Home | About | Donate

Am I Still a Rebellious Mom If I Use Disposable Diapers?


Am I Still a Rebellious Mom If I Use Disposable Diapers?

Frida Berrigan

I have a confession to make. I am hardly using cloth diapers any more.

There it is. I said it out loud. It feels good to get this off my chest.

I should go on. There are worse things in the world to be guilty of, but I feel pretty lousy about this. Our household is so good about trash. Between faithfully (even in this freezing cold) composting and assiduously recycling, we generate very little trash. It is a badge of honor for me that we don’t have to take our rolling trash can to the curb every week.


What I’ve wondered about cloth diapers is the unconsidered wastes. The article mentions that it takes 20 times more water to create a disposable, but doesn’t tally the amount of water used to wash the cloth. Everyone I know who uses cloth diapers winds up soaking them in bathtubs full of bleach/other cleansers, rinsing them constantly and doing at least one additional load of laundry basically every day. That never seems to get factored into the environmental impact and overall cost analysis of cloth diapers. It’s as if the diaper gets created and that’s the last of it. What about the costs of maintenance?


I grew up in a large family (ultimately 10 kids) where there was always one and often two babys-in-diapers in the house. My mother used cloth diapers - attached with safety pins - becasue disposable diapers weren’t “invented yet”. My mother rinsed them in the toilet bowl (no, you will not die if you put your hand in a toilet bowl - even if there is a household member’s shit in it) and then they went into a diaper pail with a bit of dilute Clorox solution in the bottom, next to the toilet. When the bucket was full, they were washed. I certainly don’t recall it being every day - maybe every four days - the other kids clothing being far greater volume of laundry. As far as people are using excess resources in washing cloth diapers, it may be becasue of excess corporate-manufactures germ-o-phobia that need to go.

But why the hell is a single cloth diaper costing $30.00? Is that like the way the price of a plain plastic drum or trash can goes from $5.00 to $100.00 by simply renaming it a “compost bin” or a “rain barrel” for sale to the bourgeois liberal affluent class who are trying to buy their way to green salvation - like the Catholic Church selling of indulgences to the rich in the middle ages?

The manufacture of the paper, plastic, and who knows-what chemicals in a disposable diaper pollutes more (ever seen and smelt a river downstream of a paper mill?) and most importantly, produces far more CO2 emissions (and methane emissions when they go to the landfill) than reusing cloth diapers assuming one is doing full laundry loads particularly with a modern HE front-load washer - and line-drying the diapers whenever possible (In winter - always vent your dryer indoors - they make water filled lint traps for this purpose). Of course, at $30.00 a pop, having enough to do a full load is an expensive proposition.


Second, separate comment:

Every time I see another one of Frida Berrigan’s former-radical-daughter-of-a-famous-radical-pacifist-turned-mommy-defending-her-lifestyle article, it elicits deep depression. Nothing excels in de-radicalizing a USAn couple like having kids - its more damaging to a activist organization, in this case the now largely (completely?) abandoned Jonah House in Baltimore, than organizer-burnout.

Frida, have you moved out to far suburbia and bought an SUV for the sake of your kid’s safety yet?

No wonder the reactionary right preaches “family values” so much!


Pathetic. Where is your “deep depression” in response to the gunning down of Black kids, the drone strikes, the carnage ongoing in Haiti, the campus rapes, and so much else. No. Just get upset about Friday Berrigan and try to cast her off as a yuppie whose voice can thereby be silenced.


What are talking about? My depression is over all the poeple who sell-out and give up on all of these important issues when they have babies and get a house in suburbia.


The wastes that you mention are considered:-