Do you ever find yourself in the middle of strange conversations? I was in a group of grandmothers debating the virtues of cloth versus disposable diapers. Presumably one of the grandmothers’ friends was sewing diaper covers for a baby-to-be and asked me about what is in the diaper liners. “Beats me,” I said, and that question sent me on a goose chase of information about human waste and landfills. I was intrigued by this article written by an environmnental professor at Dartmouth http://www.sustainabilityinstitute.org/dhm_archive/index.php?display_article=vn321diapersed My perception is that although both disposable and cloth diapers are energy intensive in diffferent ways, the use of cloth diapers puts the waste back into the water treatment system (municipal or septic), not in the landfill to potentially seep into our water supply. That seems more environmentally friendly to me. I mean what are we going to do, make the baby stop? It also points to the benefit of early potty training! However, that is another subject entirely!
Then the lunch conversation changed to pet poo – yes it was lunch – sorry. I hadn’t thought deeply about this issue before either. If we were in a public area, we used to collect Poochy’s treasures in a plastic bag, and deposit it in the nearest garbage can after the walk. It went to the landfill, probably seeped into the water supply along with the myriad unsavory things I can’t mention here. Well, maybe I could, I AM talking about excrement . . . anyway. I actually thought that leaving it on the ground was better because the soil & plants could use it, until I learned that stormwater washes it off of our mowed landscapes and directly into the streams and rivers, bypassing any filtration possibilities. I paused long enough to wonder if flushing was a better place to deposit the doggy doo, too, since that goes into treatment. I wonder if there is water quality testing near dog parks? What do they do to prevent contaminated runoff?
I made my contribution to the landfills in two different counties when my children were of diaper ages. Sorry, future grandchildren, I didn’t know the diapers would still be there when you were born! It is these strange conversations that help me stay conscious of how my everyday decisions impact the earth as well as my human and creature companions.
If we think of waste as a resource, then what are the possiblities? Bet you hadn’t thought of THAT before!