Choosing the type of diaper that you will use for your baby is one of the most important decisions that you will make in your commitment to green living and your baby’s health. There was a time when all diapers were green. Before the advent of disposable diapers, women used natural cotton to diaper their babies. The advent of the disposable diaper was revolutionary, freeing women from the drudgery of the endless washing that went along with cloth diapers. They were super absorbent, so you did not have to worry as much about leaks.
Disposable diapers seemed like the answer to the prayers of women everywhere. But, there was a sinister and smelly dark side to disposable diapers. Those millions of diapers piling up in landfills created a Mount Everest sized environmental disaster. If this is not bad enough, untreated waste can contaminate groundwater. The need to develop alternatives became a priority. Now, several alternatives are available that provide environmentally friendlier alternatives to disposable diapers.
Disposable diapers raise several health concerns for your baby. The first of which is what goes into them. Diaper manufacturers do not have to supply this information to consumers and are exempt from many of the reporting laws. Therefore, the actual content of diapers is unknown, as are the affects that they may have on your baby. Several studies were conducted around 10 years ago that pointed to the presence of potentially hazardous materials in diapers, but no recent information can be found on this.
Regardless of whether claims of toxic chemicals in diapers are true or not, disposable diapers cause another problem. They are known for their high absorbency. This is good in terms of leak prevention, but it also means that the baby does not need to be changed as often. When babies sit in the moisture, it causes diaper rash. Let’s examine the alternatives to disposable diapers that are now available.
Biodegradable diapers were developed to help resolve the landfill problem. Makers of these diapers claim that they break down completely, making them an earth friendly alternative to traditional disposable diapers. However, there is much debate about whether they are truly better than other disposable alternatives. Although, a key component of them is cornstarch, they only degrade under optimal conditions. In a landfill, they are not exposed to air, cannot grow the bacteria needed to break them down, and other components of good composting basics. Unless they are under good conditions for composting, they will only break down slightly faster than regular disposables. This still does not solve the problem of bacteria laden solid and liquid wastes contaminating the local water supply. Biodegradable diapers do not resolve many of the problems associated with disposable diapers.
Now there are flushable diaper liners available that can make cleanup easier for both cloth and disposable diapers. These liners make clean up easier and avoid the waste from being integrated into the local groundwater. Using the liners allows the waste to be processed via standard treatment methods. This solves one of the problems. So what can a conscientious mother do?
In the end, the most eco-friendly solution to the diaper problem is the cotton diaper. In the not so distant past, cloth diapers meant hiring a diaper service, folding, pinning and leaks caused by a poor fit. This is not the case any more. The new and improved generation of cotton diapers solves all of these problems.
The new generation of cloth diapers is form fitted to your baby. They contain a superabsorbent core, while remaining thinner than the older versions. They have hook and loop closures around the waist and legs for a snug, comfortable fit. The new generation of cloth diapers is wonderful on baby’s skin. The cloth diapers of today are more absorbent than their predecessors, but you still have to change them more often, which results in fewer diaper rashes. They are breathable and allow for better air circulation too.
The new generation of cloth diapers solves the landfill problem, as they only need to be replaced when they wear out. They break down completely and compost more rapidly than the other alternatives. Solid waste can be flushed so that it goes through the waste treatment system. They can be washed and tumble-dried. For extra leak protection, diaper covers are available that can also be machine-washed.
Cost wise, cotton diapers are much cheaper in the long run. Although they are more expensive than disposable diapers, the initial cost pays for itself in a very short time as compared to the continual expense of disposable diapers. The ability to wash them yourself eliminates the need for a diaper service. Cloth diapers can do something that disposables cannot do. They can grow with your baby. All you have to do is to adjust the hook and loop closures.
Today’s new generation of cloth diapers are a drastic improvement over their fold and pin predecessors. The new generation of cloth diapers solves many of the problems associated with the disposable diaper problem. They do not end up in a landfill until they have more than served their useful lifespan. Even when they have worn out, they are completely biodegradable. They solve the groundwater problem, as the waste is processed via the treatment system. They also solve many problems associated with diaper rash and irritation to baby’s skin. The new generation of cloth diapers is clearly the green choice. I wish they had been around when mine were in diapers; they would have been the clear choice. Check out the wonderful cloth diapers, diaper covers, and other related items on this website. Your baby, you and the planet will be happy that you did! Now, if someone could just invent a solution for 3:00 AM feedings, we would be all set.
Shop our collection of Green Diapers at Parental Guide.