Wednesday, October 12, 2005

learn 'em right

In the referenced article in the previous post, it was noted among other shortages that plastic diaper liners will be in short supply.

Will the result be a carpet apocalypse, with piles of malformed infant poo strewn across the houses of America from sea to shining sea?

Nah.

Ancient, occult wisdom of our elders will shortly be revealed. No Koolaid required.

Dare to Bare
As an anthropologist, I know that this idea is nothing new. Most babies and toddlers around the world, and throughout human history, have never worn diapers. For instance, in places like China, India and Kenya, children wear split pants or run around naked from the waist down. When it's clear that they have to go, they can squat or be held over the right hole in a matter of seconds.

Parents and caretakers in these cultures see diapers as not the best, but the worst alternative. Why bind bulky cloth around a small child? Why use a disposable diaper that keeps buckets of urine next to tender skin?

The trick is that infants in these cultures are always physically entwined with a parent or someone else, and "elimination communication" is the norm. With bare bottoms, they ride on the hip or back and it's easy to feel when they need to go. The result is no diaper rash, no washing cloth diapers, no clogging the landfill with disposables, no frustrating struggle in the bathroom with a furious 2-year-old.

Our future is shaping up to require more care and effort by people to live within their environment in a sustainable way. Less thoughtless consumerism, more work. But in some cases, more work up front means a way, way less down the road.

The biggest short term obstacle to something like this gaining acceptance in my country (U.S.A.) is puritan cracker culture, also known as the "mainstream".

Let it not be unsaid -- avoiding diapers is organic.

4 Comments:

At 11:46 PM, October 12, 2005, Blogger UNplanner said...

Call me lazy or dependent, but this one aspect of petrocivilization is something that I depend on. Unless civilization lurches into peak-opo-lypse in the next 9-12 mos, disposable diapers will continue to play a role in the UNplanner household.

 
At 1:06 AM, October 13, 2005, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

Well, I suspect I am in the same boat as you -- our little munchkin is pretty well adapted to plastique.

And the cultural constraints are real. In North American culture, naked baby butts and public breast feeding are almost equated to child pornography.

 
At 2:48 PM, October 14, 2005, Blogger James Moe said...

Not that I have children, but I'll weigh against the diaper-less baby idea, regardless.

Cultural contraints are less important than the cultural impact. Mothers would get the shaft, having to spend all their time tending to piddling infants. The return of June Cleaver - society would quickly repair all those shattered glass ceilings.

Cloth diapers are an alternative, but not a good one from a children's health perspective.

I suppose the first world is stuck with Pampers. Maybe Kimberly-Clark can design high tech Huggies that recycle baby doo-doo into the renewable fuel of the future (imagine the smell).

 
At 11:51 AM, October 15, 2005, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

James, there is more ammo for your position here:

http://www.slate.com/id/2128061/nav/tap1/

The new-old method certainly takes more effort, in the early years.

I believe there is a possibility that choices like this will in the future be enforced by depletion -- there will be less disposable diapers to go around.

This will affect the poorest first.

 

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