The Diaper Dilemma

Diaper waste

Most women when beginning their journey towards motherhood have concerns.  The list can vary but usually includes: Will I be able to protect my baby from harm? Will my baby be healthy and normal? Will I be able to birth this child?  and the list goes on.  I definitely have had thoughts about all those but oddly enough my obsessive worry for months now has been DIAPERS!  Now, it may seem like a trivial thing especially when compared to the question “Will I be able to care for my child?” but for me the diaper thing really stressed me out.

So as many of you may know, having a child is the worst thing you can do for the environment.  According to the NY times if you take, for example, a hypothetical American woman who switches to a more fuel-efficient car, drives less, recycles, installs more efficient light bulbs, and replaces her refrigerator and windows with energy-saving models. If she had two children, the researchers found, her carbon legacy would eventually rise to nearly 40 times what she had saved by those actions. That’s huge!  And that impact is directly correlated to where that woman lives.  An American woman who has a baby will generate nearly seven times the carbon footprint of that of a Chinese woman who has a child, the study found.  A lot of this has to do with the level of consumerism here in the States.  All the “needed” plastic, may I say, cr@p and in my opinion disposable diapers all contribute to this through their production and then their ultimate immortality in landfills.

Diaper waste

So for me, diapers were something that I felt I had some control over.  I already knew for certain that I wasn’t going to use plastic disposable diapers (huggies, pampers, etc).  Then there are the “eco-friendly” disposable diaper that you can buy at the Co-op or Whole Foods that are better for your baby because there aren’t any harsh chemicals involved but “eco-friendly” is still a relative term here.  For example, disposable diapers require more raw materials to manufacture. And they generate more landfill solid waste that can take an extremely long time to degrade.  According to some sources, they also use more water to produce than washing cloth ones.  It’s estimated that 95% of American families use disposable, eco-friendly or not.  The average child will use between 8,000-10,000 diapers by the time he/she is potty trained.  That’s somewhere between $3,000 to $4,000 on diapers for that single child!

Ok.  So I got pretty clear that I would like to avoid disposable if possible.  But what about the fact that I will have NO TIME trying to juggle an infant and grad school.  Isn’t my time worth something as well?  I began to research the hybrid diaper.  I had nannied for a family that had used G Diapers and it seemed to be an ok route to take.  I liked the idea that you can alternate between a biodegradable disposable/flushable insert and a cloth insert.  Seemed to me like the best of both worlds.  So I began to read reviews.  Unfortunately, they haven’t received the best reviews :-(.  There went my seemingly “perfect” plan!  I kept reading the words blow out! Not something I really want to experience first hand.  So I decided to take my questions to my local eco-baby store, Indigo Baby.  

The owner was awesome!  I told her about my concerns and she totally understood.  She too had spent 3 months researching diapers before her first child.  Unfortunately for her, there wasn’t an Indigo Baby store for her to use as a reference.  So I asked her about the G diaper.  She had experienced blow outs.  😦  But after sharing with her my needs and concerns, she showed me the Thirsties All in One Duo Wrap.  She reminded me that the brand was less important than the all in one style.  This diaper gave me the convenience and absorbing factor of a disposable but with the environment and wallet saving benefits of a cloth.  I could add a flushable liner so that I didn’t have to mess with the poop too!  Buying 24 diapers would allow me to wash every other day and would be increasing my laundry by about 2-3 loads a week.  Now these diapers are not the cheapest of all the cloth options at about $15 a piece but they will offer me the convenience factors that I desire.  And still I will save a couple thousand dollars over the next few years.  I just have an upfront investment.

I feel that if we are in a position to choose which kind of diapers we use, considering cloth is definitely worth looking into.  Think of all those disposable diapers sitting in the landfill.  Is that the kind of environment you want your child to have to deal with later on?  And if you don’t have the time or money to invest in cloth, I wasn’t trying to make you feel bad.  There are plenty of other ways to decrease the environmental impact of our children.  Second hand toys is a biggy!!!


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