S.T. asks from Saint Paul, MN on February 09, 2008
Seeking Information About Environmental Impact of Cloth Vs. Disposable Diapers
I have heard that it is an environmental "wash" between cloth and disposable diapers when you take into account the water and products used by diaper cleaning services. Does anyone have any information on this?
E.C. answers from Minneapolis on February 10, 2008
Everyone has given you great advice. If you are interested in the gdiapers, I am selling them on craigslist so let me know if you want them because it is going to be a better deal than buying them new. They were hardly used because my baby must pee too much, it would leak into his clothes and I got sick of washing them.
K.L. answers from Minneapolis on February 10, 2008
I don't know which is best, but I do have a suggestion for dealing with cloth diapers if that's the route you choose. I learned this from another mom when my now-30-year-old daughter was a baby.
Rinse out each diaper immediately with hot tap water and hang it up to dry. (When there's poop, dump it into the toilet first.) Then when it's laundry time you only have dry diapers, not heavy wet ones, to carry to the washing machine. Wash and dry like any laundry. (I would recommend a hypoallergenic, unscented detergent.) I remember a woman at the laundromat asking me how I did the diapers, because my dirty ones looked better than her clean ones.
A.A. answers from Minneapolis on February 10, 2008
To be totally honest I believe that disposable diapers have their place occasionally. We use cloth diapers most of the time, but have found that the occasional disposable can be handy (when traveling, or at nighttime - because my son wets and soaks his diaper to max capacity!)Ok that said, I feel much better about using cloth diapers because of the waste issue. I believe that it is a "no-brainer" that cloth is a more environmentally friendly option mostly because of its re-use. Say you buy 3 dozen cloth diapers with covers. You're set for years with this. And they are quite easy to wash. It's interesting how everyone has their own method for doing this! I used to soak mine in a pail of cold water, but now just put them into the same pail without water. I sometimes do a soak first in the washing machine, but generally just do a hot wash/cold rinse with a little vinegar, then one more cold rinse without vinegar. No problems. Another thing I have noticed is that washing diapers a couple times a week has not affected our water bill whatsoever. I also like the idea that these diapers can be used over and over with multiple children and then even passed on from there. And then when they are really worn they apparently make great dusting/cleaning rags!
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C.W. answers from Duluth on February 09, 2008
Yea... if you are woman enough to do cloth diapers, be woman enough to wash them yourself. There's nothing environmentally friendly about a company making profit off your child's dirty diapers. I doubt they take into account how much water or product they have to go through, they are thinking PROFIT regardless of what they might say in order to entice you into using their services.
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J.B. answers from Minneapolis on February 10, 2008
So many wonderful responses!
I just wanted to add that home laundering of cloth diapers does use less water, since diaper services must meet health codes and they must wash their diapers in hotter water and more times than you would at home. They also tend to throw away/get rid of their cloth diapers and wraps at a faster rate, since they want their product to look perfect. They might toss a diaper that is slightly worn, but perfectly functional (and even softer and more absorbent with age)!
Also, if you take into account the gasoline burned to pick up/deliver the diapers, home laundering comes out even better on the carbon footprint scale. We love our cloth dipes and have been home laundering since my first son was 3 weeks old!
I can't even fathom how much money we've saved by not buying disposables. I believe that if more people knew how cute, comfortable, simple, mess-free, and great for the environment cloth diapers were, we'd be put Proctor&Gamble and Kimberly-Clark out of business. ;-)
mama to 2 cloth diapered boys
ETA: One more environmental issue is human waste going into landfills. (Which, by the way, is illegal but not enforced!?) With cloth diapering, human waste goes to the water treatment plant---where it belongs! Human waste is nasty stuff and can cause disease. If a child has been vaccinated against polio, for example, that child's excrement will always contain poliovirus. If the poop from a disposable is sent to a landfill, there is likely a big problem with ground water quality, especially since disposables are the third largest component of landfills. YUCK!
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C.F. answers from Omaha on February 10, 2008
I used cloth diapers with both of my kids. If you have the time and the desire to do it then i say go for it but its a personal choice just like nursing and whether you do one or the other does not make you any less of a parent.
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S.A. answers from Minneapolis on February 10, 2008
I can't say much about the chems used by diaper services, but we are on our second in cloth (2 yr old is potty training - yeah - and have a 1 yr old). We use old-school pre-folds and covers. I wash them myself with an environmentally- and baby-friendly powder. In the S. we hang them out in the sun as much as possible. Once you are in the swing of things, washing yourself becomes habit and not too bad to fit in during the evenings or early morn (I am a full-time grad student and my husband works full-time).
We use cloth to save money, especially since our boys are so close in age. But, I have to say I feel so good about not having a garbage bin full of diapers each week. My house smells less of diapers than any of my friends who use disposibles and the boys don't have that icky chemically smell when they are wet or dirty. For us it has been the best choice. Will do it again next time.
J.B. answers from Des Moines on February 10, 2008
Someone earlier mention gdiapers, and I just wanted to agree. I love gdiapers. Check out their website: www.gdiapers.com, they have information on the enviromental impact of both cloth and disposable.
K.A. answers from Milwaukee on February 10, 2008
I use cloth. And I am such a big advocate for them. For one, did you know that one diaper takes 100 years to decompose and it doesn't even decompose to the point of there being no waste. That sent me into a panic for our kids and their earth they have to live in. The diaper service we use is great. Some people might think it is a wash between the two. I disagree. This is what we have water purification plants for (my dad was a designer for them). They may cost a lot, but no mater what the water situation is in a 100 years, they can purify the water. Now, as far as the ozone disapearing and causing global warming (no glaciers) that takes everyones part to help the earth and be more eco friendly. I bet if you ask the diaper service that is in your area how many gallons of water they use and what kind of detergent they use (if eco friendly)-I would guarentee that they are being eco friendly. Now, if you would wash your own. Get a washer that is energy efficient (energy star rated).I feel better that I use cloth diapers. Better for the earth, and my childrens future. Plus my daughters have such sensitive skin-they cannot use disposables. All the chemicals in the diapers to make them all absorbant irritate their skin. which made me think what I was putting on my childs bottom was even more important. Also, I was part of a study at Froedtert. At the outpost there are eco friendly disposable diapers that break down (they are not very attractive looking-brown)this would be another option.
Hope this helps,
J.M. answers from Milwaukee on February 10, 2008
I washed cloth diapers at home. You put the "wet" ones in a diaper pail, and the "messy" ones in a large bucket of water to soak. Wash when you have a good-sized load, and remember to pour off the soaking water. We were able to use these diapers for two kids. And, remember, if you're going to use a diaper service and have day care, they're just going to bag up the diapers for you to take home. What do they care if you are using your own diapers and taking them home and washing them yourself? You can use an earth friendly laundry soap to minimize the impact even more