When the city cares about my baby's diapers
Becoming a parent in the Canton of Zug is quite a smooth process, and a lot is taken care of by the various stakeholders involved throughout pregnancy, birth and post-natal care (as long as you like, and are good at managing paperwork). I could talk long about the amazing, existing services ensuring that your physical and mental health as a new mother is taken care of: to summarize it all, you are never alone and can always ask for help.
In order to welcome your little one into the community, you first receive from the clinic a big box full of random crap. Unlike the traditional Finnish maternity package that helps you welcome and take care of your baby over the first year of life, the Swiss maternity box is comprised of a lot of information and random vouchers, for instance if you want to already open a bank account for your baby, and a good amount of samples of baby lotions and other things that, from experience, one does not especially need. I do not want to sound like I do not appreciate these freebies: for many, there is surely a value to be found in these vouchers. Personally, I am still skeptical to receive a pair of socks with the name of our local bank on them.
The surprise however came from Stadt Zug itself (the city authorities), namely the department of Social, Environmental and Security services (Soziales, Umwelt und Sicherheit). A carton box arrived one day at home, with an envelope marked at the name of our daughter (note that the name had a spelling mistake, so I had to quickly check that our birth declaration documents were right...).
Inside the box, some information addressed to me, again to give me all necessary options to ask for help and access the necessary services for my baby's and my own health and fun (choice of nurseries, books for the baby, as well as 2 diapers).
But the one point that made me smile is obviously this one: because the public authorities in Zug are the same as the ones in charge of social and environmental services, I received a pack of trashbags. Yes, you heard it, a nice roll of blue trashbags that you can normally find in the supermarkets for 25 CHF.
As I had earlier mentioned, waste management in Zug is strictly controlled: either you recycle, either you centralize your waste in blue bags that you have to pay for and that you have to dispose in specific bins in your residence. Should you make mistakes (voluntarily or not), you can be fined for it. So receiving this roll to dispose of dirty diapers is actually a funny, welcomed present, if you know how many diapers a baby will make in his/her lifetime.
I already hear some of you ask me: but what about re-usable, cloth diapers?
Well, it is surely something that I am planning to try at some point, thanks to some friends who have inspired me and shared the best tips to proceed. However, with a bit of a rough start with Number 2, we went the easy, disposable way.
I had kept however an article comparing the benefits to pick reusable diapers against disposable ones ("Sind Stoffwindeln wirklich ökologischer?", Zentral+, July 2019). In a nutshell, the article shares feedback collected from the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, which states that the environmental impact of both options is somehow suject to individual factors:
disposable diapers, as their name entails, can only be used once and generate a great amount of waste;
cloth diapers on the hand have a long-lasting life, meaning that their immediate environmental impact is lower; however their production is more complex and their use will have an impact on the amount of water and electricity involved in the washing.
The article is therefore asking readers to ask themselves the following questions to see if cloth-diapers make the most sense:
Do I have an efficient washing machine of energy class A+ to A+++?
Do I use environmentally friendly electricity from renewable sources?
Do I always load the machine completely?
Do I wash the diapers at the lowest possible temperatures (not over 60 degrees)?
Do I dry the nappies on the clothesline instead of in the tumble dryer?
Are the nappies used by more than one child?
I would add also a few other questions, for instance where the cloth diapers have been produced, the materials that have been used, or the type of detergent that you are using to wash.
A lot of questions that do make sense, right?
What do you think, and what have you chosen (and for what reasons?)