Caring for the environment is not always easy. Sometimes you find yourself in ethical conundrums like paper vs. plastic, taking a bus vs. riding a bike, disposable diapers vs. cloth diapers, and the list goes on. When I first started treading the path of eco/social consciousness, I found myself so frustrated by not knowing which option was best that I would be frozen- not knowing which choice is better. You try to give your all but sometimes feel like what you’re giving or doing is just not enough.
Since Urbndervish and I crossed paths, we’ve discussed and examined our choices together. Together, with time and maturity, we’re learning to balance our idealism and practicality. What those of you on a similar path may find is that your personal growth will allow you to transcend some of these debatable issues that are not always black and white. For example, drop the whole paper vs. plastic debate by carrying tote bags with you when you shop. And, if you forget your cute, reusable tote, don’t beat yourself up! Reuse the plastic bag as a trash bag at home or reuse the paper bag as gift wrapping for Eid gifts. With a little creativity, we can create all kinds of alternatives that work for us- pushing us a little bit out of comfort zones but not losing ourselves in the process.
Some choices need to be made by trial and error. A simple scientific process. For example, when Urbndervish and I married, I was committed to using eco-friendly laundry detergents. After a few washes, Urbndervish admitted that the clothes don’t look, feel, or smell clean using the “hippy stuff”. I was in denial at first but it was apparent that the objective was clearly not being met. Therefore, we went back to using conventional detergents but use less of it by adding white vinegar to our wash. We don’t use bleach or fabric softeners, because white vinegar can brighten clothes when used in the wash cycle and can soften clothes when used in the rinse cycle. We also mop with white vinegar and you can find many more uses for this non-toxic cleaning alternative here. I’m sure that there are better eco-detergents on the market now, but this is where we’re at for now.
Trying to incorporate our love for the planet into our parenting approach, we planned to cloth diaper exclusively. When we first returned home from the hospital, we found it easiest to use disposable diapers until I recovered and we rested. After a week or so, we started using our cloth diapers exclusively but discovered that if we don’t change Lil’ Z every 2-3 hours, the entire diaper becomes soaked and sometimes her clothes become soiled too. So, currently we use cloth diapers when we’re at home, during the day, and disposables at night so we don’t have to bother waking her up in the night for diaper changes. I had some guilt at first because “alternative” parenting can become a barrage of labels- “Baby Wearer”, “Cloth Diaperer”, “Co-Sleeper”, “Unschooler”, etc. and this can make you feel deficient when you can’t wear one of those lables wholeheartedly. However, we try to remind ourselves that all of our choices and actions are not about belonging to any club or trying to define ourselves and identity by bumper stickers and slogans. Our goal is to tread a sincere and authentic path in hopes of pleasing Allah (God) and fulfilling our responsibility to the Creator and the creation.
For those of you considering cloth diapering yourself, here’s a study shared with me by one of my dearest friends. If you’re not into reading LCAs (Life Cycle Assessments), I’ll sum up the study for you. The best diapering option from a cradle to grave analysis is to cloth diaper and line dry AND reuse your cloth diapers for subsequent children. If you use a drying machine to dry your cloth diapers, this has a greater environmental impact than using disposable diapers. The study includes other parameters, so if you’re not daunted by this kind of stuff, it’s an interesting read. However, our goal, insha’Allah (God willing), is to transcend the whole cloth vs. disposable debate by practicing Elimination Communication, also known as Infant Potty Training. Crazy? Maybe but worth a try. More on that later, insha’Allah.
To conclude, here’s a little anecdote to brighten your day. One of Urbndervish’s colleagues asked him if we bought a crib yet (prior to Lil’ Z’s arrival) and he told her that we plan to co-sleep (i.e. Lil’ Z sleeps in the big bed with us). She retorted, “And you guys are vegan? Where are you from, Berkeley? What kind of hippy Muslims are you?” Urbndervish replied, “We’re not hippy Muslims. We’re Raggamuslims.” Her reply? “Nice. I like that.”