Cloth or Disposables? Rachel Friel, V.P.
Babee Greens, Asheville, NC
As a parent to a newborn or child in diapers, one of the many choices you will have to make is whether to use disposable diapers or cloth. In our fast-paced world, most parents understandably think convenience and don’t even consider cloth diapers as an option. But consider this: putting your baby in cloth can help protect his or her health, save your family thousands, and help the environment.
Research now shows that there are compelling reasons to choose cloth for the health of your baby. First, disposable diapers contain traces of many chemicals that are linked to health problems such as Dioxin, Trubutyl-tin (TBT), and Sodium Polyacrylate (SAP).
Dioxin, a by-product of the paper bleaching process, has been listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer linked chemicals. It is banned in most countries, but not in the U.S. TBT is known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.
Other potential concerns include:
Chemicals and fragrances in some disposables can cause asthma.
A possible link between the use of disposable diapers and infertility in boys.
Known health benefits include:
Babies have less diaper rash with cloth diapers than with disposables.
They also potty train earlier because they feel the wetness in cloth diapers.
The average cost to diaper a baby from birth to potty training in disposable diapers is at least $2,500. For as little as $500 you can cloth diaper your baby for the same period of time and you can reuse cloth on a second child (and even turn them into dust cloths when you are done with diapers). So although cloth diapering does require an initial investment, the cost savings is significant.
Consider these environmental concerns related to disposable diapers:
Over 300 lbs. of wood, 50 lbs. of petroleum feedstocks and 20 lbs. of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for one baby each year.
Disposables use twice as much water to manufacture, three times more energy, and twenty times more raw materials than cloth.
Disposables generate 60 times more waste than cloth.
They are the third largest single consumer item in landfills.
In a house with a child in diapers, disposables make up 50% of household waste.
No one knows how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but it is estimated to be about 250-500 years.
The convenience of disposables may be costing your baby, your bank account, and the earth more than you can afford.