An increasingly more common debate in the last few years among parents and couples has been to question what type of diaper to actually use for their babies. People are becoming more aware of environmental issues. They want to know more about what they’re putting in their diaper bags. There are plastic disposables with which we all are familiar, there are the old traditional cloth diapers, and now new hybrids that combine an outer cloth permanent diaper with a inner material disposable.
Check out this stat: over 1% of all trash in landfills is disposable diapers. Is that something or what? Here are some other interesting facts to note: Over 27 billion disposable diapers are used just in the USA alone every year. According to Wikipedia, that translates to a potential 3.4 million tons of used diapers that go into landfills every year. That’s not a beautiful thing to ponder now is it. So there are clearly multiple issues to think about for those who want to make an educated choice.
Let’s look at cloth diapers: they have the advantage of being washable and thus reusable. The baby will have no real reaction to such a diaper. They are typically made of thicker cotton, or more recent offerings also have hemp and bamboo as core materials. It’s known that the plastics, sticky tabs and chemicals used in disposables can irritate a baby’s skin. So avoiding these is a good benefit.
The drawbacks for some parents are that cloth diapers require more changing, as the material simply won’t absorb as much waste as the shaped plastics. Depending on your perspective, some parents may see that as a plus, because the diapers are not really a personal toilet. They probably should be changed and washed as soon as they are soiled, yeah?
The other drawback from an environmental perspective is that significantly more detergent will be used over the lifetime of a cloth diaper. And thus more chemical waste into the environment. Although in reality, my guess is that this is still a substantially better environmental alternative that endless amounts of waded-up plastic diaper stacked high in a landfill.
A viable and real alternative on the market now for parents is the hybrid diaper. One brand known as g diaper has a flushable inner liner with a reusable shell. The flushable piece degrades in water (though with the help of your ‘swishstick’ usage to break it up a bit before the flush). I’ve not yet used these but I know one family who is a big fan and they feel better about the amount of trash they are not producing!
Seventh Generation also has a diaper that is easier on the environment. It technically is not a true hybrid, as the diaper actually is disposed when used. However, they consist of much less material than a typical plastic diaper and have none of the chemicals and fragrances. So when disposed, these diapers will take up a whole lot less space, and leave a softer footprint on the soil than those with chemical leaching into the ground.