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Cloth vs Disposable Crisis!

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I'm having a total cloth vs. disposable diaper crisis. The literature is not complete. The literature doesn't mean me!

Conventional wisdom seems to be that cloth has the slight edge environmentally because though they both equal out in terms of water use & chemical use, the cloth doesn't go to a landfill and the disposable does.

But the studies cover conventional disposable diapers. What happens is I use, say, Seventh Generation Chlorine-Free Diapers? And on the other end of the scale, they suggest a lot of ways to make clothies "more green" - washing specific ways, hanging rather than tumble drying, etc. But I don't have a washer or dryer at home - I don't have a lot of control over how my diapers are washed. I throw them in there with some quarters and just choose a temp. These guys recommend an "easy" 10-step laundry process which is utterly impossible for me. My mother insists that I won't want to run down the street with a load of diapers every two days and says if I go cloth I should use a diapering service. Afaik, Toronto has no "green" diaper service. Comfy Cotton - the best choice so far - doesn't specify anywhere on their site what kind of chemicals they use to do the washing, and they clearly machine-dry.

So I'm totally torn. I still lean towards cloth, because anything "disposable" gets my rankles up. But I don't want a service that drives to my door, washes with chemicals and then needlessly machine-dries my nappies. But really, how much better are the 20-year-old coin-laundry machines down the street? Also my mother insists you need to bleach cloth diapers otherwise something or another will grow in them. True? False? I have found no mention of it in the literature.

I'm going to Grassroots in 2h to register for my baby shower... I'd better decide by then. :P

post #2 of 24
My friend used this service in Toronto: http://www.torontothebetter.net/2abcdiaper.htm

She collects and delivers diapers on her bike!

As for the environmental impact, I agree that we don't know 100% for sure yet. But, I know that I feel better using cloth, and can control my environmental impact. I wash every 3 days, hang to dry, will pass on my diapers when I'm finished with them, etc.

Good luck with your decision!
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by NaturallyBaby View Post
My friend used this service in Toronto: http://www.torontothebetter.net/2abcdiaper.htm

She collects and delivers diapers on her bike!
Boo! She doesn't work in my area (The Annex). Still - good to see someone is doing a friendlier, smaller-scale operation!

post #4 of 24
Here is an article that I think may clear up some issues for you on the washing process of cloth diapers. http://myblessedhome.blogspot.com/20...g.html#article Though I have used bleach on my diapers, it is not at all recommended by most cloth diaper users. It breaks down the fibers and can really irrate a baby's skin if not properly rinsed out.

That being said, I used to wash by hand my diapers, which worked fine with a newborn whose poops are so easy to dispose of (non-stinky woo hoo!). Then after three or so times of that I would take them for a good machine wash at the laundry mat. Once it is a habit, it isn't a bother. It just becomes part of your routine.

I have always hung mine to dry. Getting them exposed to sun, even from a window, helps to keep them white and kills certain bacteria, or so I've read. A mother recommended to me her way of hand washing, and it is what I used. She said to take a five-gallon bucket (laundry mats often will give them away for free), cut a hole in the middle of the lid large enough to fit the handle of a plunger. Put some diapers, water, detergent in the bucket. Thread a new plunger's handle through the lid and secure the lid back onto the bucket. I placed the whole thing in my tub. Then plunge up and down, doing several rinses, till they seem clean to your liking. I even bought on eBay one of those old ringers to get the water out and speed up drying. I hung clothesline near the ceiling in my bathroom and hung them there to dry.

That worked for me in our tiny, one bedroom apartment. Hope that helps, or at least inspires you to find an alternative to 'needing' a washing machine or diaper service.
post #5 of 24
I am doing cloth, but I'm hoping to not have to wash them very often.

I'm trying EC. And seeing my friends 7 month old crawl over to her potty and pee all by herself is my modivation!!! I plan on cloth diapering her using pottytunities times to try to catch a pee!

Just another idea to throw out there.
post #6 of 24
We do cloth, but honestly, if I had to schlep my diapers across town, we'd use sposies.

Part of the appeal to me is the ease of using cloth. It's cheaper and easier to throw a load in the washer than to go buy more diapers at the store. But, using a laundromat would change that greatly.
post #7 of 24
I know this is not related to what's most environmentally friendly, but I sure like the feel of cloth compared to disposable. what about comfort for baby? That's a big consideration of mine. Also, I think the more of us who choose things like cloth diapers, with or without green diaper services, the more we create a demand for such things. So, even if it's a 'wash' (pardon the pun) environmentally, I'm choosing cloth...and probably a diaper service....because the industry will catch up to our demands if we support it.

good luck!
post #8 of 24
We use Cloth I didn't for my first and wish I had. My youngest 2 which I used cloth with never had a single diaper rash and the diapers are so soft on there bum and the money I have saved is amazing! Between Breast Feeding Cloth Diapers and Hand me downs the first year doesn't cost much
post #9 of 24
My vote is for cloth. However, I will humbly admit that if I didn't have a washer, I would not go to a laundrymat with diapers. We have a front load washing machine which is better on water than the top loaders so I think environmentally it's better than disposables. This time around I have the front loader AND a clothes line with wonderful ocean breezes so I'm excited about doing cloth even more so than last time. And don't forget, diapers can be passed down to future kids.

And bleach is a no-no with cloth diapers. I'm sure diaper services probably use it on prefolds but I wouldn't use it personally. The sun does a great job of getting stains out.
post #10 of 24
There are bigger things for me to worry about. I use a combination now. With dd we switched 100% to cloth at 4 months (when I found out about it). It was great and worked well for us. But ds is different, he's potty learning later and his poo really stinks! He out pees any diaper at night too.

I don't feel comfortable using so many nasty chemicals against their genitals so I try to use only Tushies (even 7th Gen still has super absorbant gel!) but they are really freaking expensive.
I don't like putting out so much trash but at least a few brands are biodegradable.

But really there are more important issues to me than diapers. Breastfeeding, circumcision, gentle parenting, etc will make a bigger impact on my children.

Cloth is certainly worth a try though!
post #11 of 24
You can buy some drying racks for the store... Wash them in the coin washer and then dry them in your house.. Or sit the racks outside in the sun....

And Id probably do prefolds and covers and have a HUGE stash so Id only have to wash once a week.. twice at the MOST.

Id go for cloth 100% though But thats me.
post #12 of 24
Originally Posted by christinespurlock View Post
I am doing cloth, but I'm hoping to not have to wash them very often.

I'm trying EC. And seeing my friends 7 month old crawl over to her potty and pee all by herself is my modivation!!! I plan on cloth diapering her using pottytunities times to try to catch a pee!

Just another idea to throw out there.
There was a little blurb about EC in USA Weekend today. They had a quote from a ped saying "I hope people have better things to do with their time than wait for their baby to pee. And there's nothing medically or physically wrong with diapering your child." Okay, defensive much? I'd like to try EC as well.

As far as cloth goes, honestly, the main reason I do it is money. And I do still think cloth comes out ahead environmentally, though maybe not by as much as most enthusiasts will say. I do admit that I use my dryer for them, at least for half an hour in the winter. Because drying in the sun? Yeah, I dont' want to pry my frozen diapers off the line in the middle of winter, which lasts 5 months here. But I hang dry them in the basement after that half hour, which prevents them from being stiff when they are fully dry.
post #13 of 24
What is ECing?
post #14 of 24
post #15 of 24
We used sposies for the first few weeks with my son, and cloth from then on out. And for the first nine months or so that we had cloth, we lived somewhere with no washer or dryer.

We couldn't believe how much easier cloth was, still. The number of blowouts we had with sposies was RIDICULOUS, we would have had to do laundry almost as often anyway. After seeing how much cozier the cloth dipes were, I switched to using cloth pads for myself. (well, for half of one cycle, then we concieved again :P)
post #16 of 24
And if it comes down to it and you use sposies you could always put some fleece liners in them so the nasty stuff isnt directly against your LOs skin.
post #17 of 24
I was in a situation like yours for a short while, having to walk about 1/4 mile to was diapers

I bought more prefolds! LOL. I washed every 3 days... cold wash, cold rinse, and if I could still smell detergent, extra cold rinse. I also washed in super huge washers *with other clothes*, which isn't a big deal at all because it all comes out clean, KWIM? But your white diapers will get colorful this way, beware I did do a HOT wash cycle every now and then, with ONLY the diapers (to avoid fading my other clothes). Since I wasn't nearly as environmentally friendly as you, I did mostly dry my diapers (again w/ other clothes). I had also heard that PUL needs to be dried on hot every now and again... something about the fiber shape? But I could have taken them home to dry on my little $9 drying rack from target

You could always do cloth part time and sposies at night, etc... to cut down on how often you have to wash. Not like it's an all or nothing thing, KWIM?
post #18 of 24
The absorbant gel in disposables is my number one motivator for using cloth. That stuff is bad news! All of the "eco" disposables where I live have it except one. And that one absorbs NOTHING and you have the privilege of paying quite a bit more for it!

So, I believe the cloth is healthier, and it is definitely more economical in the long run. Aside from the laundering, I would say that not supporting the plastics /chemical industries that produce them is in the realm of environmental consciousness. Any other potential environmental benefits are simply a plus!

If I were in your situation, I would go with the diaper service. No question.
post #19 of 24
I live in an apartment complex, and must share the washer/dryer with the entire building, so cloth does not seem like a good alternative. If I had my own, that would be another story. There's no good diaper service near me, either.

We're hoping to do gDiapers, and recycled sposies (like 7th gen). Yes, they both have the gel, but the inserts for the gDiapers get flushed, and can be composted if there's only pee. We'll see if babe reacts to the gel or not, my biggest concern.
post #20 of 24
I'm also going to be an apartment complex (with coin-op laundry). I'm doing cloth (mostly bumgenius one size diapers); wish me luck!

gDiapers seem like a enviro friendly alternative to other disposables as well. They decompose within a month, I believe, (as long as you flush them or throw them out in a bag that isn't plastic). I know cloth diapering requires a lot of water, but the fact that plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose really freaks me out.
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