According to the Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 50 million disposable diapers are sent to US landfills every day. That amounts to almost 20 billion diapers every year, clogging up landfill sites across the country. So what’s the alternative?
Well, there’s now a burgeoning market in eco-friendly diapers, designed to keep your baby clean and dry, while also minimizing the harmful effects on the environment. And considering the fact that the average baby is estimated to use between 5000 – 8000 disposable diapers before they are fully potty-trained, it’s an important choice for parents everywhere.
The scoop on diaper poop
Being a parent is probably the toughest job in the world. So it’s no surprise that the idea of washing and drying thousands of cloth diapers every year is not the most attractive proposition. But it’s hard to argue with the landfill statistics – not to mention the financial costs associated with buying disposable diapers.
Disposables can cost the average family upwards of $2000, while cloth diapers cost around $800 (including laundry costs), saving over $1000 – a pretty impressive sum. Add to that the environmental costs of disposable diapers, and also the anxieties about health risks associated with them, and it becomes easier to see why cloth diapers are making a comeback.
Cloth diapers – the eco-friendly alternative
Disposable diapers bear a high cost – in terms of the potential impact on your baby’s health, your family budget and the planet. There’s now a growing body of evidence to support the switch from disposable diapers to cloth, including;
• Reducing the overall carbon footprint when laundered in full-capacity loads, which are then line dried and potentially used and re-used for other children;
• Preventing exposure to dioxins, pesticides and super absorbent polymers (SAPs) used in disposable diapers;
• Reducing reliance on renewable and non-renewable resources including water and energy; and
• Reducing landfill
There are a wide variety of cloth diapers on the market, which fall into broadly three categories:
1. Pre-folded or flat diapers – these are the most basic variety, but are also most economical, allowing you to fold them to meet the growing size and shape of your baby.
2. Fitted all in one diapers – these are slightly more sophisticated, and designed to fit snugly to your baby’s body. They also often include covers and poppers to fold and close them quickly and easily.
3. Pocket diapers – these are also contoured to match the shape of your baby, as well as allowing you to use disposable or re-usable inserts to make diaper changing more straightforward.
Perhaps one of the biggest down sides involved in switching to cloth diapers is the increase in family laundry generated as a result of the switch. However, there are plenty of ways to launder your diapers in an eco-friendly way, including using baking soda and other natural detergents, washing at a lower temperature and line drying. There are also a growing number of laundry services with impressive ethical credentials, which can collect, launder and return your diapers on a weekly or fortnightly basis, helping to make the switch easier on everyone. Is it time you switched?