Why I've Committed to Cloth Diapers for My Little One's Bum (and Why You Should Too)

September 10, 2019

I made the commitment to use cloth diapers over ten years ago, long before I met my husband and had any real prospect of getting pregnant. At the time, I was babysitting a friend’s two baby boys, and although I wasn’t changing their diapers, I was aware that their family used a cloth diaper service, at least in the beginning. As my friend had told me, “its better for the environment,” and she— who was getting her doctorate from UCLA— was someone whose opinion on the matter solidified my feelings on the subject. 


Since then, I’ve done my own research and have become much more of an advocate for reducing my personal carbon footprint, reducing my plastic usage, and lessening my impact on local landfill pollution. Also, over the last decade, more developing nations have vastly increased their access to and use of disposable diapers, making nappies the third most common consumer product found in landfills. It is estimated that it takes 500 years for a single “disposable” diaper to decompose, and so the world-over is seeped in billionsof diaper waste for centuries to come… and the condition is only expected to get worst as middle-class economies around the globe continue to improve.


That is, unless, more individuals choose a more sustainable route with cloth diapers. I’d like to say its progressive, but its also very retro, isn’t it? Thankfully, today’s cloth diapers include many options that don’t look or behave like yesteryears cloth diapers. One thing’s for certain— they’re way cuter than any disposable! and so far in my experience they hold up against baby waste just as well.


Click here to read Why Every Mom Can and Should Use Cloth Diapers for Their Baby.


My child is currently only 4 months old, and although I made the commitment to use cloth during my pregnancy, the diaper service I signed up for didn’t carry cloth diapers that fit his skinny thighs… he only just grew into them a few weeks ago. So for most of the last 120 days, I have used disposables *gasp!* and because for most of that time he burned through 8-10 diapers each day, much to my own chagrin, that means I have so far contributed something like 960-1,200 disposable diapers to our local landfill. And I am sickened with the guilt of it every day! 


But to be honest, I found disposables to be extremely convenient, and at times I allowed myself to feel complacent about tossing them in the garbage, all the while knowing that the chemicals, the bleach, and the plastics were laying snug and wet on top of my son’s private parts. I had even considered cancelling my diaper service, because, like most other moms out there, I too felt the weight of “extra responsibility,” as if tossing a cloth diaper into a hamper is less convenient than throwing a disposable into the trash. 


But I didn’t cancel my service, and I have been using the cloth, even though there is a huge stack of disposables sitting on the shelf of the changing table. And you know what? I use both. Because even if I only use one cloth diaper every day, that is 365 diapers each year that are not in a landfill, and even that small commitment makes such a huge difference! 


America pollutes the earth with something like 22 billion disposable diapers every year. According to the latest consensus, there were almost 4 million newborns in America last year… Let’s triple that number to include every baby up to three years old, around the age most children are fully potty trained. So if every child in America up to 3 years old reduced their number of disposable diapers by using just one cloth diaper a day, that would prevent 4,380,000,000 diapers from clogging our landfills every year!


I can’t help but cringe at the thought of all of the moms-to-be out there who have hosted baby shower raffles offering prizes based on the amount of disposable diapers donated to their newborn. All of that money and effort could and should be put towards a cloth diaper service! When I registered my baby shower with Babylist, I was able to create a fund-drive for a cloth diaper service with Crunchy Babies, here in the Reno-Tahoe area. The money I received paid for 12 weeks of diaper service!


Click here to read Why Every Mom Can and Should Use Cloth Diapers for Their Baby.


Would I still feel the same determination to cloth diapers if I weren’t using a service, and instead laundering them all myself? I think so, even though I absolutely loathe doing laundry. Now that I have a washing machine and dryer in my house (and not having to drive to a laundromat like I’ve done for the last 18 years), I think I could make the commitment to washing them myself. Grovia has amazing tips on washing cloth diapers.


Its recommended to wash them every other day, so they’re not sitting dirty for extended periods of time, and you won’t have to purchase as many diapers upfront. The process is something like, remove and flush waste as soon as possible, spray with an all natural cloth diaper cleaner, toss in the hamper, and on laundry day: pre-wash, wash, hang out to dry (or tumble dry low). 


But having a diaper service isn’t much more costly than buying disposables. I have been paying about $35 for Pampers Pure disposable diapers, and getting 92 diapers in the box. Those 92 diapers last me less than 2 weeks. In contrast, my diaper service costs $35 each week for about 40 clean diapers to be delivered to my door, with the dirty ones picked up and washed so that I don’t have to bother with it. There are cheaper services out there too— depending on what kind of diapers you receive, whether or not you sign up for delivery or choose to pick up/ drop off yourself, you can find diaper service for as little as $20 a month in some areas!


The extra cost is worth it to me (thankfully, our household can manage it), because I can rest assured that my dollars aren’t being sent straight to landfill and polluting the planet. Instead, I’m supporting a local mom-&-pop business, I’m Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling, and once my child graduates from his size diaper, they will be cleaned and reused by another family (or if in bad shape, recycled into towels for household cleaning)! According to The Real Diaper Association, a cloth diaper can be reused 50-200 times before transitioning into a cleaning towel!


For those moms that aren’t afraid to wash their cloth diapers, they’ll actually save money. The Thirsty Babies website has a Customer Savings Calculator that helps you determine how much money you’ll save when switching to cloth. They estimate that you can potentially save $1,700 (from eco-friendly disposables) every year by managing your cloth diapers at home! 


I haven’t yet talked about the fact that the majority of disposable diapers are made with chemicals, chlorine bleach and plastics, that not only contaminate the earth, but pose all kinds of risks to your child’s reproductive parts (though nothing has so far been substantiated by scientific studies). I can’t help but wonder if the “innovation” of disposables over the last 20 years is contributing to the higher rates of cancer in both men and women, as well as lower testosterone rates in boys and adult men? One thing is certain, however, is that cotton, hemp or bamboo— the only materials ever used in cloth diapers— serve zero risk to our children. 


So for most families out there, going cloth seems like an easy and sensible choice! Of course, there are many families whose economic realities don’t permit them to go cloth — the costs are upfront, and going to the laundromat every other day is not a priority between juggling multiple jobs. But for all of the more economically advantaged across the globe, continuing to choose disposable seems rather inexcusable! 


I am doing my absolute best to continue with cloth diapers for as long as possible. Over time, he will use fewer diapers (though the mess will get messier), and hopefully my husband will become more accustomed to choosing cloth over disposable when he changes our son. But if every family, even for a short time, chooses cloth over disposable diapers, our planet will be a healthier place for us all to live!

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