The Best Laid Plans (of a Cloth Diapering Mama) Often Go Awry

Dear Drought of 2016:  You win.


Cloth Diapers

We cloth diaper.  There, I said it.  Now that it’s out there I’ll explain a little bit why.  We love the Earth and try to conserve resources where we can, but are not environmental activists by any stretch of the imagination.  I try to buy organic fruits and veggies, but only when it’s within our budget.  I like more natural cleaning products, but there’s no clean like Mr. Clean.

We started this journey because our daughter has super sensitive skin and was having issues with disposables.  Down the rabbit hole I went.  Those patterns!  They’re so soft!  Made in Canada, you say?  Sold!  No more buying diapers (after the initial investment, of course).  The rashes went away and we were never concerned about having to run out to the store for diapers.  ‘Twas wonderful.  Then we started seeing the real difference in the amount of garbage our home produced.  In two weeks we didn’t have one full bag.  With disposables we were filling up two, very smelly bags with ease.  The sheer amount of diapers filling up landfills is mind boggling.  With ours, and many other municipalities, limiting the amount of garbage per home this became more essential.

I’m a  visual learner so this image of cloth vs. disposable diaper waste helped me see the mountain of difference.

We like to travel when we can and I wasn’t sure how we’d manage with cloth, but surprisingly it was pretty darn easy.  If we were just going away for a weekend we would bring enough for the time we were gone, stash them in the wet bag and deal with them upon arriving back home.  No big deal.  The kids and I went to Nova Scotia for the summer and I was determined to make cloth work while we were away.  I was looking forward to the super soft water where we were headed for doing laundry .  Our water at home is so hard it is essentially just very fine, wet rocks which eventually leads to stink problems with diapers, even though we use water softeners with each load.  I loaded up all of our Lil Helper’s and Funky Fluff’s and we hit the road.

The first couple weeks went along swimmingly.  We went whale watching, fishing, beaching, swimming, lighthouse exploring, museum meandering and dory rowing all in cloth diapers.  Look at me!  Cloth diaper success!

Not so fast there, grasshopper…

The rain didn’t come and the well quickly ran dry.  Still determined to make it work I decided that I would just head over to the laundromat -30 minutes away- and wash them every few days.  No big deal.  An excuse to head to Tim Hortons, I told myself.  This worked.  Once.  I prewashed, and then washed.  $6.00 later we were on our way home to dry them.  4 days later, still no rain.  We were sponge bathing and after spending the day at the beach I had actually convinced myself that the sea water had cleaned my son.  That my friends, is a fabulous untruth.  We stunk and we knew it.  I packed up the dirty diapers, our smelly selves and headed to the laundromat.  Apparently everybody’s well is dry and there is a line up for machines and I couldn’t bring myself to commandeer one for the two hours it takes to prewash and wash the diapers when others just needed some clean clothes.  We headed home, dirty diapers and all.  I stopped on the way and picked up a few more jugs of drinking water, filled our pails for toilet flushing and bought the biggest box of Pampers known to man.  I like to think that we are a resourceful family, and I can honestly say I gave it a college try.  I washed the diapers as best I could in a pail, let them dry and dealt with them properly upon returning home to Ontario.

The rain never came.  Not one drop for the entire summer.  The summer of sixteen saw South Western Nova Scotia being dealt an unheard of drought. Wells that had never been dry in 100 years, were bone dry. If you ever want to see a resourceful bunch, head East.  I kept imagining what would happen if this were to happen at home and I’m pretty sure a state of emergency would’ve been announced within the first week.  This went on for months.  It was a huge inconvenience but it wasn’t the panic that would’ve ensued had this happened at home.  There were ways to make everything essential work.  A sponge bath isn’t the greatest but hey, it did the trick.  The town was able to install a tap for people to get water for flushing and for those delightful sponge baths.  There was drinking water available at every store.  We could wash our clothes at the laundromat.  I never would have realized how much water we regularly waste had this not happened.  Simple things such as letting the water run while brushing our teeth and having extra-long showers.  My mother actually wrote a funny blog about that very topic, the water shortage and our love of 5 gallon pails.  Cloth diapering was something that I just couldn’t make work on this trip, this time.  And that was just fine.  I’ve never been as grateful to have disposable diapers as an option, as I was this summer.  I felt that I should send Procter and Gamble a thank-you note.

We are back home and happily back to cloth diapering.  If you are contemplating cloth diapering try not to overthink and worry too much about traveling while your at it. It truly is pretty simple.  I would however make sure to stash some Pampers just in case.

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