Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cloth vs. Disposable

Cloth diapers vs Disposable diapers

Environmental Reasons to Use Cloth Diapers

Many parents look at cloth diapering for environmental reasons -- and with good cause!

  • Disposable diapers are the third most common consumer product in landfills today.

  • A disposable diaper may take up to 500 years to decompose.

  • One baby in disposable diapers will contribute at least 1 ton of waste to your local landfill.

Landfill issues are very important. This is a very interesting dilemma facing in Hawaii right now as many of our landfills are either closing or set to close very soon. There have been many articles in the newspaper that discuss this issue. Honolulu has one landfill remaining. Kauai’s only landfill has reached capacity in 2009. Hawaii is running out of places to put its trash and many parents there are turning to cloth diapers in an effort to reduce waste. Looking at waste on the mainland, There was a report published by the Environmental Protection Agency. This report shows the Characterization of Municipal Solid Waste in the United States and gives an interesting view of the waste situation in the United States ten years ago. It says, "An estimated 3.1 million tons of disposable diapers were generated in 1997, or 1.4 percent of total MSW generation. (This tonnage includes an adjustment for the urine and feces contained within the discarded diapers.) The materials portion of the diapers includes wood pulp, plastics (including the super-absorbent materials now present in most diapers), and tissue paper. No significant recycling or composting of disposable diapers was identified in 1997." The same report, published in 2005 (Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 2005 Facts and Figures) showed that disposable diapers accounted for 3.6 million tons of waste and 1.5% of the total waste generation for that year. Once again, the report specifically mentioned that no significant recyling or composting of disposable diapers was identified in 2006.

Economic Reasons to Cloth Diaper

A majority of parents use disposable diapers for their convenience, but have you ever actually thought about the cost of using disposables? The average baby is in diapers between two to three years and uses between 8,000-10,000 diapers. How much does this equal for the average parent? On average, each diaper will cost you about 35 cents. How did I come to that conclusion? The prices of diapers range between .19 (for the newborn size) to .46 (for the toddler size). So I based the price of .35 on an average of all of these prices combined, because no baby stays in a single size forever. So by calculating the cost of an average diaper by the number of diapers the baby will use, you will spend between $2,800.00 (for 8,000 diaper changes) and $3,500.00 (for about 10,000 changes). This estimate does not include applicable sales tax or even the gas used to drive to store for those late-night runs for diapers. I know, washing cloth diapers costs money too. And they do, just not nearly as much as you think. Washing a load of cloth diapers two to three times per week equals the same amount of water that a young child uses to flush the toilet five times a day. And as far as the energy used to wash AND dry your diapers, you are looking at spending a $1.25 each time you wash cloth diapers (including detergent, a rinse cycle, and drying the diapers). You'll save even more money by drying your diapers on a clothesline.

How much will you need to spend on a complete cloth diapering layette? For a stash of pocket diapers to cloth diaper full time, would be a one time price of about 500 dollars(but don't let this scare you! These diapers can last over 2-3 children!) But this is what I suggest to my fellow Dollar Stretcher's and new comers: use diaper covers and diaper prefolds. The benefit to using diaper prefolds AND diaper covers is that you'll be able to reuse them with the next baby or donate them to another mom to use. All In One and pocket diapers are also very popular for their convenience, but they are a more expensive choice (although still less expensive than using disposables). There are dozens of great products available; you just have to find them. There is a company out there called Cotton Babies that makes an affordable product called Econobums, of which you can full time cloth diaper your child for a 100 dollars. You get 6 one size covers and 24 prefold dipers, which is enough to do laundry every other day. I started out with these and I love them in combination to with my Flip covers(another cotton babies product)

Health Considerations when Choosing Diapers

A baby can be sensitive to the ingredients used in diapers. An issue frequently brought up in cloth diapering circles is dioxin exposure. According to a Mothering Magazine article, entitled “The Joy of Cloth Diapers”, "Dioxin, which in various forms has been shown to cause cancer, birth defects, liver damage, and skin diseases, is a by-product of the paper-bleaching process used in manufacturing disposable diapers, and trace quantities may exist in the diapers themselves."

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