Why Cloth Diapers?
There are many reasons why moms (and dads) choose cloth diapers. In fact, the benefits of cloth over disposable diapers are plentiful. The following gives our top ten reasons to use cloth:
10) Cost – Cloth diapers are hands down less expensive that disposable diapers. Check out a cloth diaper savings calculator here!
9) Less waste in our landfills - It isn’t known how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but it is estimated to be around 250-500 years. Disposable diapers are the third largest consumer item in landfills and represent about 4% of solid waste. In a house with a child in diapers, disposable diapers make up 50% of household waste.4
8) Reduce your household carbon footprint - Disposable diapers generate 60 times more solid waste and use 20 times more raw materials, like crude oil and wood pulp than cloth diapers.3 Over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks, and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for one baby every year.5 Using cloth also reduces the amount of chemicals introduced into the environment through the manufacturing process.
7) Reuse with your next baby - Cloth diapers are made to last!! In our experience and those that we’ve talked to, typical wear will lead to a diaper lasting through 2-3 children. And then when you’re done diapering your babies, donate them to someone else or use them as rags around the house!
6) Early potty training - Disposable diaper manufacturers use the concept of “dryness” as a marketing tool. But is “dryness” a good thing? Parents tend to take that as the message that it’s ok for them to leave their child in their diaper longer because they are “dry”, thus making them walk around with a portable toilet stuck to their bottoms. Then when it’s time for potty training, parents don’t understand why their child doesn’t get the concept of wanting to be clean. Cloth diapers do allow for a certain amount of “wet” feeling. That allows the child to communicate their discomfort so you realize they went potty and change them faster. It also allows for the child to understand the concept of elimination faster, thus encouraging earlier potty training. All around the world children are potty trained much faster than American babies. According to Contemporary Pediatrics, over 50 percent of the world's children are potty trained between six months and one year of age. The world average is 18 months old. This was also true in the United States before disposable diapers were introduced. Now in the United States and other "disposable diaper" countries, toilet training is delayed to age 3 or 4. Need another added benefit to early potty training? Think of all the money and time you’ll save by cutting the number of diapering years in half!!
5) Reduce chemical exposure - Disposable diapers contain many chemicals considered harmful to humans. One of those chemicals is dioxin, a toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process. Dioxin is listed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) as a carcinogen. It is banned in most countries, but not in the United States.1 Many disposable diapers also contain Tributyl-tin (TBT) - a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.2 Disposable diapers also contain sodium polyacrylate, a type of super absorbent polymer (SAP), which becomes a gel-like substance when wet. This is the chemical that allows disposable diapers to absorb so much liquid. A similar substance was used in super-absorbency tampons until the early 1980s when it was discovered that the product increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome.3 This chemical was banned from use in feminine products following that discovery, but lobbyists were quick to prevent a ban on its use in diapers. Why? To protect the hygiene products industry from the additional cost of converting to safer products. The moral of the story here is that we as a country have decided that a chemical unfit for mom’s use is okay for baby. Sound logical to you? None of this is new; countries all over the world (including in Europe) have banned the use of these chemicals in disposable diapers.
4) Potential increased fertility issue with baby boys wearing disposable diapers - Research shows that scrotal temperature is increased in boys wearing disposable diapers and that prolonged use of disposable diapers will blunt or completely abolish the physiological testicular cooling mechanism important for fertility.6
3) Less diaper rash - Parents using disposable diapers are constantly insisting that babies using cloth diapers will get more diaper rash. Well, we can honestly tell you that is just not the case. This is partially due to irritation caused by perfumes and chemicals in disposable diapers. But it can also be attributed to the fact that parents tend to not change diapers frequently enough.
2) Comfort - You don't wear disposable underwear. Why should your baby? Comfort is as important to your baby as it is to you. In studies where the child was old enough to communicate preference, they choose cloth, hands down. Think about it, would you rather soft cotton or fleece down there
or scratchy paper with plastic trim?
1) Cloth diapers & covers are just so darn cute!!
1 Allsopp, Michelle. Achieving Zero Dioxin: An emergency strategy for dioxin elimination. September 1994. Greenpeace. http://archive.greenpeace.org/toxics/reports/azd/azd.html
2 Greenpeace. New Tests Confirm TBT Poison in Procter & Gamble's Pampers: Greenpeace Demands World-Wide Ban of Organotins in All Products. 15 May 2000.
3 Armstrong, Liz and Adrienne Scott Whitewash: Exposing the Health and Environmental Dangers of Women's Sanitary Products and Disposable Diapers, What You Can Do About It. 1993. HarperCollins.
4 Link, Ann. Disposable nappies: a case study in waste prevention. April 2003. Women's Environmental Network.
5 Lehrburger, C., J. Mullen and C.V. Jones. 1991. Diapers: Environmental Impacts and Lifecycle Analysis. Philadelphia, PA: Report to The National Association of Diaper Services (NADS).
6 C-J Partsch, M Aukamp, W G Sippell Scrotal temperature is increased in disposable plastic lined nappies. Division of Paediatric Endocrinology, Department of Paediatrics, Christian- Albrechts- University of Kiel, Schwanenweg 20, D-24105 Kiel, Germany. Arch Dis Child 2000;83:364-368.