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Cloth Diapers 101

There are three main factors in the Cloth verses Disposable debate:




Lets take a look at each of these points.


There is very little argument anymore for the benefit of cloth diapers over disposables on this subject.  One only has to read the content label on a package of disposable diapers to know what dangerous chemicals are used to create an “ultimately dry” experience.  Oh, wait…there is no content label.  In fact, after an exhaustive search, you might find very little information on the subject.  Certainly the disposable diaper companies don’t want to alarm their customers when they find out that their diapers contain traces of Dioxin, a chemical listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals.  A chemical that is banned in most countries, just not the US.  Or sodium polyacrylate the stuff that absorbs liquid and turns it into gel, the very same product that was banned from use in tampons in 1985 after it was linked to toxic shock syndrome.  Or tributyl-tin (TBT) a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.  Nah, why would anyone want to put that information on their product?  After all, it might cause the consumer to stop and think for a moment, “Hmm…should I really be putting all these chemicals on my child’s most sensitive skin for the first 2 – 3 three years of their life?”  Personally, I think a box of disposable diapers should include a large Surgeon General’s warning, just like products containing nicotine.


From birth to potty training babies average somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 diaper changes.  What becomes of the little plastic pant wrapped around your child’s waste?  Do the diapers magically disappear once the garbage truck halls away the weekly load?  Sadly, no.  It can take as long as 500 years for a single diaper to break down. Well, we think it can.  No one has been around long enough to verify that guess. With disposable diapers being the third most common consumer item in landfills today, the impact single use diapers have had on our landfills is staggering!

We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface!  When was the last time your read the package of disposable diapers carefully?  Solid waste is not supposed to go in the garbage. Whether you use cloth or disposable diapers, you are supposed to shake fecal matter into the toilet. Very few people do this, or even realize you are supposed to.  But that warning is there for a very important reason.  Single use diapers aren’t just sitting in their only little bubble somewhere.  Just like pesticides used on your lawn, our ground water becomes contaminated from rainwater run off.  It rains on landfills, too!  But it doesn’t just affect our drinking water.  The chemicals and fecal mater get into our oceans, streams and rivers.

About 5 million tons of untreated body excrement, carrying possibly over 100 intestinal viruses, is brought to landfills because of disposable diapers each year.  I won’t drink to that!




Ah, the “money” talk.  You can diaper your baby many ways.  I like to explain it like this; think of your dishes at home.  How often do you use your washable flatware and utensils?  Every day, right?  Why don’t you use Styrofoam plates and cups?  Because they are bad for the environment and your health (ever microwave a take out box?)?  Sure.  But the real reason is that buying everyday items over and over gets expensive!  Disposable diapers cost on average $2,000-$3,000 per child (not including training pants!).  The nicest cloth diapers on the market will run you…half of that!  Now, just like your dishes, you don’t need the fanciest set on the market to nuke your hot dog.  You CAN cloth diaper your baby for next to nothing or even for free!

For more information check out these great sites:

Or just ask the Green Mommy!