Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why Cloth Diapers Have Made Me Greener

Reader Contributed Article by Amanda Metro

A long time ago, my aunt told me about the benefits of using vinegar in the laundry.  I brushed off the advice because I was happy with my detergent at the time (and childless, and unmarried) and I didn’t need to remove any ‘detergent residue’ from my clothes. When I made the switch from disposables to cloth diapers, I revisited the idea of vinegar when someone suggested I add it to my diaper routine. That was just the beginning.

It started with the vinegar. I added some to the rinse cycle of my diapers and it really works for us. Then I started adding it to the rinse of all our other clothes and loved how fresh they became. I began looking up all the other uses for vinegar and I was amazed at how versatile this simple substance can be. I used it to clean my washing machine, I combined it with water to clean windows and glass, added it to baking soda for scrubbing stainless steel, and eventually filled a spray bottle with it and called it my all-purpose cleaner.

Now that my house smelled like vinegar, I had to get out of it more often. Therefore, I took my reusable shopping bags to the store! Most of the time, I would forget them at the house or forget them in the car, but gradually it became more of a habit to take them with me as I was leaving. Now, if I forget my bags when I go to the store, I bag with paper so that I can throw my recyclables in them at home. I actually enjoy carrying my reusable bags around, partially because some of them have pretty patterns. This got me thinking…

Around the holidays, I started reading about how many people are turning to reusable, cloth gift bags instead of wrapping paper to present their gifts. What a great idea! I could make one for each of my children that Santa could fill every year and I could make more to give away! And while I was at it, why not make all of my gifts? I baked cookies, made jam, baked dog biscuits, blended a lavender bath salt scrub and sewed a couple of plush ducks for my children. Not only did I minimize waste and impact on the environment, I put time and effort into the gifts I gave instead of just picking something off a shelf.

After making so much stuff at Christmas, I dove even further into cooking by making my own pastas, pierogies and broths. Then I started using old burp cloths to do my kitchen cleaning and some of my excess of cloth wipes to clean my children’s hands and faces instead of using paper towels. I even up-cycle old clothes and other items I no longer find useful. In short, my attitudes have changed a lot since I started cloth diapering. I want to be a better, more environmentally conscious person to provide a positive example for my children. It’s amazing how one change can initiate a chain reaction that can alter a person’s entire life.

Amanda is passionate about natural parenting and green living. She enjoys chasing after her two daughters, cooking, sewing, writing and gardening. In her spare time,  she volunteers as an articles editor for Natural Parents Network. Her blog, "Let's Take the Metro," is about as diverse as it could be. 

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