters and have plenty of unused real-estate left for another meal or wiping up the table when we are done. As far as the washing is concerned, I agree with you, Megan. It would seem to defeat the purpose if I washed a special load of laundry just for them. Generally, we have between 1 and 3 napkins a day that end up in the hamper and I am able to add them to any load that has just a little more room left. I also saved a bit of cash buying them after Christmas at the Dollar Store, of all places. I got 3 packages of 2 napkins for $.50 each! Ok, granted they are maroon and forest green with a Christmassy pattern to them, but what do I care when I wipe my BBQ sauce fingers on them in the middle of August?!

    We also use a lot of rags instead of paper towels, but again, we have some paper towels for those really gross incidences!

    On the other hand, I thought about the whole cloth diaper thing before my daughter was born. I really considered it for the cost savings and the environmentally correct thing to do. Then I visited with a friend whose baby was cloth diapered.... Oh the mess and pain in the rear end (no pun intended) they are when you are out and about. Who wants to carry around those dirty diapers with you? And talk about a whole lot of extra laundry to do. I'm not sure, when you figure in the costs of the extra laundry and the initial "start up" costs, that you are that much ahead economically. Environmentally, I'd say you'd be ahead a small bit, but that extra laundry detergent, water, and electricity do add up. But, maybe I'm just a bit squeamish about poop!

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  2. Good thinking! Geeze I want a home and things like this to put in it. Thanks for re-bringing this to my attention. Plus- thanks for the info on diapers, I was starting to wonder if there are "updated" versions out there. If preparing before there is kicking in your belly is wrong, then we're in trouble TOGETHER, sista'!

    Love,
    Sarah

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  3. Terri - Thanks for your comment! I'm glad we're not the only ones who might have less than "appreciative" guests. ;-) I'm pretty sure ours ended up being around $.80 each, but for the feeling of the fabric, it's worth the price. :-) Working on stocking up on rags, too!

    As far as the cloth diapering is concerned, can you tell me what type of diapers she was using? I'm very curious and interested in the topic! I've been researching the different types (as well as saving up for an energy efficient washer and dryer set) and, in general, the newer all-in-one or hybrid types seem quite clean. (And there's that wet bag thing that you can bring with you while traveling. Regardless, you dump any "nasties" into the potty, even when out and about.) Plus, if purchasing the ones with snaps (rather than velcro), certain brands will last through several kids. Not purchasing diapers for all the babies sounds pretty economical in the long term. :-) But, that's just based on the research I'm doing. Who knows, we may end up quitting it when we have kids - but we're gonna try first! :-D Thanks, again, for your input!

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  4. LOL Sarah, God I hope we're not in trouble! ;-) Remember that home is always where you are at the moment... why CAN'T you use your own napkins? :-D The diapers, well, I won't buy those unless I find them on sale, hee hee.

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