People have many different reasons for using cloth diapers (and cloth menstrual pads), but my reason in the beginning was to save money as well as for health reasons. Here are are some of the most common reasons for choosing cloth as opposed to disposable paper and plastic:
1. ENVIRONMENTAL REASONS: Disposable diapers are the third most common item found in our landfills. The average disposable diaper takes an average of 500 years to break down!! Therefore, the waste from disposable diapers is ever increasing. There is also concern about what is left in the diapers. If you read the package of any disposable diaper, it states that you should discard any solids into the toilet, but how many people do you know do that?? It is actually against the law to put human waste into landfills! Over 100 intestinal viruses are brought to landfills because of disposable diapers. Add to this all the trees that are cut down to make those diapers, as well as all the natural resources used to transport those diapers all over the world! Disposables are not eco-friendly!
What about all the water needed to wash cloth diapers?? Today there are many energy-efficient washing machines and dryers available. They use much less energy than those of long ago. One load of diapers every 2 to 3 days is nothing!
2. COST: The average parents spend between $1500 and $2500 on disposable diapers during the 3 years it takes the average child to become toilet trained. Using cloth diapers can save a lot of money! You can purchase a nice stash of diapers for between $200 and $500, giving you a savings of $1300 and $2000!! You can save even more money by using cloth wipes as well, and making your own wash solution at home. The water used to wash 2 loads of diapers each week uses no extra water than if the child was potty trained and flushing the toilet each time. When washing diapers, it is recommended you only use 1/4 to 1/2 the amount of detergent you would use on regular laundry. So the cost of detergent is not a factor. You can save even more energy and money by hanging the diapers out to dry, either outside in the sun or inside on a drying rack. Natural sunshine is a natural bleach, which helps remove stains, and also the UV rays kill bacteria. One last point is that you will be able to resell those used diapers once you are finished with them for even more money saving value!
3. SKIN CARE: I don't know about you, but personally, I would rather wear soft cotton underwear, than paper and plastic! Here is the ingredient list from Pampers: wood pulp, absorbant gelling material, petrolatum, stearyl alcohol, aloe, polyethylene and polypropylene (plastics), cellulose tissue, elastic and perfume. The "gelling material" contains Sodium Polyacrylate and this is what you see stuck to your child's skin and genitals in the form of tiny gel beads. It is this material that has been linked to allergic reactions in some children. Disposables in general are linked to an increase in childhood asthma and a decrease in sperm count in boys. Opinion differ as to what causes more diaper rash, cloth or disposables. Diaper rash is caused by an increase in microbial growth due to prolonged wetness. Since cloth diapers tend to be changed more regularly than disposables (because disposables feel dry even though they are not), disposables have more opportunity to grow bacteria and microbes. Cloth is more breathable compared to disposables, and allows the skin to breathe...especially when cloth is paired with a breathable wool cover! And perhaps that diaper rash is actually a reaction to the dyes and chemicals found in disposables!
4. OTHER REASONS include Faster Potty Training: Cloth diapered babies actually potty train sooner and with less effort from their parents than babies who wear disposables. This comes from the fact that cloth diapers actually allow babies to feel that they are wet, which teaches them how their own bodies work. Convenience is another reason - yes really!! No more late night trips to the store to buy diapers because you ran out. You will have less garbage to carry to the curb. Supporting Small Businesses is one of the great benefits of using cloth. Their are many work at home moms (WAHMs) who make and sell cloth diapers and accessories (like myself) who would love your support, instead of giving your money to huge corporations. Many parents choose cloth To Be Unique and have all kinds of fun styles and prints to choose from.
IF YOU ARE STILL NOT CONVINCED...
Disposables contain the following chemicals:
Sodium Plyacrylate - This is the chemical added as powder form to the inner pad of disposable diapers that makes it super absorbant. When it becomes wet, it turns into a gel.
Properties - It can absorb up to 100X its own weight in water. It can stick to a babies genitals, causing allergic reactions. Reported to cause severe skin irritations, oozing blood from perineum and scrotal tissues, fever, vomiting and staph infections in babies. Banned from tampons in 1985 because of its link to Toxic Shock Syndrome. Has killed children after they ingested as little as 5 grams. Causes female organ problems, slows healing wounds, fatigue and weight loss to the employees in factories that manufacture it.
DIOXIN - This is a chemical bi-product of the paper bleaching process, using chlorine gas in the manufacturing of disposables.
Properties - It is a carcinogenic (cancer causing chemical). The EPA lists it as the Most TOXIC of all cancer-linked chemicals. In small quantities it causes birth defects, skin/liver disease, immune system suppression and genetic damage in lab animals. Has already been banned in most countries.
TRIBUTYL TIN (TBT) - An environmental pollutant, considered highly toxic, that spreads through the skin and has a hormone-like effect in the smallest concentrations.
Properties - It harms the immune system and impairs the hormonal system. Speculated to cause sterility in boys.
SO NOW THE QUESTION BECOMES....WHY USE DISPOSABLES???
McConnell, Jane. "The Joy of Cloth Diapers"
Caldwell, Ginny. "Diapers, Disposable or Cotton?"
"New Tests Confirm TBT Poison in Proctor & Gamble Pampers (R): Greenpeace demands worldwide ban of Organotins in All Products" (15 May 2000)
Allison, Cathy. "Disposable Diapers : Potential Health Hazards"
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