Monday, September 26, 2011

Healthy Homemaking Series: Diapers Go Green

Baby Step 21 - Deck Your Baby Out in Cloth

Challenge:  Consider making the leap to cloth diapers.

Why: There are 3 main considerations regarding disposable versus cloth diapers: cost, environmental stewardship, and health.

Cost - While start up costs of purchasing the cloth diapers seem staggering, the cost spread out over a child's diapering years make up for it over and over again.  The cost of disposable diapering (including wipes, etc.) is on average about $50 a month or $600 a year.  To purchase cloth diapers and covers all the way from newborn to toddler age (at least 2 years worth) does not even cost $600.  Plus, you can use those diapers again on future children.  Also, from what I have read, there is no significant increase in costs for extra hot water, detergent, etc. for cloth diapering.

Environmental Stewardship
- Here is a statistic that was quoted in the book:
"[A]ssuming that approximately 18 billion diapers are sold each year, and that over 90 percent of these end up at landfills, this translates into more than 4,275,000 tons of disposable diapers trucked to landfills each year.  Add the remaining 10 percent that end up in resource recovery plants for a total of 4,500,000 tons of single-use diapers thrown away this year." 
This is from an American source, but I am sure the story is the similar here in Canada as well.  I cannot see any way in which this is responsible stewardship of the earth, and it is leaving behind a bleak legacy for our children and their future generations.

Health - In recent studies, it has been discovered that emissions from the chemicals used in disposable diapers can cause respiratory distress and asthsma-like symptoms.  Dioxin (a known carcinogen) is a byproduct of the materials in disposable diapers.  The absorbent chemicals used can cause allergic reactions, skin irritations and infections, and are linked to toxic shock syndrome.  Also, some dyes used have been linked to damage of the central nervous system, kidneys, and liver.  Yikes!

There are so many different options and cute styles out there nowadays.

How: Similarly to the cloth pads consideration, I had always been against cloth diapers based on the gross out factor.  After reading this section of Stephanie Langford's book however, I had begun to feel that that was not a good enough reason to ignore all of the harm disposable diapers are doing.  Not too long after, there was this fantastic series posted on her blog, Keeper of the Home, called Dispelling the Myths: Why Cloth Diapering is Truly Easier Than it Seems (if you have any interest in or curiousity about this topic, I really encourage you to check out these blog posts as she is so upfront and informative, and the comments from other real life moms really show the truth).  The blog series won me over once and for all.  If/When Brad and I are blessed with children, they will be rocking out with their cloth out.  (We are also very interested in elimination communication so hopefully we won't need many diapers anyways, but that is a whole nother topic.)

What are your thoughts on cloth diapers?


  1. I love cloth diapers! I used them on all but Ethan. I even had to hand wash mine and it was still super easy. I saved tons of money and it is way better for the enviroment. Go for it!! The only time I used diposables was when we went out and that was mainly cuz there was no such thing as a "wet bag" where I lived! had I had one of those I would have used them when out as well. Also I love keeper of the home blog too!

  2. Yay for cloth diapers! I happily used them and had 2 in diapers as they were only 15 months apart! I even made my own folded diapers (using *GASP* diaper pins!) and liners and cloth wipes. This was in the "olden days" before there was all this popularity and the cute thick formed ones. It really is not that hard or gross and I recommend everyone try it atleast!