May 2008 Editor's Perspective

The Diaper Genie Doesn’t Lie

In April, the National Geographic Channel kicked off its Earth Day programming with the airing of a very enlightening two-hour program called “The Human Footprint,” in which it showed-in the most literal way-just how much Americans consume over the course of a lifetime. From cans of soda to loaves of bread, to the total number of showers that we will take, it was incredibly sobering, to say the least. And to further demonstrate just how much water we really use, 28,433 rubber duckies were spread out on the ground, illustrating the number of showers taken in an average lifespan.

One of the most eye-opening segments of the program was when host Elizabeth Vargas talked about what an American baby consumes. According to NGC, a baby in the U.S., will wear 3,796 diapers during his or her first years of life. By my calculations, I believe my 11-month-old daughter could easily surpass that number. Of course, that’s not something you want to brag about or print on a bumper sticker.

As I was listening to those numbers, I looked over at my loyal Diaper Genie sitting in the corner and thought to myself, “What if I opened that receptacle right now and pulled out one long, continuous strand of plastic bag that held every diaper I had ever used on her? I’ll bet I could circle my neighborhood at least twice. And if that wasn’t enough, those immortal words of the older generation began buzzing in my head saying, “If cloth diapers were good enough for me, then…” Well, you get the picture.

Yet, NGC made the argument that to launder those 3,796 diapers, it would require nearly 22,455 gallons of water. What’s my solution? I could either send her to the ultra-advanced school of potty training or seriously consider using environment-friendly diapers. Now I ask you: is there really anything friendly about baby waste?

All joking aside, we could all use a reality check when it comes to the environment. This month, Electronic Retailer features Discovery Communications’ Planet Green, a new eco-lifestyle network set to debut on June 4. Planet Green is offering a full line of original programming, which includes a 13-episode documentary called “Greensburg” that chronicles how one Kansas community is bouncing back after a horrific tornado leveled the town. What makes Greensburg and its townspeople so unique is that they decided to rebuild in a green and sustainable way. Actor/environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio and his production company, Appian Way, signed on as an executive producer, along with Pilgrim Films & Television.Planet Green production crews stayed in Greensburg for several weeks filming the reconstruction process from the perspective of those who live and work in the town.

Viewers will not only learn how Greensburg decided to go green, but hopefully become more educated about the environment-friendly options available to them such as energy-efficient windows or flooring made from recycled materials.

The obvious lesson is that if an entire town can make the collective decision to be more environmentally responsible, shouldn’t we as individuals make the decision to do our part? Of course, I’m not suggesting that we all tear down our homes and start from scratch. I’m merely pointing out that if we at least do one thing to save energy or to reduce unnecessary consumption, then we all become part of the solution rather than problem. After all, the Diaper Genie doesn’t lie.

Vitisia Paynich


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