Sunday, February 3, 2008

Rant: Going green with the Tribune?

We all know how warm and fuzzy my insides feel when I think about cloth diapers. I also get the same cozy feelings when I pick up the Chicago Tribune and read its normally well-written, interesting stories. You can imagine my excitement today when I picked up the Home and Garden section and found babies clad in Fuzzi Bunz cloth diapers. The picture corresponded with the article How green is my baby? The reporter penning the story wrote about her attempt at becoming a more ecologically minded parent. I had high hopes for this story! Unfortunately, my hopes were deflated before I even read beyond the caption for the picture. The caption listed the brand of cloth diaper and said something along the lines of it being too hard to launder.
Wait a second ... what???
Oh, Chicago Tribune, how could you be so, well, wrong?
What did this woman mean when she said it was too hard to wash the cloth diapers? Did she have to hike up a mountainside, forge a river and find a gentle stream in which she could dunk and scrub the diaper on a washing board with a bar of soap? Too hard to clean? How hard is it to simply flip the poop into the toilet, which you are supposed to do with disposable diapers, too, and then put the diaper into the diaper pail to await washing in an automatic machine? Did she get stuck at the part where you have to pull knob on the washing machine that activates the water flow or was the part where she had to dump in some detergent the killer? How does this woman wash her underwear or any of her other clothes, for that matter, if it's just too hard to wash cloth diapers?
Do I sound a little harsh and maybe a tad angered by this article? You bet! As a writer for the Chicago Tribune, she needed to have her facts straight because she was not just writing a post card to mom and pop here about her cloth diapering experiences. Reporters who pen stories for the Trib have the potential to reach and sway millions of readers. (And let's face the facts, many readers don't make it much past the picture, caption and first few paragraphs, so to say that cloth diapers are just too hard to clean in the caption, doesn't do much to help people get on board and turn a new, green leaf.
I also have to say the statement is horribly untrue. If you can work a washing machine, you can easily launder cloth diapers. There are no secret voodoo chants one must learn to get the diapers clean. Simply cold wash/rinse cycle, hot wash with detergent/cold rinse cycle and rinse one more time with your water temperature of choice. You either can then pop those bad boys in the dryer or hang them on the line. Washing one load of diapers takes less energy than washing two regular loads of clothes. My husband can even do it, which speaks wonders to the relative ease of washing dipes.
The reporter also mentioned that she almost forgot her baby had been wearing cloth diapers until she smelled poop. Hmmm. I've used disposables, and I can smell baby poop through them, too. And wait a second! You are supposed to be able to smell the poop so you can immediately change the diaper. Diapers are supposed to be poop and pee catchers not poop and pee holders meaning one diaper should not be left on poor baby only to collect more and more poop and pee.
My last qualm (or at least the last one I have time to write about) with this article is that the reporter advocated that we all should use less plastic by buying wooden toys or steel, reusable water bottles. She said this, of course, after she announced she would continue using disposables except for maybe on the weekends because she was a modern woman. Disposables are made from you guessed it, plastic. (Oh, and one cup of crude oil per diaper and at least one high-level carcinogen. Does that sound like something that should be pressed against baby's butt for two years of life?) Someone did not do her homework as to why disposables are not green beyond saying that they take up room in landfills. Well, we didn't need to read an article to understand that disposables (hences the name) are not green because they sit in landfills after use. Readers needed a little more information to chew on as to why they should make the switch if they hadn't already decided it was too hard to clean the diapers.
Tsk, tsk, Chicago Tribune. As a very respected, well-read paper, you should have done your homework and better checked your information; it's your duty.

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