the very sweet francesca from il caffè delle mamme proposed me to do an interview for her column “progetti di mamme” (mothers’ projects) and published it yeterday afternoon! go take a look! i’m really happy with it! it is in italian, but i will translate it here:
tell us a little about who lisa is, what brought you to italy?
i was born and raised in the united states, in a family with italian origins. at the university i studied italian and did a semester abroad in florence. i wanted to return to live in italy, but i didn’t know how. so when i finished my studies, i started teaching english as a second language in boston and, seeing as i liked it, i got an official certification and found work in the italian city which fascinated me the most: naples. then i found love, started a family, and here i am still nearly 11 years later!
i found lots of recycling ideas on your blog, i find knowing how to give new life to the objects that most people would throw away to be the utmost creativity. when was this passion of yours born?
i’ve always had a passion for crafts and both in organized arts and crafts situations and at home we often created with recuperated materials. perhaps it’s more typical in the states. growing up, my love for crafting unfortunately became of much less importance. i did still keep making collages of magazine clippings for mix tapes and make jewelry from beads and painted pasta, but i started becoming interested in other things. for example, for a relatively long period i was very passionate about black and white photography.
then came maternity and everything changed. i couldn’t express my creativity through photography because i couldn’t breathe in and handle the chemicals while pregnant, so i started fiddling around with sewing (my mother had taught me the absolute basics when i was an adolescent). then when i started becoming interested in the world of cloth products, i started becoming interested in ecological things. 3 or 4 years ago i started questioning the practice of throwing things away without thinking about it first. i’ve always loved brainteasers, so i really enjoy looking at something that “ought to be” thrown out and thinking of ways to transform it into something useful. reading other blogs about the same topic, i became more and more passionate about it, until now when i have something like a landfill in our home where i keep my treasures that have been saved from the incinerator which i’ll be able to use sooner or later! (or my daughter will, as she’s become perhaps even more passionate about this than i am!)
when did you start dealing with the world of cloth products?
when i was pregnant the first time, i decided to use cloth diapers. it was a completely independent decision because at the time i didn’t know a single person that used them and it was before the era of the blog boom, so it wasn’t as easy to find info about them as it is now. unfortunately, at the time we lived in a very damp home without heating and our clothes never dried completely during the period of winter rain, so we decided not to use cloth diapers because they wouldn’t have been able to dry properly for a large portion of the year. i was really upset about it, so to make up for it i ordered cloth baby wipes from a wahm (work at home mother) and cloth nursing pads from someone else. then i bought a sewing machine and i started making them myself the way i wanted them.
when my daughter was one, we moved to a much drier apartment, so i decided to sew my own cloth diapers. i studied loads of online tutorials, i ordered the special fabrics when i was in the united states and i made modification after modification. the first ones were pretty ugly and didn’t fit properly, but bit by bit i started getting more satisfied with them. then i started noticing american websites and blogs writing every so often about cloth menstrual pads. it seemed like a great idea and i already had the diaper fabrics, so i started again with making different models and modifying them. i still use those first pads even if they’re not as pretty and have some stranger forms than the ones i make now do.
the people that saw my diapers couldn’t believe that i had sewn them nor that they were so cool-looking and easy to use. and i realized that there was a pretty high demand for cloth products, so i started proposing them to other people.
the return to cloth diapers is surely a step towards a world that is more attentive to the environment and ecology. many italian towns are moving in this direction, with incentives and free kits for newborns. do you think that italian mothers will manage to commit in this sense?
in a country where most families can afford disposable diapers without having to give up the food on their table, i think most mothers will continue using disposables because of their convenience. lots of peole thing, “cloth diapers? gross!” without learning more about them. but luckily there’s an ever larger number of families choosing cloth diapers, thanks also to the initiatives of these more progressive italian towns. i hope that this tendency will continue!
in the united states, is the use of cloth diapers a common practice, or a return to a relatively recent past as in italy?
i think cloth diapers are more common in the states than in italy, but it’s certainly not the norm. those who use them are definitely the minority. but, as you said, in any place cloth diapers are “a return to a relatively recent past” if you consider that disposables only started being used in the 1970s and became common practice only in the 1980s. but it’s really incredible how people forget how things used to be done when all the disposable products we have now didn’t exist. at one time people didn’t clean their kitchens with paper towels, nor buy olives in plastic clamshells or bags, nor did they clean their ears with q-tips, but this certainly doesn’t mean that they left their kitchens filthy, didn’t eat olives and went around with ears full of wax. there have always been other ways of doing things, but nobody wants to think about it.
what would you like to say to the women who read my blog, why should they use cloth menstrual pads?
there are loads of reasons, whether to protect the environment, to keep a distance from the toxic chemicals in disposables, to be more comfortable, to save money or simply to keep your morale up during your period with the bright colors. anyone who wants to learn more about them can read the post on cloth menstrual pads on my blog.
many women think that their menstrual blood is disgusting and don’t want anything to do with it. i was like that once, too, in part because of the taboo and in part because i’ve always had a very, very heavy period. i have lots of bad memories from the time between middle school and university when i couldn’t even resist 45 minutes in class without getting my clothes – and sometimes my chair – dirty, teachers who wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom twice in one lesson, stains that i could never get out of my clothes… the menstrual cup (i wrote about it on the cloth pad post mentioned above) along with cloth pads saved me. not only can i go for reasonable amounts of time without turning into a mushy mess, i have a much healthier relationship with my menstrual cycle. i used to hate my period and i was embarrassed to have it or talk about its existence. and go figure, now i’m always talking about menstruation with pleasure! 🙂
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4 thoughts on “interview at “il caffè delle mamme””
grazie, phoebe! mi fa sempre piacere quando si riesce a spargere di più la voce su questi prodotti, quindi mi ha fatto molto piacere questa intervista! (anche se a volte forse ho esaggerato un po' con i dettagli…) 🙂
Non credo che tu abbia esagerato con i dettagli, servono a capirti bene, invece. Poi se a uno non interessano, può sempre non leggere!