Natural Resources

Save the Planet and Experience Less Crapnel!

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At the tender age of 22, I was sitting at my desk, working diligently on some task for my first real job when an older colleague, who happened to be a new father, walked by. "I invented a new word this morning," he said. "Crapnel. It's a fusion of crap and shrapnel. Think hard before you have kids."

In related news, cloth diapers are bad for the environment, and the government doesn't want you to know about it. The pleasingly labor intensive and disgusting practice of using cloth diapers because they're better for the environment than those awful disposables manufactured in China by multinational corporations turns out to be a big lie.  A government report showing that cloth diapers are bad for the environment was (God forgive me for this) leaked to a newspaper:

greenbaby

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has instructed civil servants not to publicise the conclusions of the £50,000 nappy research project and to adopt a "defensive" stance towards its conclusions….

To reduce the impact of cloth nappies on climate change parents would have to hang wet nappies out to dry all year round, keep them for years for use on younger children, and make sure the water in their washing machines does not exceed 60C. 

All of which sounds like a way to increase possible crapnel incidents.

So obviously, what I'm trying to say here is: OMG! The administration is suppressing science! Especially science about environment! Oh, wait… this was in the U.K.? Whatever.

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  1. Cue joe hissy-fit in 3..2..

  2. What a great opportunity for me to recommend my favorite parenting book, The Poo Bomb.

  3. Only if you wash them between each usage.

    If you don’t wash them, then you don’t fill up the landfills, you don’t consume hot water, you don’t use soap and bleach which leak into the environment and the kids die and don’t grow up to be a threat to the environment.

    It’s win all the way around!!!

    ;P

  4. Shitty problem all around.

  5. “keep them for years for use on younger children”

    ….moving right along

  6. Rimfax,

    Millions of years of evolution, and the little poopers STILL don’t come with instructions.

    What’s up with that?

  7. KMW, could you have more snark? Seriously.

    As for the report, I like how the “leaked” report was “restricted” and the Times couldn’t be bothered posting a link to it.

    In other words absent any other proof: “OMG! The Right Wing Media is out to kill Mother Earth!!”

  8. Neu Mejican for the win.

  9. What kind of a person do you have to be to say to yourself “We have this information about what is true and what is not, I think it best if we don’t let the public know about it.”

  10. What kind of a person do you have to be to say to yourself “We have this information about what is true and what is not, I think it best if we don’t let the public know about it.”

    Duh! A government official.

  11. Their equation must be a mess if they come to the conclusion that plastic is more environmentally friendly than cloth.

    Let’s see here: petroleum product v. cotton, landfill space v. mild sewage, garbage truck fuel v. hot-water heater use.

    The latter seems to win by a big margin in each case Maybe I’m tripping, too.

  12. When I moved into our house, the former inhabitants* had a habit of tossing all the disposable diapers out the nursery window into a hedge about five feet away. What? Did they think that the diapers would decompose overnight or something?

    Wheelbarrow loads full of shitty diapers that had absorbed water till they had become gelatinous masses of shit and snot like goo. A mask, long gloves and booze is how we got through it.

    For that alone, I despise disposable diapers. I mean, I get nauseous just thinking about it.

    As for hand me down cloth diapers, that wasn’t an uncommon thing at all. Especially when you were popping out kids every year or two.

    Diaper free as much as possible. It spares their little rears all that rash anyway.

    *(We had to do a lot of remodeling…what a mess in so many ways.)

  13. matt,

    If cost is used as a proxy of energy usage, then the 2400 dollars for a years disposable diapers compares to 600 dollars for cloth diapers plus washing.

    This would indicate that their numbers are off.

    Add to that the fact that cloth diapers will lead to quicker toilet training.

    “We have this information about what is true and what is not, I think it best if we don’t let the public know about it.”

    Perhaps they knew the report was incomplete, misleading, or just badly done?

    Perhaps.

    I am willing to look at any good studies that make the case for cloth over diaper in terms of carbon footprint.

  14. YOW, capelza, you didn’t check out the premises before buying!!

    No wonder the housing bubble burst!!! 🙂

  15. Our son was allergic to something in disposables. We used clothe on him. It was a bit more work but in our case it was part of having kids. When our daughter was a baby, she was able to use disposable diapers. The cost of them was noticably higher than the savings on utilities so we quit them and went to clothe for her.
    If crapnel is a buzzkill then don’t have kids. It is part of the deal along with projectile vomiting and cursing out loud in church.

  16. What’s with focussing on the most extreme form of cloth diaper use and laundering?

    The report clearly states that by washing on fuller loads, line drying and reusing on future children (all things modern reusable diaper users do already) contribte 40% LESS carbon emissions than disposable diapers. Parents can’t do anything to reduce the enormous carbon emissions from disposable diapers, that’s up to the disposable diaper manufacturers, and ofcourse, is invisible to anyone who buys the plastic things off the shelf at the supermarket.

    It’s common sense.

  17. fydor…we bought this house for it’s view, it’s charm (90 years old at the time) and the price was right…

    The next time I buy I house, I’ll be sure to thoroughly inspect the hedgerow. Silly me, the foundation, the wiring, the roof, etc…I never knew the real trouble lay in the laurel!

    Anyway…disposable diapers are the devils real work… 😛

    And as I never used them, I really resent the ones that do, especially when they leave the little wrapped up used laying around for others to deal with. Take your kid’s shitty diapers with you…

  18. Parents can’t do anything to reduce the enormous carbon emissions from disposable diapers,

    Don’t become parents, and you won’t be part of the problem.

  19. What we need to do is force your neighbors to do clean your dirty diapers — you know, spread the wealth around.

  20. contribte 40% LESS carbon emissions

    Given the evidence that we’re in a cooling cycle now, that’s probably counterproductive.

  21. “would have to hang wet nappies out to dry all year round”

  22. What kind of a person do you have to be to say to yourself “We have this information about what is true and what is not, I think it best if we don’t let the public know about it.”

    Why, a private kind of person.

    Tsk. You vulgar Yanks…

  23. Lucy | October 20, 2008, 7:28pm | #
    The report clearly states that by washing on fuller loads, line drying and reusing on future children (all things modern reusable diaper users do already) contribte 40% LESS carbon emissions than disposable diapers.

    Since the Sunday Times opted not to have a link to said “restricted” report, can you back your assertion with a link to the document please?

  24. From a total environment viewpoint, it would depend on where you live I’d say.

    Arizona, water shortages, disposable.
    Michigan, water everywhere, cloth.

  25. Used both on the children, and cloth has the advantage of getting them uncomfortable over disposables’ tendency to just become more massive with use. But on trips and outings, it was disposables. Trash the Earth or use its water, either way you’re using energy. But with cloth, diapers are used for a shorter time.

    But really, cloth isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have your own washer, if you are squeamish, or if you are too busy to be able to quickly attend to peeing children, then stick to disposables.

    Also, there are two conflicting and equally correct schools of thought regarding the best diapers for newborns. There is “precious skin” versus “my god, they shit often!” and to tell any new parent their wrongness regarding either choice is tantamount to calling their child hellspawn.

  26. is tantamount to calling their child hellspawn.

    Why do you think we refer to them as “cute little devils”?

  27. If it is a mater of efficiency, I find a few pennies worth of latex is cheaper than years worth of diapers.

  28. I can’t believe the British (with their love of canines) are overlooking the obvious solution.

    I’m a new dad, it took my dogs about three days to figure out how to open the Diaper Genie. The nice thing is that the dogs only eat the poopy part. At first I was grossed out, but now I’m over it. The dogs hang around eagerly when it’s feeding time (looking for droppings)….and the dessert course is served about three hours later.

  29. If you can teach the kiddies to eat doggy doo, the circle of life will be complete.

    Hakuna matata

  30. That is the problem with all this eco-math.

    Cloth diapies, you have to figure out all the pollution that went into making it, how much energy would go into cleaning it, and all that.

    Basically its extremely counter intuitive. It’s like how recycling paper is worse than just chucking it. Sometimes letting something rot in the landfill is the best eco-solution.

    But it doesn’t make people feel good.

  31. I wonder if McCain wears disposables or cloth?

  32. I suppose it Depends.

  33. *kwix: Since the Sunday Times opted not to have a link to said “restricted” report, can you back your assertion with a link to the document please?*

    The actual report can be downloaded here:
    http://publications.environment-agency.gov.uk/pdf/SCHO0808BOIR-e-e.pdf

  34. It’s like how recycling paper is worse than just chucking it.

    Except when its not.
    Recycling is generally the right way to go with paper.

  35. The pleasingly labor intensive and disgusting practice of using cloth diapers…

    Um, just curious if KMW has ever used cloth diapers. I’m guessing not, because my wife and I use cloth diapers with our daughter and it’s neither labor-intensive NOR disgusting. And being the good libertarians that we are, we do it for two simple reasons: it’s cheaper than disposables and we think it’s better for our daughter (fewer rashes and she potty-trained sooner). As an added bonus, I get to mock my so-called green friends who are afraid to use disposables, but that’s by no means the motivation. Personally, I don’t care if you want to spend more money on disposables because you’re afraid of a little poop (and, on a side note, you shouldn’t have kids in the first place if you’re afraid of a little poop); I just wanted to throw out my two cents for any other Reason readers who are considering using cloth diapers. It’s incredibly stupid to blindly do something because the greenies tell you to. A close second is blindly opposing something because the greenies support it.

    Oh, and for those concerned about the energy that goes into producing cloth diapers, you’ll be glad to know there’s a strong market in used ones.

  36. Shut up about carbon emissions. Plant some trees. Stop having kids. Problem solved.

  37. then don’t have kids

    Way ahead of you.

  38. a general rule of thumb I go by is that cheaper solutions are usually friendlier to the environment. For example, a standard econobox four-banger car is more green than a Toyota Prius with it’s toxic batteries and dual drivetrain.

  39. One fellow I met was asked whether he had other children besides his son. He answered, “No. Once we figured out was was causing the problem, we knew how to prevent it.”

  40. That’s like saying cloth or disposable tampons. Shall we return to the rag?

  41. Do not read David Rollin’s 8:12 if about to start a bowl of chocolate ice cream.
    You will wind up wasting it.

  42. Cloth diapers don’t produce permanent plastic waste in landfills. Crap washes off and decomposes.

  43. Neu:

    Re: http://www.diaperfreebaby.org

    I uhh, have kids. While I’ve been certainly open to the fact that one might be able to potty train at infancy, having experience with this kind of thing tells me that it’s going to be a major, and I say major hit-and-miss proposal.

    There’s a lot of untapped and not well understood psychology that goes on with tots. My neighbor got their kid potty trained at a super young age– way before mine and I was jealous, then all of a sudden, the kid started #1’ing and #2’ing herself almost as an act of defiance long after ‘successful’ training — according to her mother.

    Let’s just say there were a lot of “We uhh, have to go home, sorry we can’t stay for the second coming but I have to deal with a ‘go-home’ level stain.”

    My guess is that this infant potty training thing that’s been gaining some speed in this country will forever remain a niche thing.

    Joe’s post above is an extremely realistic and reasonable answer to the whole diaper concept.

  44. For example, a standard econobox four-banger car is more green than a Toyota Prius with it’s toxic batteries and dual drivetrain.

    I saw the mileage numbers for a Toyota Scion the other day. Holy cow. The car costs $15g vs $25 for the prius, and gets like 33mpg– within spitting distance of the Prius.

  45. Erh, jon’s post above. Sorry.

  46. My dad loved cloth diapers. He claimed that after three kids the cotton was so soft it was the best thing for polishing the car.

  47. Can we do a survey to determine if there are really more left-wing, eco-friendly, libertarian baiters that hang out here than actual libertarians?

    And do libertarians return the favor? I mean, do antagonistic libertarians frequent whatever message boards that left-wing, eco-friendly, public-education-loving, welfare-state-supporting types favor when they aren’t baiting libertarians?

    If so, I am sorry. That must get really annoying.

  48. sage | October 20, 2008, 8:49pm | #
    I wonder if McCain wears disposables or cloth?

    sage | October 20, 2008, 8:49pm | #
    I suppose it Depends.

    Sage for the strong challenge on the outside post as we head down the stretch!

    the WEIBSKOBOLD shall give you a cookie for that.

  49. Shart is better than crapnel.

  50. I once had to debate this topic in college with the results determined by classmate vote. I crushed it. Fact after fact, irrefutable evidence, passion, humor. No stone was left unturned, no opponent point left disproved.

    I lost.

  51. Another point about this whole “diaper free baby” thing (because we have friends that do it). It’s all well and good for those first five months when you’re used to getting up at a moment’s notice every 2-3 hours overnight, but when your child is trained to do nothing besides whine for your attention when he has to eliminate, it sucks.

    It’s much nicer to wake up after eight hours of uninterrupted sleep to a poopy diaper, than to not sleep at all. Our “diaper free” friends say the next child is getting Pampers.

  52. Paul | October 21, 2008, 1:30am | #
    For example, a standard econobox four-banger car is more green than a Toyota Prius with it’s toxic batteries and dual drivetrain.

    I saw the mileage numbers for a Toyota Scion the other day. Holy cow. The car costs $15g vs $25 for the prius, and gets like 33mpg– within spitting distance of the Prius.

    Well if 25% less efficient is spitting distance. Green vehicle score for the Scion is a decent 6 to 7 against the Prius with a 10.

  53. It’s incredibly stupid to blindly do something because the greenies tell you to. A close second is blindly opposing something because the greenies support it.

    what is this thing you humans call…nuance?

    some of this is part of the pedigree from which people arrive at whatever nexus of minarchism and crankitude gets us all here. since a lot of libertarians come from a conservative origin, there tends to be a lot of GRRR GRRR on the subject, regardless of the actual topic being discussed.

  54. Ah, a day without a snarky, barely-researched, and reflexively anti-anything-leftish Katherine Mangu-Ward post would be like a picnic without ants.

  55. OFF TOPIC
    matt:
    A water heater heats cold water, and makes hot water.
    It is a “hot water maker”, or a “cold water heater”, or as I like to call it, just “a water heater”.
    A hot-water heater would be a steam maker.
    /OFF TOPIC

  56. A water heater heats cold water, and makes hot water.
    It is a “hot water maker”, or a “cold water heater”, or as I like to call it, just “a water heater”.
    A hot-water heater would be a steam maker.

    Huh? Steam maker? Is that anything like a boiler?

  57. David Rollins | October 21, 2008, 9:22am | #
    Another point about this whole “diaper free baby” thing (because we have friends that do it). It’s all well and good for those first five months when you’re used to getting up at a moment’s notice every 2-3 hours overnight, but when your child is trained to do nothing besides whine for your attention when he has to eliminate, it sucks.

    It’s much nicer to wake up after eight hours of uninterrupted sleep to a poopy diaper, than to not sleep at all. Our “diaper free” friends say the next child is getting Pampers.

    There is no rule that says you can’t do both.
    Diaper free days…diaper at night.

    The world is not black and white.

  58. Can we do a survey to determine if there are really more left-wing, eco-friendly, libertarian baiters that hang out here than actual libertarians?

    And do libertarians return the favor? I mean,

    In fact, there are no real libertarians here. They are all the baiting leftists. The real libertarians are hanging out on the leftist sites.

  59. I’m a CD’ing mom to 2 toddlers, and another 1 due this spring. Cloth is much better: for the environment, for your budget, and for babies’ health. Unless your buying all natural disposables from Whole Foods or online, your Pampers are loaded with chemicals and bleached with Chlorine, and they’ll still be in that landfill 50 years later. Bad for baby’s bum and bad for the environment! Cloth is super cheap- I’m sewing my newborn’s “stash” from recycled materials from Goodwill: cotton t-shirts, soft flannel sheets, and wool sweaters (all natural fibers, too!). Reusing cloth is practical- good cloth diapers will last through 2-3 children before they start to wear out!

  60. The problem with cotton diapers is they stink up your house – a vague piss and shit smell if I remember correctly. What, you say they don’t? Bullshit, they do. Just cuz nobody ever says anything doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking WTF when they walk in your house. While I’m on the subject of things some people don’t think others smell…That cat litter box stinks too. And when you are not home, Fluffy is wiping his ass and turd-burying paws on your kitchen counter tops. (Notice my handle isn’t bigbigcatlover?)

    It will be a cold day in hell when I put a load of feces in the same washing machine I wash my non-urine and non-feces soaked clothes in. It would be an even colder day when I do it with cold water and/or a minimal or standard amount of detergent. I’d have to go double.

    Line drying I’ll do, and did do for years. Not because I cared about the planet or anything, but because my dryer was broken and I was too lazy to fix it yet too cheap to pay somebody else to do it.

    (done ranting like an old man now)

  61. well done with the debunking of the cloth-nappy trend. Which i’m sure proggy young parents will cite when asked to defend their choice of infant undergarment–well, actually, not so fast. Get a candid interview with an intentional cloth nappie user (not like my childhood, when not-appropo-conversation-in-a-Trader Joe’s poverty forced the issue) and they’ll probably cite the environment but it’s much more likely that their primary reason for going cloth is because their friends are doing it too.

    Any of you smart asses have parents who couldn’t afford disposable diapers when you were a child? no? aw, how cute. let’s bash the progs instead (rightfully for citing the environment, rightfully for hubris, for group-think but not for minimizing cost in the face of competing needs).

  62. As a father of two who uses reusable nappies, the equation is pretty simple.

    Wash in full loads
    At temperatures of 60 or below, plenty hot enough for dealing with nappies…who boil washes these days!
    Line dry when possible, at least 6 months of the year if not more, and when not possible, on a laundry airer in the house.

    If you do these things you have a more positive impact on global warming than disposables. If you use them on subsequent children, even more impact. Add to that they save a lot of money when compared and it’ a fairly simple debate. That’s without even considering the net benefit of the landfill saving that each washable used has over a disposable. Regards the government hushing it up…well the Whitehall Editor at the Times couldn’t have got it more wrong, the reason they don’t want it publicised is it shows the previous report to be flawed and therefore the decision to stop funding such campaigns promoting nappies was premature.

    If you would like to discuss then please do contact me and I would be delighted to put you straight. More info from: http://www.realnappycampaign.com

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