A guest post form the states that echoes across the western world
A newborn generally uses up to 10 or 12 diapers every day. Considering the high cost of disposable diapers and their environmental impact, some parents have decided to go back to the old fashioned way. In other words, cloth diapers are back. Nevertheless, they are quite different from the ones our grandmothers were using: much more stable, comfortable and stylish, they stay in place with the help of snaps or Velcro rather than safety pins. One inconvenient and inevitable aspect remains, however: they call for a lot of washing! When they weigh the pros and the cons of both disposable and reusable diapers, today’s parents are faced with a dilemma: which kind should they opt for?
The very first disposable diaper was invented more than 60 years ago. In an era defined by productivity and efficient time management, disposable diapers respond to a very modern complaint: the lack of time. Nobody can deny the practical aspect of changing their baby’s diaper and simply putting it all in the trashcan once it is done. The absence of duty to wash cloth diapers and babies’ clothes separately is a huge relief for most parents and can also represent significant savings both on the energy bill and in terms of laundry detergent in the long run.
Still, very few people question that reusable diapers yield much more substantial money savings. Once the cloths are bought, all that remains to be done is to wash them constantly and meticulously. They produce about 70 times less municipal waste than disposable diapers, which brings many to say that are more eco-friendly. They come in various shapes, styles and types. Some cloth diapers, for instance, are 100% made of natural fibers while others mix washable coverings with disposable and flushable inserts, thereby representing an interesting alternative for parents who hate sending too much material to the landfill while being reluctant to constantly having to use the washing machine.
Disposable diapers raise a lot of eyebrows when it comes to their environmental aspect. Not only do they call for the use of a lot of both natural and chemical materials as well as water and energy to be manufactured in the first place, but their disposal represents about 2% of total household wastes in America. Actually, more than 27 billion disposable diapers are used every year in the United States, which translates into about 3.5 million tons of waste on a yearly basis. What’s more, some companies claim that their product is biodegradable, but the consumer has to be aware that most diapers include some plastic components that can take hundreds, if not thousands of years to biodegrade.
As to cloth diapers, their maintenance is not without environmental consequences either. Not only do they call for the use of the washing and drying machines (which means important energy and water consumption), but they also call for the use of cleansing agents that are not always green. Eco-friendly detergents are available on the market, but they can be more costly. What’s more, cloth diapers’ very production also is an energy intensive process, for they represent intricate, well-designed clothing accessories made of sophisticated materials.
The answer lies in consumption habits
All in all, it is undeniable that both disposable and reusable diapers each have their own upsides and downsides. If one’s primary concern is to save money, then reusable cloth diapers probably are the best option. On the other hand, if one only seeks to save time and energy, disposable diapers appear as the solution. Nevertheless, when the environmental damage caused by both disposable and reusable diapers also happens to be a concern of parents, the adoption of responsible consumption habits is at hand.
In effect, if one opts for disposable diapers, he or she always has the choice to choose a brand of fully biodegradable diapers whose production does not involve the use of chemicals or environmentally damaging substances. The same logic applies to someone who decides to go for cloth diapers: choosing a brand that uses organic materials, buying eco-friendly detergent and bringing the number of laundry loads to a minimum can contribute to limiting the environmental damage that diapers cause. Using diapers is pretty much inevitable, but which kind is used and how they are used ultimately represent choices that remain in the hands of the consumer!
About the author:
Alexandre Duval is a blogger for Service 2000, a home appliances repair services company in Montreal.