Friday, January 11, 2008

Why I cloth diaper

There are a lot of things I do that makes others question me, but one of the biggest things is that my son wears cloth on his bum. The most common reaction I get to this is a big questioning WHY (usually said in a tone that I might expect had I just revealed that I believe that pigs can, actually, fly).

I thought I would answer that one here:

#1 I like the Earth
Both my husband and I like to consider ourselves pretty environmentally-conscious. So throwing away 8-10 diapers a day when our Pipsqueak was brand new just didn’t sit well with us. Add to that the fact that human waste is not meant to sit in landfills, contaminating ground water, and the stark truth that disposable diapers leave behind an average of 2.7 tons of non-biodegradable waste per child, and we just couldn’t deny that we had a responsibility to change something. Some facts: 18 billion disposable diapers are thrown away each year, taking as many as 500 years to decompose. They make up the third largest source of solid waste in landfills (after newspaper and food/drink containers), which is shocking because they are used by such a limited portion of the population (little babies)! It takes over 82,000 tons of plastic and 1.3 million tons of wood pulp (equaling a quarter-million trees) to manufacture the disposable diapers used by babies in this country. As I mentioned, the disposal of human waste in residential garbage is prohibited. If you look right on your box of Huggies it will tell you to shake out any fecal matter into the toilet before disposing of it. If we’re supposed to do it with disposables anyway, how much harder could cloth diapers really be?

#2 I don’t like chemicals
Disposable diapers are full of dioxins, polyacrylate gel, and bleaches. 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 to manufacture disposable diapers, and trace quantities may even be found in the actual diapers themselves. Sodium Polyacrylate is the gel that makes disposable diapers super, super absorbent. If you’ve ever changed a baby’s disposable diaper after it hasn’t been changed for some time you’ve probably seen polyacrylate gel, in the form of little gel beads on the diaper or sticking to baby’s skin (Pampers seems to be the worst with this!). Sodium Polyacrylate can absorb up to 100 times its weight in water, which is pretty incredible, but not very natural. Sodium Polyacrylate is the same substance that in 1985 was removed from tampons because of its link to Toxic Shock Syndrome, and is suspected of exacerbating and even causing asthma. What happens when this chemical is in contact with baby’s sensitive reproductive organs for 24 hours a day for over two years? No one knows, as there have never been any studies conducted and polyacrylate gel is a relatively new phenomenon, but I don’t want to turn my son into a guinea pig for the disposable diaper industry…
#2 ½ I really, really, really like my baby
In addition to wanting to protect him from the possible effects of the chemicals in disposable diapers, I also want him to be comfortable. I don’t wear stiff paper (and plastic) underwear every day, 24 hours a day, and I don’t want to make my son do it, either.

#3 I also kinda like money
With disposables, there is an estimated cost of $2,000 per child. Even if that is a high estimate, compared to the $300 I spent to buy my son’s cloth diaper stash that is a small fortune! And I can even reuse some of these diapers on the next child (if I have that much self-control to resist buying more!).

Those are my three main reasons for using cloth diapers: better for the environment, better for my baby, better for my budget. There are some other reasons, but to me they’re just extra perks, like how much cuter cloth diapers are than disposable diapers, how fun they are to buy, the convenience of never running out of diapers and needing to make a grocery-store-run in the middle of a snow storm, and the added benefit that potty training comes easier to cloth-diapered toddlers.

And just to debunk some common cloth diapering myths:
I don’t ever have to fold, pin, dunk, or swirl…unless I want to!


-A said...

Now, your #3 is completely my #1 . . . I can't deny the fact that I am cheap and I hate spending money on something that I'm just going to throw away.

Josh said...

I think you may have Brooke and I convinced. We're seriously considering the switch.

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