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June 2016

Discontented by disposability - Guest post

Recycle

My running buddy Bridget and I always have great talks during our jogs.  Some days we just chat about the funny things our kids do or our favorite ways to eat certain foods.  Other days we might discuss terrorism or sad affairs that make us question the world.  The range of our conversations really is infinite which is why I love our time together.

The other day while making our way through the woods, she told me she had been thinking about all the disposable products we use as a society.  She thought it might make a great blog post.  I agreed.  I said, "You write it.  I'll post it."  

So here it is... my friend Bridget's first blog post.  Hope it helps raise some questions about how much we all throw away each day and maybe gives some ideas on how to prevent so much trash. 

 Many thanks to you, Cynthia Lee, for allowing me to be a guest blogger. Readers, this is my first foray into blogging, so forgive me if I ramble a bit! Have you ever thought about how many things a day you throw away? I’d never really thought about it until recently. Disposability and convenience is a part of who we are as consumers. Now, let me back the story up a little bit to explain why my wheels got turning on this topic. In the past year, I found myself fortunate enough to be able to take an extended maternity leave after the birth of our son. I had also done this with our daughter when she was born, so I was ready and laid out a plan. Now this may not be your experience, but in my life every plan comes with a surprise. And this one was a biggie! Our family had been searching for quite some time for a larger home. Just about when I was ready to abandon the search we found, bought, and moved into our dream house right at the end of my pregnancy. Needless to say, the plan and careful family budget I had laid out got blown to smithereens in the blink of an eye! We found ourselves in a tight financial spot, which was a place that my husband and I found very unfamiliar. Having a larger house, a preschooler and a new baby, and being down by one source of income forced us to take a look at ways to save that we had never really considered before. I would consider us to be an average American family. We buy things like single serving yogurts, canned beverages, and juice pouches. The one thing that all of these have in common? You toss the whole package after you’re finished with it. Totally convenient, but it got me thinking about the cost of the packaging AND the environmental impact our family was having. It seemed to me that eliminating some of the disposable things we use would be a good place to start saving.


Having an infant, disposable diapers and wipes are an unavoidable purchase for us. Washing piles of messy cloth diapers and wipes in a day was not an idea that I was comfortable with. This made me take a closer look at the disposable overnight undies my daughter was wearing. At four years of age, she isn’t physiologically capable of holding it all night yet. On top of that, the disposables were leaking on us at least three days a week. You may think I was buying the wrong size, but I assure you I had it right. These leaks meant stripping the bed of the sheets, mattress pad, and (sometimes) the comforter and washing all of them. There MUST be a better way! I was buying a case of these disposable overnight undies a month and throwing every last one away because they were wet. Washing wet ones I can handle- so I began researching reusable bedwetting underwear. After all, there had to be a product out there. There’s cloth diapers, so why not? Thirty years ago (give or take a few), disposable diapers were a new and expensive craze. People have been having babies and potty training their children for ages. What did they use?


Time to cue the angelic choir- I found THE product for us to stop the cycle of leaky disposables and washing all of the bed coverings multiple times a week. We call them “Bedtime Pants” but they’re actually Mother-Ease Bedwetter Pants. No, you HAVE NOT been duped into reading a commercial. I have absolutely no endorsement from or affiliation with this company, I just REALLY loved their product and what it did for our daughter, so I had to acknowledge them. She was so upset to tell me every morning that her disposable leaked and I was really getting worried about what this was doing to her self confidence. The “Bedtime Pants” are soft, comfortable, and have not leaked one drip EVER in the three months we’ve had them. She is so happy to have them! If you want to know more about this product, fire up your favorite search engine and check it (and it’s reviews) out. Back to my tale of discontent with disposability. So, the “Bedtime Pants” experiment really worked out! We’ve had several weeks where our family of 4 has only created one bag of trash—and that’s WITH a baby in diapers!


After this success, I really wondered what other disposable thing in our household could be replaced with a viable reusable option. It was then that I remembered a conversation I had had with a friend during my pregnancy about menstrual cups. At the time, I had dismissed it offhand. After all, I was pregnant and had no need for such a thing for quite a while after the conversation happened. And, quite honestly, the idea kind of grossed me out. My favorite search engine and I were all over this topic for several nights after I remembered the conversation. After many hours of reading, I decided to take a chance and buy one. Now it may not be for everyone, again do your research, but it is TOTALLY for me. The cost benefit analysis I did before making the purchases of both of these products was enough to convince me that I would be making a more pricey purchase initially, but I’d quickly make back my money. And the best part? I’m keeping these items for at least a year, eliminating trash from the landfill, and doing the little bit I can to break the cycle of dependence on convenient disposable stuff.


This whole experiment made me think about my grandparents. They grew up during the Great Depression and lived through the lean times during World War II. These people had the mindset that nothing was disposable. They fixed things that broke or found ways to give an object another life as something else once it came into their households (maybe that’s a topic for another post?). I know, you’re thinking, “But they had to.” Maybe we don’t “have to,” but perhaps we should. We should make a little extra effort and take on a little inconvenience if it means that better things are coming our way. Now I’m not saying that everything has to be reusable, but take a look at the items you bring home the next time you go shopping. If you chose one item to replace with a reusable version OR find a way to upcycle it, you’d be making a positive change for your wallet and the planet. You’ll be taking part in a HUGE trend too if you upcycle! If every person that reads this post does just that, it may actually start to have a ripple effect. After all, if something works great for you, aren’t you bursting to share your experience with others? Each of us only gets so many trips around the sun to discover what works for us and make some sort of impact on society as a whole. I’m hoping that this little choice I’ve made gets you thinking, and talking, about disposability in our society. Maybe my discontent with disposability will turn out to be a positive thing.

Thanks, Bridget!  Hope you enjoyed writing it as much as I enjoyed reading it!