Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cloth Diapering Doesn't Have to be Scary

Ok, so I have been doing a lot of research about cloth diapering lately. One of the best resources I have found is from There are waaaay bigger experts out there than me, but I would like to share what I have learned.

Pros of Cloth Diapering:
1. Cost- a child may wear in excess of 8,000 diapers by the time he or she is potty-trained. At an average of $0.20 a diaper, that equals to about $1,600 in diapers alone. Add in disposable wipes, increased purchases of anti-rash items, a diaper genie, diaper genie inserts, and (for us) increased dump fees, and it can get expensive really quickly.

I estimate that for a complete set of diapers for one child, I will need about 20 diapers. If I buy all organic, the total is $500. With organic cloth wipes, and a spray attachment for the toilet, I estimate the total cost to be about $600. Total, finito, out-the-door. And the kicker is... they are reusable. You can use them for every child you have. So, if we had 3 biscuits in disposables, the cost would be about $6,000 in poo-collectors and poo-collector accessories. If we have 3 biscuits with cloth diapers, the cost is still $600.

2. Quality of Life Issues- on average, a child in cloth diapers potty-trains much, much sooner than one in disposables. The theory behind that is that in cloth diapers, a child feels wet and uncomfy in a dirty diaper. In a disposable, all that wet feeling is whisked away by magic chemicals, and the child does not learn to associate going potty with feeling wet. Cloth-diaper kids potty train at about 18 months, whereas a disposable diaper kid potty-trains at about 40 months. So, a difference of 22 months per kid, times 3, equals 66 months or 5 and a half less years of changing diapers. I want my kids to be responsible for what they "make" as soon as possible.

Another issue that would fall under this heading is that my husband and I do not have curb-side trash pickup. (Yes, shocking for city people, I know.) Right now, my husband and I average maybe one dump run per month. Add in ten-twelve diaper changes a day, and that dump run would probably be bi-monthly, at least. Also, all those diapers would just SIT there, on our property, until we took them away. Summer heat wave, anyone?

3. Health reasons- Now, I am not a health professional as of yet, and even when I am, I will not have expertise on this issue. But just in my head, it seems like a bad idea to strap my kid's ass into a bag of chemicals 24-7. This is especially unattractive to me since they have found another fun use for the chemicals in diapers: fire retardant. I just don't feel comfortable with the fact that if the house burned down, the only things that would survive would be the items I place closest to my kid's most sensitive areas.

Supposed Cons:
1. Too much water use- I am sure that our water use will increase substantially when we have kids. This is a given. But I also think that it is slightly silly to say that the water you use to wash the diapers, between the toilet sprayer and the washer, is more than that which is used to make the disposable diapers. That would actually be an awesome study... (calling all researchers!)

Hypothetically, even if the total water usage does increase when using cloth diapers, you WILL NOT convince me that using disposables is better for the environment overall. Let's take stock, shall we? Plastics, chemicals, etc pulled from the environment and synthesized, fossil fuels used to transport raw materials, then manufactured into a product using machinery and producing pollution, more fossil fuels to transport, fossil fuels to pick up, fossil fuels to take to dump, where it sits in a landfill for up to 500 years.

Yes, I imagine that the manufacturing of cloth diapers is similar, in some ways. But there are far less chemicals, especially if you buy organic. And poo belongs in septic tanks and sewers, not in landfills. Which brings me to my next "con":

2. Dealing with poo is worse in a cloth diaper- Poo is nas-tay in any diaper. You have to wipe the poo off the bum no matter which kind of diaper you go with. And then, you have to dispose of the diaper and the poo somehow. So, with a disposable, you have to wrap it all up and stick it in a diaper genie. I get how that is attractive. With a cloth diaper, you have to rinse it off with a toilet sprayer, flush the poo, and then throw the diaper in a "wet bag" or pail of some kind. Then wash, dry, re-use.

3. Cloth diapers are difficult to put on: They don't have to be. Check these bad boys out: If you can use a regular diaper, you can use these.

I am excited to bake a biscuit someday, and I want to make sure I do everything possible to have them grow up happy and healthy. I think cloth diapers will be a part of that. Ofcourse, cloth diapering would be much more glamorous with a set of these:

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