Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cloth Diapers Can Save The World! (Flats and Handwashing: Day 3)

What do George Orwell (author of 1984, Animal Farm and other satires) and I have in common? We both like to write (although in completely different styles) and we both believe that cloth diapers can save the world!

Ok, I know that sounds like a pretty grandiose claim (but I caught your attention, didn't I?). Let me explain how I believe this is all possible. Today's post for the Flats and Handwashing Challenge is going to take a step away from the logistics of it and talk about the beauty of cloth diapering!

Orwell's Prespective

First, let me give you a bit of background. Winston Smith lives in a society where everything is messed up. Truth has been confused and conflated. Morals and ideals have been changed and the government is in complete control of everything. At this point in the story, Winston is seeking to fight against the system. He is doing many things in secret. He has been renting a room so he can have more privacy to think and do what he wants to think and do. Although he is an average middle class citizen, this room is in the part of town where the lower class people, or Proles, live. Every time he goes to this room, there is a woman outside the window cleaning and hanging diapers out to dry (this was written in 1948, disposables weren't even a viable option then). This is the part where he has a big paradigm shift:
     Tirelessly the woman marched to and fro, corking and uncorking herself, singing and falling silent, and pegging out more diapers, and more and yet more. He wondered whether she took in washing for a living or was merely the slave of twenty or thirty grandchildren.... As he looked at the woman in her characteristic attitude, her thick arms reaching up for the line, her powerful mare-like buttocks protruded, it struck him for the first time that she was beautiful. It had never before occurred to him that the body of a woman of fifty, blown up to monstrous dimensions by childbearing, then hardened, roughened by work till it was coarse in the grain like an over-ripe turnip, could be beautiful. But it was so, and after all, he thought, why not? The solid, contourless body, like a block of granite, and the rasping red skin, bore the same relation to the body of a girl as the rose-hip to the rose. Why should the fruit be held inferior to the flower?
    'She's beautiful,' he murmured.
    'She's a metre across the hips, easily,' said Julia.
    'That is her style of beauty,' said Winston.

    She had had her momentary flowering, a year, perhaps, of wild-rose beauty and then she had suddenly swollen like a fertilized fruit and grown hard and red and coarse, and then her life had been laundering, scrubbing, darning, cooking, sweeping, polishing, mending, scrubbing, laundering, first for children, then for grandchildren, over thirty unbroken years. At the end of it she was still singing. The mystical reverence that he felt for her was somehow mixed up with the aspect of the pale, cloudless sky, stretching away behind the chimney-pots into interminable distance. 
George Orwell: 1984, chapter 10
At this point he realizes that hope doesn't lie with the people like him that are "in the know". Hope lies with the Proles, the people that have a simple, basic life without the complications of a higher society. And he chooses a woman hanging diapers to dry to represent that whole segment of society. I love it!

I Can Make That Myself

I remember, as a kid, we would go shopping and I would see some cute little knick-knack or useful tool and think "We need that!". Often my mom would look at it and say "I could make that." We rarely ever did make any of the things from the store, but the message was still there. "I could make that, and probably improve upon it, why should I spend so much money when I don't even need it in the first place?" 

Occasionally we would make our own things. Not just food, but other stuff. We would put up fences, build a goat/chicken shed and paint our own house. Why pay extra money for a simple task that can also serve as a lesson to children about industry and hard work?

This is something I love about cloth diapers, and flats specifically. I can't make my own disposable diapers. I don't have access to the fancy chemicals and equipment. But on Monday night, I saw a picture of an airplane fold and a few minutes later I had done it and had it on my baby to keep him covered for the night! I don't know how to make the fabric and cloth myself, but I can fold the diaper and have my needs met simply.

Why I Embrace Simplicity

I'm not saying I hate technology and modern conveniences. After this week is over, I'll return to using my machines to do the wash (although I think I get things cleaner this week!). But there is something to be said for taking a step away from all the things we think are essential and realizing maybe that isn't the case. Maybe I don't really need everything I think I do.

Sometimes it is nice to take a step back and see things from a different perspective. I rarely go to the store, so when I do it is a stark contrast to staying home or enjoying walks outside. The busyness, stress and strife is so thick there! 

I haven't had a dishwasher in almost a year, and while I would really enjoy having one, it hasn't been that big of a sacrifice. This week I haven't had to plan my days around rotating laundry. A few minutes in the morning and a few at night has done the job (maybe 1/2 hour total). 

It has been really nice to take a week for reflection. There are plenty of things I would change if I did this full time instead of just a week (I'l write about that tomorrow), but for this week, I am really enjoying the chance to step away from modern conveninces and enjoy life and the time for introspection. I saw one mom on facebook that said there was something very Zen about hand washing. I agree.

So How Can That Save The World?

The diapers themselves probably won't save the world (although they can help save the environment and would make great trauma bandages in an emergency). But the realization that we don't need so much stuff can. We should be grateful for the conveniences that we do have and realize that we can do great things without a lot of money or resources. We need to remember that at the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of our lives, we can still be singing because the reasons to sing don't lie in modern conveniences.

My diapers aren't drying on a clothesline, but I still like to sing as I wash. :)

Other posts from the Flats and Handwashing Challenge 2013: 

I'm sharing this on Thank your Body Thursday!

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