Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Disposable kids

This past week I've had to do alot of talking about generation gaps.  My mother and I were discussing the vast changes (improvements?) between when she first became a parent and when I did--the most glaring of which was how disposable today's youth is.  When I first learned I was expecting I did the research about diapers--and was totally committed to the most eco-friendly option.  Surprisingly it turned out to be disposable ones as the start cost, soap, water and energy costs for cloth diapers would have far exceeded both Huggies and my budget.  This is when my mother chimed in that she would've loved to have that option when my brother was born--to my surprise.  I hadn't realized that cloth was the norm until just a few decades ago.  In the span of my mother's parental experience almost everything about raising kids changed--and became more disposable.  Apparently when I came around disposables were new to the scene, and now cloth diapering is viewed as primitive and almost torturous.  But the contrasts go beyond the butt.

I try very hard not to look at people, inventions and thought-processes as lazy, but its very difficult not to when you walk down the baby aisle of any given store and see 'toss n go' flatwear, disposable/one-use bottles and a slue of other products meant for quick on-the-go use and dumping.  Do today's parents even realize what a novelty babywipes are? On top of cloth diapers my mother used wash cloths on my older brother--imagine the laundry that poor woman had to do on an almost daily basis!  So in NO way am I saying all of the innovations geared to babies since his birth are frivolous or wasteful--but some have gone too far, and we should be demanding better.  Need an example?

It's around $1 for a 2oz jar of baby food.  Depending on the child's age (& appetite) they'll eat 1-4  per meal, to a cost of up to $15 a day.  During growth spurts they eat even more.

Money aside, think of all the resources that went into producing just one jar: the electricity, glass, plastic, metal, water, transportation & on and on. Why aren't we demanding larger jars? Jars that could be used for days?  An 8oz jar of carrots would have been a godsend 2 years ago, not just because my boy sucked that down like it was oxygen, it would've saved money, to not have a door -shelf wasted in the fridge for a few tiny jars, & would have saved an incalculable amount of water, energy and resources. And that's just ONE baby item. 

I could go on for days belaboring the point and going through the whole list--but I won't. Instead I'll go back to hand-me-downs (as ranted about in the Donating post from last month.).  In my basement--at this very moment--is stuff from when my nephews were first born--my nephews who are 16 and 7 years old!  For years I've been begging and threatening my brother and his wife to either take them home, sell/donate them, or have me do it for them.  WHY would you just let perfectly good things (clothes, swing, high chair, bouncer etc) just sit there collecting dust when someone else could be using it?  Now I understand the first few years when they weren't sure they wanted another one or not, but once that decision had been made one should have been made about the crap in my basement!  My point mentioning this is the irony that we're buying all these disposable bottles, forks, tiny/over-packaged things for our children and then holding on to the big reusable things long after they are gone... for what?  It's incredibly wasteful, lazy and environmentally irresponsible!  Our hoarding just means we all 'need' bigger houses to store the crap we don't/won't use again--therefore wasting land as well as resources!

*My son flanked by his two older cousins*
My point is that we all want what's best for our kids, we want them to have everything they could ever want and need--but chief of those is a healthy planet they can live on and off of! Our sloth and carelessness is robbing them of that. Most children are up and walking around the age of one--meaning the bouncer, swing, and walker will be seeing no more action, so donate it and give the kid more room to run!! Hell, it's one less thing for you to trip over while chasing them!  The fact of the matter is we're raising these kids on all things disposable: they don't learn the value of things anymore because they get a new phone everytime a new one comes out regardless of if the previous one worked, fastfood & paper plates, while their parents hoard all the things of days gone past.  That glaring disconnect can only spell disaster for the children we work so hard to provide for.  But instead of spoiling/showering them with objects, maybe we should be showering them in values--like "anything worth having is worth working for" and that anything worth having is NOT disposable.

1 comment:

  1. This post makes a lot of sense! I've been wondering for years now why waste is so overlooked. My mom is a nurse and knows the insane waste that goes on in Hospitals. They claim that it's the best way to be sanitary. My mom knows there are more conserving methods that can be used and even more sanitary. Unfortunately, that costs money and energy, which people don't really have a lot of these days. But, like you said, with the right mind-set anything is possible.