Domestic stuff

Domestic story coming up, would apologise but, hey…
Joni modelling cloth nappyThere are a lot of good reasons for using cloth nappies over disposables, price being one; here’s a few more…

  • 4 % of the world’s domestic waste is disposable nappies.
  • Every disposable nappy that has ever existed still does.
  • If William the Conquerer had introduced disposable nappies in 1066, estimates suggest that the first ones would be decomposing sometime now.
  • Disposable nappies are made from petroleum by-products.
    – We assume that disposable nappies are safe for babies. Assume is all we can do, because by and large the long-term research hasn’t been done.
  • Most disposable nappies are made by organisations who I would rather not give my money to; if I would not do certain things in my personal life, then it seems hypocritical to pay a corporation to do essentially the same things on my behalf.

When I made this clear decision several years ago, I hadn’t figured that I would be giving birth in Argentina. Ho hum.

Searching UK websites for “cloth nappies” brings 305,000 hits, increasing daily… cloth nappies have made a real come-back in the UK.
Searching Argentinian websites for same brings a handful of hits, mostly well out of date. The one interesting thing I found out was that there had been a real attempt to re-establish cloth nappies during the 2001 economic crisis, when the cost of disposables had gone up 150% in six months, but even in those circumstances, the attempt was unsuccessful. I haven’t got my head round this really, but the sociology of it does interest me.

The one drawback of cloth nappies is the inconvenience of having to wash the things. It has been suggested that the reason for their lack of popularity here is therefore related to higher rates of poverty and therefore lower rates of washing-machine ownership. Except for three things… One, most people in reasonably paid employment do have washing machines, which isn’t everyone, but there are probably still several million washing machines in regular use here…. Two, the last economic crisis is credited with decimating the middle class, the very people most likely to own such commodities; stories abound of people who found that their fur coats were worthless when they couldn’t afford to buy food…. Three, the owners of the posh 4x4s towing jet-skis who overtake us on the motorway not only own state of the art appliances, but they also pay other people to load and unload their washing machines for them… inconvenience factor eliminated completely. So, I don’t know what the real issue is, and in any case it didn’t solve my problem.

So, I ordered some stuff from the UK, and got a friend to export it by post. Except that the post here isn’t that good either, thus only some of it arrived; enough to keep us going as long as we did the washing every day, a regime that was never going to last very long. So then I made some. That was arduous. My sewing teacher at school used to say “haven’t you got a violin lesson to go to?” on the rare occasions that I showed up to her class. I made a few. And I ordered some more waterproof wraps from England which actually arrived. And then, I received an email introducing me to a lady near the city of Buenos Aires, who, having made cloth nappies for her own baby, is now beginning to produce them commercially in a micro-enterprise sort of way. So I arranged to go and meet her last week while we were in BA.

Picture hot sweaty city bus full of hot sweaty standing passengers. Stops every two blocks. The trip takes three hours each way, and we saw the first blade of grass at the two hour mark. At the other end I found a rather cool alternative community, people building their own houses out of wattle and daub, growing vegetables in a communal garden, wrapping their babies in home-made nappies… Marvellous. So I bought a batch of those, and a couple more waterproof wraps for good measure.

Meanwhile, the outstanding original consignment from England also arrived through the post having taken a round-the-world mystery tour. So now we have nappies and waterproof covers in a full range of shapes, sizes, colours and designs. Personally I’m happy with the ones made here by Marcela, and now I know where to go when we need more. And through the contact that we made, she has now received an invitation to sell them through a shop in La Plata, and we are also advertising them in San Marcos, a local magnet for hippies and “alternative” types. Not sure Billy Graham would think that’s a good result for a day’s work, but my standards are a bit lower and I count it as a small victory.

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