Every time I place a prefold on my daughter, I am steeped in satisfaction. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m enthralled with all things vintage--Lucy has a substantial wardrobe of decades-old gowns, bloomers, caps and delightfully frilly frocks--but my satisfaction stems from more than just the classic appearance of my cloth-clad baby. There’s something to be said for the act of wrapping her snugly in a simple, soft piece of cotton, a diapering system without gel-packed insides, generic cartoon characters or papery edges to irritate her skin. Just as a single hand-written letter is vastly superior to an abundance of abbreviated text messages, cloth diapers have an authenticity about them that cannot be overlooked.
After all, centuries of women have diapered their babies in nothing but cloth. I have wedged my way firmly into this assemblage, and my life is forever changed because of it. Cloth diapers mark the starting point of my own eco-educational journey--I can no longer ignore the weight of my presence upon this planet. The choices that I make, whether large or seemingly insubstantial, have genuine impact, as I am raising a member of the next generation. When it comes to encouraging her to shuffle in with the masses or traipse along her along own little path, I’ll kindly choose the latter, leading by example.
In this era of “throw-and-go” and “take-and-toss,” what are we teaching our children? I believe that I’m teaching Lucy the importance of perpetuity, quality over convenience, and personal responsibility. The diapers that Lucy has already outgrown have been carefully packed away for the children we hope to have in coming years. Besides the very few diapers that were used on Lucy in the hospital following her birth and during her first three days at home, she’ll have no contribution to the astounding 18 billion diapers tossed into the landfill each year. This is more than I can say for myself--now at a ripe 28 years old, my diapers are still sitting fully formed in a landfill not far from my current home. And they will, without a doubt, outlive me--each has an average of 472 years left.
Have I mentioned how far cloth diapers have come? As it is with all things, technology certainly has its place. From silken bamboo to uber-thirsty microfiber to the glorious invention that is polyurethane laminate (PUL), cloth diapering has made significant strides--some diapers are downright drool-worthy. And while I dabble in all genres of cloth, from pockets to fitteds to all-in-ones, I often return to the simplicity of the plain ol’ prefold, if not just to get my head on straight. In our constantly buzzing world, this “back-to-basics” break can be entirely refreshing.
Lucy has yet to babble out any real words, but I’m placing my bet on "Look, I'm fluffy!” to get that elusive spot in the baby book. Any takers?