Archives for posts with tag: recycling art


When the Proles were little we used washable nappies instead of disposables.

Most of the time it was not an issue but people fell into three main groups, some would laugh at us for this, some fewer others would get mildly defensive and fewer still would agree and chat about their experiences with cloth nappies.

I don’t really mind to be honest. It’s swings and roundabouts really. I just preferred the idea of washable nappies.
The poo goes into the compost and the old nappies can be washed and re-cycled.
Een the daily soaking and washing could be dealt with in a relatively ecological way, washing with eco-balls and getting a soak recipe from the internet.

Washing nappies is not difficult.

I have to be honest.

Disposable nappies are just so much easier.
Really, really easy.
I met a Mum who left her child in the same nappy most of the day as long as there was no poo.
‘They come out clean and dry, why would I change them?’ was her question.
Disposable nappies hang around in landfill for fifty years before they decompose.
That is less convenient.

Washable nappies need to be changed regularly.
They are heavy, they smell and the washing machine is on the go all the time.
You need a really big bag to carry them round, into which you need to stuff all the things a twenty first century parent might need as well.

Cloth nappies also make your child’s bum look big, especially if they are of the butter ball variety like Prole1 was.
Huge round baby, his nappy made him look almost spherical.
Cloth nappies are just that much bigger.
So big that modern baby clothes rarely fit them. You need to keep an eye out for the clothing suppliers that will cater for the larger nappy-ist.

Using them is just a mind set.
It is easy and straight forward.
You have to do a wash just about every day and there are some issues around poo that you can’t be too squeamish about, but then as a parent you are genrally shovelling it in one end so you may as well monitor it at the other.
You can become quite an expert too and the changes get quick and slick.
And yes, you feel smug.
Because your child’s poo will not outlive you in a landfill site.

This smugness is tempered by the odd ocasion when you do use a disposable nappy and you realise HOW MUCH EASIER IT IS.

After four years of hauling a bag of washable nappies around Prole1 had achieved moderate control of his functions, as long as you did not tickle him too much (or, for some reason, give him a Slush Puppy) and Prole2 was pretty much accident free during the day and only wearing a nappy at night.

Washable nappies eventually come to the end of their useful life. They become threadbare and a little sad.
If you have ever spent years washing a favourite cuddly toy and mourned it’s slow passing into shapeless, grubby, worn out rag, that is nothing to the terrible punishment carried out on the washable nappy.

I had to make a choice, purchase more washable nappies for what might be the last of the nappy nights with the Proles or save a little cash and go disposable for the last few months.

Washable nappies can be eye wateringly expensive at a first look.
Weighed against disposables the costs come down and I feel they are the better deal.
For what might be a couple of months though, it was a lot of money.

I went for the slightly more expensive bio-degradable disposable nappy.

Bio-degradable disposable nappy.

I imagined the last few months of nappyhood would pass like a dream.

I passed on the disposable nappies to a charity who were actually asking for them (why?) and took delivery of an enormous box of ninety nappies.
These might actually do the trick I thought, perhaps I will never have to order any more.

In fact it took a further three years for Prole2 to be dry through the night.

We also went back to wearing them occasionally during the day for a couple of months.

That is at least one nappy a night for three years.

The compost bin I bought was not up to the job.

I bought another.

And another.

I have four compost bins out there, full to the brim with bio-degradable nappies.

Bio-degradable nappies bio-degrad in seven months.

It says so on the packet.

I have nappies out there from 2010 vintage that are still in one piece.

And before the questions start, yes, I ripped each nappy open in turn (think about that for a second, it takes a certain technique that can only be perfected in situ, you can’t learn this stuff on the streets or from a book) and yes they were layered in with kitchen and garden waste.
The kitchen and garden waste has mulched down nicely.
The biodegradable nappies mock me.

That is not the worst of it though.
They were the wrong kind of bio-degradable nappies.
They were the ones with the silica gel in them.
This is the stuff in most disposable nappies, a dusty powder of crystals that absorb liquid and turn to a soft jelly.

The right kind of bio-degradable nappies do not have this stuff in them.
They eventually compact down in the compost bin and get eaten by worms.

My compost bins would get emptier and emptier as the summer went on.
This year I forked the contents of the bins around, breaking them up a bit and trying to get some air in, then once it had been turned I shovelled it all back in, filling three to the brim and leaving the third one empty for new composting activity.

This was the first time I noticed the amount of gel I had in the bins.
I thought things like:

‘That seems odd’
‘What a lot of that stuff there is’
‘I wonder if worms eat it?’

Naive things like that.

Of course, while we did not have a scorcher of a summer the gel had spent the whole thing inside the compost bins and had to a great degree dried out.

Come the winter and all this rain and I am faced with an incredibly middle class problem.
The gel has swollen up to several times it’s previous size.
Bin number 1, being mostly empty, is fine.
Gel has burst through the door of Bin number 2.
Bin number 3 is dangerously full.
Bin number 4 has lifted off about three inches, like a particularly disastrous attempt to power a rocket with slow moving, gloopy slime. It is at a slight angle and the gel is seeping out all around the base.

I cant get the door shut on Bin number 2. The gel itself has turned really watery but the remains of the un-degraded bio-degradable nappies is holding it in place.
All the other household and garden waste is mixed in to the gel, as it the remains of what I hoped would be Prole2’s contribution to the fecundity of my garden. Most of it is unrecognisable but I still know what it is. What it was. Now it is all a sort of greyish black slime that is making the end of my garden a no go area.

I swear it looks like a low budget 50’s horror in places.

I have tried digging it in but unless you spread it thin and deep it makes the topsoil mushy and slimy in the rain and bubbles up through the grass in the slightest shower.

I am still glad I used cloth nappies though my opinion of bio-degradable has shifted.

Perhaps the should have gone to landfill instead, still, I am fairly certain I can get on top of the problem in the next fifty years.

This, I hope, will bring me back out ahead of the game.

I was told once that having children meant that you would never be free again because they were hostages to your emotions.

I have to admit I have learned more about myself and become a happier more rounded person since I have had children.
They have let me see the world in a new way, to question the future and the past whilst I struggle with the present.
They have shone a light into the dusty cupboards of my life and I have become a new person with them.

Still there are things about having kids that knock me back, that make me tread carefully, that have really made me unsure about how the wold perceives me.

I blame the glitter.

Ever since Prole1 went to his first ‘art’ workshop aged 9 months I have been plagued by uncertainty.
Do I have a tiny bit of glitter stuck to my face?

The ‘tiny bit of glitter stuck to your face’ is the STD of the children’s ‘art’ workshop.
You don’t know you have it and for the most part it goes unnoticed but it singles you out in social situations and it is impossible to get rid of.

I always have a tiny bit of glitter stuck to my face. Just because I can’t see it does not mean it is not there.

All through Christmas I would catch myself in the mirror, a tiny flash on the forehead and it was gone.
I would then have to rock backwards and forwards until the light flashed again. Then it was gone.
I spent ages rocking backwards and forwards.
Surely life is too short.

Can you really pay attention to what someone is saying if they have a tiny bit of glitter stuck to their face?
I can’t.

In the early days I did not mind it so much.
In the early days though I would go out covered in glitter, pesto, baby sick and bits of breakfast cereal and frankly could not care less as I joined the ranks of other parents and we would nod hollow eyed at each other as we shared an understanding that eighteen months before we may all have been bright young things, flashing ultraviolet smiles as the DJ worked the ones and twos but now we just wanted some sleep.
And a tidy front room.
And for someone, anyone to come and clean the toilet because THERE IS NOT ENOUGH TIME IN THE WORLD.

Later as things levelled out, people in my house started sleeping for longer than three hours at a time and a tiny modicum of control came back into my life.
I liked it.
Sleep had a system, laundry had a system, food provision had a system, personal hygiene had a system. Sort of.

What I had no system for, what no one warned me about, what has devastated my life and house was the wall of cardboard tubes covered in bottle tops, crepe paper, sugar paper, newspaper, tissue paper screwed into balls and stuck to old bottles, painted boxes, drawings in chalk, crayon, felt tip, pencil and poster paint of all colours daubed everywhere. Sandwich boxes, take away tubs, cardboard boxes of all shapes, sizes and origin turned into cars, robots, binoculars, planes, submarines, worms, diggers, houses, castles, in fact anything the fevered minds of the Proles could come up with.
Paper plates, does anyone actually use a paper plate for eating off? The ones I see have pasta PVA’d to them and splurged with paint.

And glitter, glitter, glitter.
It is a common ‘art’ technique to paste glue all over an object and then pour glitter all over it.
You can shake the excess off if you like but the Proles like to keep things loose.
And glittery.

The phrase that keeps coming up is that it is ‘recycling’ and creating art.
It is not recycling, it is going through the bins and dragging out all the crap you can find and getting small children to Pritt stick it all together and then sending it back to my house in a form that is almost IMPOSSIBLE to recycle. Wrapped in sellotape and glued up.
There is not enough room in my house far all this stuff. At one point the Proles were averaging 14 pieces of ‘art’ each week.
At that rate we could be absorbing 728 pieces of ‘art’ every year.
Into one two bedroom house.
Each of these pieces of ‘art’ has immense sentimental attachment for the Proles.
Each one is like a Picasso to them.
The nice man on Antiques road show could value this stuff at thousands and the Proles would just laugh sheepishly and say no, these things have been in the family too long, they mean too much and they won’t be selling.

I wouldn’t mind if they were any good.

I have to get rid of this stuff.

I have a line of ‘art’ quarantine bags. If the ‘artwork’ within any given bag is not requested within 12 months then it leaves the house, never to return.
It used to be 6 months but recent uncomfortable questions from the Proles have extended the timings of the system.

I need to bring it under control.

But there is no controlling the tiny bit of glitter stuck to my face.
It’s not just handling the ‘art’, just being in the same house puts me at risk.
I will never know whether I have been infected or not.

I can deal with the big stuff, the threat posed to the Proles by eye operations, illness, heart conditions, cuts, bruises and the constant threat of being run over by an idiot.

The tiny unsettling everyday things are much more worrying.

It will be years before I can step out the door without worrying that somewhere there is a tiny bit of glitter stuck to my face.