Why Should I Use Cloth Diapers?

Sara Shaheen - Friday, June 25, 2010

Even though cloth diapers have become more popular over the past few years, once in a while, I will get the question “why should I use cloth diapers?” or “is it really going to save me money to use cloth diapers rather than disposables?”

Here are some reasons why I believe in using cloth diapers:

1. Cloth diapers are reusable and thus environmentally friendly. On the contrary, disposable diapers can only be used once, obviously, and then end up in a landfill and remain there for hundreds & hundreds of years without decomposing. Even the so called “biodegradable” disposable diapers need light & oxygen to biodegrade and which is almost impossible when they are buried in the landfills. As a result, it also takes hundreds of years for those “biodegradable” diapers to decompose.

2. Based on research, it takes over 200,000 trees a year and around 80,000 pounds of plastic to manufacture the disposable diapers for American babies alone!

3. The disposable diapers can contaminate ground water as they are placed in the landfills untreated.

4. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Diapers made up 2.1 percent of U.S. garbage or 3.4 million tons of waste, in landfills in 1998 -- the last year this information was collected.

5. Some people argue that washing cloth diapers uses up more energy and water add to the load on sanitary water system. The truth is the amount of water used to wash cloth diapers at home is almost equivalent to the amount of water an average person uses when flushing the toilet 4-5 times par day. And when it comes to the energy usage, here is all you need to know:

“Just consider the energy and fossil fuels used to cut down and transport thousands of trees to make the paper pulp used in a disposable diaper, not to mention the devastation this causes to our national forests. Water and energy are then used to create this paper pulp and bleach it. Even more energy is used to make the outer plastic shells and then assemble the diaper. These diapers are then packaged in plastic wrappings and put in cardboard boxes, which also had to be specially made for transporting these diapers. It doesn’t end there, however; these diapers are then transported from the factory all over the country and all over the world using trains, trucks, and cargo planes, so that they can be delivered to the stores that sell them to the public. No doubt, more energy is wasted by the consumer who must drive to and from these stores to make their purchase. To make matters worse, these consumers use these diapers and throw them away, essentially throwing their money in the garbage as well. The garbage must then be transported to a landfill using even more energy and fuel. This energy consumption is never ending. Cloth diaper users reduce, reuse, and recycle. Can any disposable diaper users claim that?”

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Moreover, when you flush the solids from a cloth diaper into the toilet then wash your diapers in the washing machine, the contaminated water goes into the sewer system where it is properly treated.

6. The cost of cloth diapers is absolutely less than buying disposables especially if they are used for a second child. Good high quality cloth diapers can last for a few years and thus save you a lot of money.

       Want the facts?

  • The average baby goes through 5,000-6,000 diapers before being potty-trained. 
  • You will save $1000-$2000 over the course of 2 years by using cloth diapers.
  • The average parent spends $2,694.54 for 7,349 disposable, single-use diapers (source: Natural Family Online) while you can spend $400 on cloth diapers that will last you the 2 years before potty training and then reuse them for your next child if you have one.

7. Disposable diapers can contain all kinds of toxic dyes, sodium Polyacrylate which is used in the highly absorbent gel as well as Dioxin, which is a byproduct of bleaching paper. Polyacrylate was linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome, a bacteria-caused illness in 1985 and was removed from tampons. There was no such connection proven for that link in the use of it in disposable diapers and so it is still used!

Many of the chemicals and toxins used in disposables are linked to allergies and rashes in babies and other serious reactions. There have also been cases reported of babies pulling the disposable diapers apart and putting pieces of it in their mouth or nose.

8. Disposable diapers prevent proper ventilation and thus cause more rashes than cloth diapers. They also tend to feel dry when wet and if not changed frequently, that can also contribute to diaper rashes.

9. “The one study that does give cloth diapers a leg up in health benefits for baby boys appeared in the October 2000 issue of the Disease in Childhood medical journal. In that article, German researchers found that the scrotal skin temperatures of baby boys were significantly higher when they wore disposable diapers than when they wore cloth. While the scientists called for more research, their article suggested that prolonged use of disposable diapers as infants was an "important factor" contributing to the decline of sperm production among adult males. Proctor & Gamble conducted its own study and also found that scrotal skin temperatures increased for boys in disposable diapers, although not to the degree that the German scientists showed, Kuta said.”

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These are the main reasons I recommend using cloth diapers over disposables. There are many more and the list can keep on going.

In the end, there is no right or wrong, it is a personal choice and some parents are just not ready to make that change and commit to cloth diapering or their lifestyle does not allow them to.

My mission is to try and educate people about cloth diapers and show them how easy they are to use these days. Cloth diapers have come a loooong looong way and using them is simple and most certainly rewarding!

I have been using cloth diapers for my son and will absolutely use them for my second. A simple gift we can give our children and they will thank us tomorrow.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle