Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


July 28, 2009

LION AND THE LAMB: Disposable diapers and the American way of life

Writing in the current issue of "In These Times," Lisa Manterfield offers some startling statistics — about diapers.

It has been more than a half century since my wife and I diapered our four offspring, and times were different then. We used washable cloth diapers; we used a clothesline; we thought that was the way everybody took care of baby sanitation.

Things are different now, and apparently have been different for many years. Now moms and dads install disposable diapers, bought by the  box from Walmart. And the totals add up to a huge number.

Manterfield writes that the average baby will undergo 5000 to 7000 diaper changes in the first two years of life, and that these products of wood fiber and chemicals will be added to the landfills of the nation and spend from 200 to 500 years in decomposing. And "every year 250,000 trees and 3.5 billion gallons of oil go into keeping the bottoms of American babies dry and happy."

As far as I know it may still be possible to buy cloth, washable diapers, and there may still be clotheslines for them to hang out, but it has been a long time since I can recall seeing white rectangles blowing in the breeze on the line. I fear that the disposable variety are here to stay.

Lisa Manterfield goes on to the question of baby overpopulation. She cites the recent story of Nadya Suleman's giving birth to octuplets. She writes of Bob and Michelle Dugger, an Arkansas couple with 18 children. It seems that Michelle Dugger lost her first child in a miscarriage. She reasoned that God was punishing her for using birth control, so she gave up the pill and became pregnant 18 times. As far as we know, she is still fertile.

If one believes that all births are the gift of God, and nobody should interfere with God's creativity, then it would seem that we need not do anything about the fact that this crowded planet is now struggling to bear the weight of 6.2 billion people and heading for a total of 9.7 billion by 2050. The fact remains that God has not only given us the gift of life, but has also enabled us to limit the number of new babies. God has given us the ability to prevent the deaths of our babies so that two or perhaps three births are well able to enable the race to continue.

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