The Down and Dirty of It: Rebranding Cloth Diapers, Menstrual Products, and Toilet Paper

Come on, now. You don’t want to talk about it? Why not? It’s not polite? Well then. I have a four-year-old. I can talk toilet with the best of them.

I just finished writing a short “how to” book about cloth diapering. Our daughter was in cloth diapers for most of her babyhood, when she wasn’t learning how to use the potty. You see, we also practiced elimination communication or infant potty training, which means that we watched for her bathroom cues and took her to the toilet from babyhood. This involved a fair number of accidents, but eventually everyone got the hang of it.

Even babies understand when they need to go, and they’re not disgusted by it either. But as we grow older, we learn that some things are private, and what happens below the belt tends to fall into that category. We don’t want to talk about it. We certainly don’t want to interact with anything down there if we don’t have to. We’ll buy manure to place on our vegetable gardens, but when it comes to the bodily excretions of ourselves and our families, we say no way, no how.

It may be due to my background in gardening and environmental education as well as my status as a mom, but poop and blood don’t scare me. Sure, I don’t want to interact with them all day, but they aren’t going to hurt me. I’ll even talk about them. See?

Excretions and secretions are just plain disgusting to many people. Cloth diapers? No way, I’m not putting baby poo in the laundry. Cloth menstrual products and cups fall into this category as well. I’ve been using both for almost fifteen years, yet I still can’t chat with my mother about this. Not that the topic comes up much. The recent trend towards family cloth, or reusable toilet cloth bears mentioning too. Bring it up at the next party you go to and watch most people back slowly into the corner.

In these times of transition, we need to start questioning some of the barriers that we have. This includes questioning our use of disposable products that are created with new materials, use energy in their creation, require energy to dispose of, and create waste when disposed. Many disposable diapers, menstrual products, and toilet paper products are made out of trees that are bleached heavily with chlorine. We use them once, then they are burned or buried. In North America, the average woman will create 300 pounds of waste just from menstrual products alone.

Do we really, truly need to throw something out just because it contains bodily waste? Or can we stride forward with a brave face, put what needs to go into the toilet into the appropriate receptacle, and wash it?

I am a firm believer that promoting, discussing, and gradually using cloth and other reusable products will gradually make them socially acceptable. Maybe not cocktail-party fodder, to be sure, but an acceptable part of everyday society. We’ll stand up and be proud in our Diva cups and cloth pantyliners, toting cloth-bottomed baby, and say to the world that we’re not afraid of getting a little down and dirty. It’s all right, we can handle it.

Posted in Natural Living.

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