Saturday, March 13, 2010

Poor Motives

I have been suffering random stabs of (mental) pain ever since we switched from cloth diapers to disposables. This isn't because I'm consumed with guilt over our affect on the environment; I'm not convinced one way or the other about the environmental issue. It isn't because of the increase in cost; through happenstance (I complained about a product and got a big refund) and luck finding some great deals, we've actually saved money using disposables so far, when you consider the cloth diapers I sold off, the savings on detergent, and the reduction in our electric and water bills. I know that probably won't continue, although since I can redeem our RecycleBank points for $5 off Huggies coupons, disposables could end up costing us little more than cloth. It isn't because I prefer using the cloth, I'm really enjoying not having to think about washing or worrying about carting wet diapers back home when we're out and about. No, I'm suffering these stabs of pain because now that we're using disposable diapers, we're just like everyone else. I've found myself perusing the websites of the various "eco-friendly" disposable diapers and comparing their virtues and prices, not because I am convinced that they would have any different environmental impact than standard disposables, but because if we used them I could at least regain some of that subtle feeling of superiority that I now realize was one of my primary motivators for using cloth diapers in the first place.

Now I'm stepping back and looking at all the "different" choices we make and wondering -- when I do things differently from the norm, how often is it because I really think what we're doing is better, and how often is it because I just want to be different?


  1. Very good post. I never mentioned it, but I too felt a bit of the "superiority complex" in myself when I used cloth diapers, and even now with other lifestyle practices, such as buying organic (which isn't often because DH doesn't buy in to it's "proven" superiority!). Just wanted you to know you're not alone. I always kept sposies on hand and used them occasionally. There was about a month straight that we used them not long before Reagan potty-learned. Gosh it was so much nicer than washing all the time. I still loved the cloth, but sposies made my life just a little bit easier. I know I didn't save money using cloth, so I can't use that as a reason for why I used it, though that was the main reason when I first started. I continued using cloth because I believed (and still do) that they're better for the environment, and for the skin, although Reagan has very rarely had a skin issue. They just had a foul odor...that gel that's in them. But I also LOVED feeling "unique" and "different" when I used them. I enjoyed being asked about them. Why? So strange.

  2. My original reasons for cloth were based on saving money, but that only held true if I actually didn't buy more of them. Instead, I tended to buy a system, use it for a while, get frustrated with some of the various issues involved in it, and then buy something else. Balancing convenience, trimness and performance was always an issue for me, plus handling the laundry merry-go-round, trying to find something that cleaned and left the diapers odor free without causing build up. Disposables are just more straight forward to us. Their cons are that some give me migraines, particularly Pampers and Luvs. So yeah, I have reasons to use cloth, but I'm pretty disgusted to realize how much of my motivation was this sense of superiority.

  3. It can be a little distressing to realize how much of your own behavior (and everyone else's) is about "being special" or otherwise making yourself seem more important to the people you want to impress.

    I wouldn't feel too bad about this, though. It's everyone.

    There's a blog I read called Overcoming Bias. Taking ordinary human behavior and laying it out on the dissection tray is a common theme there. You might find it interesting.


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