If you are a friend of mine, whether on facebook or in real life or both, you may know that I am sort of a fanatic about cloth diapers. You may also have known me before I had my beautiful daughter and my thoughts on this subject. Before getting pregnant, I was all about going green, saving the world one plastic bottle at a time. I love to recycle, reuse, and shop in the organic aisle. With all of this in mind, I was known to say on more than one occasion, "If there is something I won't do, its use cloth diapers. That is disgusting!" So how did I go from never to always in a short nine months? Here are a few reasons I would like to share with you:
If you have kids, you know disposable diapers are expensive. I am not a math whiz, but I calculate that if my child uses diapers from birth to age 2, I will spend roughly $1700 overall for diapers. Remember, this is one child, and this does not include wipes, a diaper pail and diaper pail refills. Now, I like some of the pricier cloth diapers, so I have spent a little more than I could have on cloth, so I would estimate that I have so far spent roughly $500-$600 on diapers alone. I also use cloth wipes and make my own wipe solution (an article will come on this subject!), and this was only about $20 total. I use a trash can and 2 wet bags (to be explained later if you don't know what a wet bag is), and this cost me about $45 total. As you can see, the cost is not even comparable. On top of this, I don't have to spend this much on future children because I already have the supplies I need, and the diapers I already have can be reused.
Most of my research on environmental concerns and disposable diapers comes from http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php. Disposable diapers are the 3rd largest single product waste behind newspapers and beverage containers. Urine and feces enter landfills untreated, which can seep into the ground causing polluted water. Did you know that if you looked at the instructions by the manufacturers of disposable diapers, they say to empty a soiled diaper in the toilet before disposing in the trash? I was skeptical, so I checked on the Pampers website, and sure enough, it was there! Seriously, do you know anyone that does this?! There is a reason the companies say to do this! Also, the manufacture and use of disposable diapers amounts to 2.3 more water wasted than cloth. Another environmental concern is that a diaper is estimated to take 250-500 years to decompose. That's long after your great, great grandchildren are gone!
REBUTTAL STATEMENTA study conducted by the U.K. Environment Agency acknowledges the contribution of disposable nappies to total solid waste in the order of 0.1-0.2%. The LCA study, however, confirms that the impact on waste management is not significant. Disposable diapers are compatible with prevailing forms of waste management, some of which may be waste to energy solutions, and the industry is encouraged by Central and Local Government's efforts to broaden their views on waste treatment options beyond landfills.
3. Better for Your Baby
I found a lot of the same information about toxins in diapers from many websites, but http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php actually gave sources for this information, so check this website out if you are interested in the research and studies gone into this subject. Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, a toxic by-product of the paper bleaching process. This is the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. Disposables also contain Tributyl-tin, a toxic substance that used to be in tampons that caused Toxic Shock Syndrome. This pollutant has been known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals. The age of children, specifically girls, that going through puberty now-a-days has significantly decreased, so hormonal problems is of major concern to me.
REBUTTAL STATEMENT: Greenpeace issued a retraction in July 7, 2000 stating they were in error in finding TBT in any Procter & Gamble diapers. P&G denies ever having used this compound in their diapers, nor is there any reason to do so. In addition, the 1994 study regarding dioxin states it causes cancer if dioxin is INGESTED.
4. Possibly Better for Potty Training!
No research has been found on this subject, but some experts and many parents I have spoken with believe that cloth diapers helps with the potty training process. Some think it may be because children can feel the wetness more with cloth. Others think that parents are more motivated to train because they don't want to wash diapers anymore, but I would think most parents are motivated, no matter what kind they use. :-)
If I think of any other reasons off the top of my head, I will post them. Also, if you have any other reasons, feel free to post too! I would love to hear comments of any kind! My next article will be titled, "Yes, but is it REALLY Worth It?"