As parents, we never considered using anything but cloth diapers. We choose cloth diapers and other reusables because they made sense as natural choices. We figured out the details as we went along. Now, the justifications have become quite clear.
We continue to make our choice to use reusable.
Why reusable? Money, health, environment.
Even the most expensive cloth diapers can cost less to you over your child’s diapering career than either plastic/chemical or paper/cornstarch disposable diapers.
Plastic diapers put some nasty stuff next to a baby. Sodium polyacrylate, the absorbent gel, absorbs even the natural moisture from Baby’s skin. Superabsorbent materials have been linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome. The wood pulp is bleached, leaving skin irritants. And Dioxins, organochloride byproducts of the manufacturing process, are potent carcinogens.
Both plastic and paper diapers are resource and energy intensive to make. Petroleum and wood pulp need a great deal of processing to make a shell for the gel. Even the most resource hungry natural fibers (conventionally grown cotton, for example) have a lower impact on the environment diaper per diaper. When you consider that you would use 4-6,000 disposable diapers in contrast to 24-72 cloth diapers, the differences can be staggering.
And what of disposal?
With cloth diapers, the waste is treated in the sewage system, and cloth diapers are often used as rags, used and worn away fiber by fiber. Many users leave waste in disposable diapers, sending it raw and untreated into landfill, then the plastic diapers are often repackaged in tight plastic wrappers. By volume, disposable diapers are one of the largest waste products in the industrialized world.
We chose cloth every time we reached for a diaper.
The impact is low on family finances, on health, and on the environment. Best of all, it’s easy.
[The photos above are me with my daughter, most before her brother was born. She’s now working on her third decade as she passes twenty years old.]