There is a need for eco friendly diapers. Conventional disposable diapers are not very eco friendly. Actually, they are quite eco nasty when you look at the volume and impact. Thanks in part to the work of the National Association of Diaper Services public consciousness about this problem is on the rise.
The average baby uses approximately 6,000 diapers between birth and the age of two. This comes to about 60 diapers a week.
Over twenty pounds of chlorine, fifty pounds of petroleum, and three hundred pounds of wood are used to produce the number of disposable diapers a single baby uses in a year. And even though the instructions on disposable diaper packages direct the consumer to deposit fecal matter in the toilet before discarding, less than one in twenty people follow these directions, sending feces to the landfill, instead.
Disposable diapers are the third largest single item taking up space in landfills (after food/beverage containers and newspapers). Eighteen billion disposable diapers go into landfills every year. They can take up to 500 years to completely decompose. That's not exactly treading lightly on the earth.
Want a few more reasons why conventional disposables are not an eco friendly choice for diapers? OK, here you go:
There are two outstanding eco-friendly disposable diapers on the market right now. Tushies brand is a disposable diaper made from chlorine-free wood pulp with no extra chemicals or gels. This cotton-blend diaper is assembled in the US with certified non-chlorine bleached wood pulp from sustainable forests in Scandinavia and domestic materials.
Nature Babycare is, according to their website, the first ECO-friendly high-performance diaper, based on new green technology, protected by a Swedish patent. It has an exclusive 100% chlorine-free absorbent material and the material against the baby's skin is based on corn instead of plastic, like traditional diapers. 100% compostable, breathable and extremely kind for your baby. Even the packaging is 100% compost-able and is also made from corn. Corn that has not been genetically modified, which is an indication or mark of excellence among eco friendly product producers.
7th Generation diapers and G-diapers, which are brands that promote themselves as eco friendly diapers, both contain absorbent gel made with sodium polyacrylate. The health considerations associated with absorbent gel may put them out of the running for your eco friendly baby. Yes, they have less impact than your average traditional diaper but are not the ideal solution.
In addition to being free of the chemicals found in conventional disposable diapers, cloth diapers are reusable, recyclable, and usually compost-able. They are usually soft and comfortable for your little one as well.
One clever way to pick the diapers you'll use for your baby is to wrap one tightly around your forearm and leave it there for an hour or so. Then, ask yourself is you would want that on your bum all day?
But depending on your lifestyle, including your own washing facilities and availability to eco friendly diaper services, cloth diapers may or may not be right for you.
Cloth diapers are far easier to wash than you might think. Remove any solid waste from the surface of the diaper (moist disposable wipes are particularly convenient for this!) and flush down the toilet.
Wash diapers in warm water with minimal detergent and dry on the line (for extra eco friendly diaper points!) or in the dryer. Use a mild, eco friendly, fragrance free detergent on these diapers, as harsh chemicals might irritate your baby's skin.
Anytime you notice an odor from the diapers OR about every ten washes, wash them with a quarter cup of white vinegar instead of detergent. This gets rid of detergent build-up and residual odor, keeping your cloth diapers fresh, soft, and cuddly on your baby's skin.
The National Association of Diaper Services maintains a handy-dandy listing of approved cloth diaper services at their site. Many of the services promote themselves as eco friendly, although what that means exactly varies by service.
Call the ones closest to you for more information. Warning, many diaper services are not eco-friendly. They may not be mindful of energy or water use, and many use chlorine bleach to wash diapers.
If you don't know whether a diaper delivery service is eco friendly or not, just ask! They should be happy to share information about their practices. If they are sheepish about their answers on your basic eco questions, you may want to consider running the other way, as this usually means they simply don't value earth friendly practices as part of their business or have something to hide.
There's not one "best" kind of diaper, although there might be a "best" one for you! Here's a breakdown of the types of eco friendly cloth diapers available today to help you decide which ones to buy:
A set of eco friendly diapers for your child can cost anywhere from around $300 to over $1000, depending on the brand and style of the diapers. It really depends on your budget and tastes. If you're ambitious enough to sew your own, you can whip up a starter set for around a hundred dollars.
Washing method is also a consideration in overall cost. Cloth diapers that you wash yourself can cost as little as a nickel per use, or between eight and fifteen cents per use if you use a diaper service.
Disposable diapers, on the other hand, cost between fourteen and thirty-two cents per use. And because conventional disposables are so absorbent, children wearing them can't feel wetness when they urinate, which causes potty training to be more difficult and making it necessary to use diapers longer.
There are a huge number of brands to choose from on the market today. Some of the most popular and well-reviewed cloth diaper brands on the market today include:
Both eco friendly disposable diapers and cloth diapers are available in increasing numbers as our culture becomes more eco conscious. You can buy Nature Babycare eco friendly diapers at many Toy R Us and at stores listed on their website: Natyusa.com/links.htm. You can find Tushies in alternative stores such as Whole Foods Market or health food stores, or buy them in bulk from the company and have them delivered to their door.
While larger cities will have stores that feature cloth diapers, they aren't quite as widely available as disposables. If you live in a smaller suburban or rural town area, or if you just want the widest selection possible, your best bet is probably to buy them online.
Here are some of the best online sources for cloth diapers that I was able to find for you:
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