Was told today that disposables are more environmentally friendly than cloth - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 31 Old 03-19-2011, 07:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a very intelligent friend who is an environmental engineer and she said that between washing and the resources it takes to make cloth diapers that disposables are more eco friendly. I find this hard to believe since if this were true we should all wear disposable clothes, always use paper towels instead of rags, paper plates instead of washing dishes etc. I know there are studies that say using water is really bad for the environment (usually they are backed by diaper companies) but I doubt my extra load of laundry is really worse than putting thousands of diapers in a landfill.  Is my diaper load in my he washer really that evil? I don't think that the people who say sposies are better don't water their lawns or flush the toilet after each use or monitor their shower use or refuse to use pools. 

 

Is there any way she's right?


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#2 of 31 Old 03-19-2011, 08:01 PM
 
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The Green Lantern column in Slate magazine addressed this very question here: http://www.slate.com/id/2187278/

 

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The bottom line is that cloth diapers are greener than run-of-the-mill Pampers and Huggies, as long as you're committed to an energy-efficient laundry regimen. But that commitment takes more than just an EnergyStar washing machine and a clothing line for air drying. It also takes time, a commodity which will be in startlingly short supply once your offspring drops. 

 

 

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#3 of 31 Old 03-19-2011, 08:08 PM
 
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If that were true, then why aren't they advocating paper disposable clothing for everyone?

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#4 of 31 Old 03-19-2011, 08:14 PM
 
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actually it is possible, there was a british government study done a couple of years back ( i had the file saved on my computer, but of course can't find it now) that compared different kinds of cloth diapers to disposable and found there wasn't as great a difference as some people might assume. basically, the study found that if you wash on hot and always use the dryer (and do smaller loads), cloth is no better than disposable diapers in environmental cost. the cost is greatly lessened by washing on cold, using HE machines and line drying. the simpler the diaper, the lower the environmental cost as well... AIO's were not as green as flats or prefolds, for example.

 

it was a bit of a shock when i read it. i thought i was doing this great environmental thing by using cloth, but you have to honest with yourself about how your use of resources is affecting the environment if you really want to make a difference. i still use cloth, but i do tell people to look carefully at how much water and energy their diaper loads are using.

 

i am skeptical of whether my cloth diapering is really that great, to be honest. i have an older machine, wash on hot because i have a one year old with gross poopy dipes, use the dryer frequently because i live in a small apartment without access to a clothesline, and wash every other day or so because otherwise the diapers stink (which means smaller loads). i think that most people are probably washing similarly to me, maybe minus the older machine. if you are able to make the commitment to use a greener diaper (prefolds or flats), wash in large full loads, never use the dryer and cut back on your use of hot water, then cloth is clearly the cleaner choice. otherwise, don't be too sure you're saving the environment.

 

of course, there are other great reasons to use cloth over disposable (cost, chemicals, cost, cuteness factor, cost!). p.s. i am well aware that there were many "studies" put out by disposable diaper companies... this was as legitimately unbiased a study as i ever found. they did say that their sample sizes were smaller than they would have liked since the pool of cloth users was quite small as well.

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#5 of 31 Old 03-19-2011, 08:18 PM
 
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Originally Posted by fruitfulmomma View Post

If that were true, then why aren't they advocating paper disposable clothing for everyone?



probably because i don't know anyone who routinely goes through 10-12 sets of clothing per day and covers approximately half of them with feces which would then need to be washed out with hot water? one t-shirt, one pair of undies and socks and a pair of pants every few days hardly is comparable to the shear volume and dirtiness of the average daily diaper output.

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#6 of 31 Old 03-19-2011, 09:18 PM
 
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your friend is totally discounting the fact that a disposable diaper will sit in a landfill for a 100+ years, but a cloth one will biodegrate far sooner. also, a baby will use thousands of disposables that will end in a landfill, but only 15-40 cloth diapers that may be re-used on subsequent children. for me, that is the bigger issue than the tiny differences in water usage. it is a matter of how many hundreds of square feet of the earth do i want to fill with waste? just because you "dispose of" a disposable, doesn't mean it really goes away.


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I'm from a family with some pretty good environmental engineers who have a consensus that it's pretty much a "wash" between cloth and disposables. 

 

Disposables gave my first a wicked burn, so we switched to cloth from then on until our second child continued to pee at night until 5, which no cloth diaper could contain...so we switched back to pull ups for the last round.

 

You could probably edge cloth up a bit by always line drying, always washing in cold, etc.

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Originally Posted by mamadiamond View Post

your friend is totally discounting the fact that a disposable diaper will sit in a landfill for a 100+ years, but a cloth one will biodegrate far sooner. also, a baby will use thousands of disposables that will end in a landfill, but only 15-40 cloth diapers that may be re-used on subsequent children. for me, that is the bigger issue than the tiny differences in water usage. it is a matter of how many hundreds of square feet of the earth do i want to fill with waste? just because you "dispose of" a disposable, doesn't mean it really goes away.



This is how I think.  I don't understand how using water - a somewhat renewable source, at least right now, it worse than dumping plastic in a landfill for eternity.  There is no way I will believe that it has the same environmental impact.  I also agree with the reusing of the cloth diapers.  I don't know of anyone who uses cloth that has thrown them out.  They get passed onto another child or used as rags. 


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#9 of 31 Old 03-19-2011, 11:14 PM
 
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This is how I think.  I don't understand how using water - a somewhat renewable source, at least right now, it worse than dumping plastic in a landfill for eternity.  There is no way I will believe that it has the same environmental impact.  I also agree with the reusing of the cloth diapers.  I don't know of anyone who uses cloth that has thrown them out.  They get passed onto another child or used as rags. 


This is how I think as well. And I can't imagine the manufacturing of the 52 cloth diapers (prefolds), 10 covers and 2 Snappis compares to the manufacturing of thousands of disposables either. (The fitteds that we use were made by me from worn out t-shirts and sheets- saved from the landfill!) All these diapers will be reused by our second child and then passed on to be used by at least one, if not more children! Sorry, no comparison for me! CLOTH IS BETTER!

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probably because i don't know anyone who routinely goes through 10-12 sets of clothing per day and covers approximately half of them with feces which would then need to be washed out with hot water? one t-shirt, one pair of undies and socks and a pair of pants every few days hardly is comparable to the shear volume and dirtiness of the average daily diaper output.

 

I completely agree. The "paper clothes" argument is specious, to say the least. 

 

Look, we like cloth, but my hubby and I have this debate all the time. He thinks it's better; I think it's a wash. Cloth is definitely more frugal though, which is what gives it the true edge for me. 
 

 

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#11 of 31 Old 03-20-2011, 09:38 AM
 
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one t-shirt, one pair of undies and socks and a pair of pants every few days hardly is comparable to the shear volume and dirtiness of the average daily diaper output.

 

Uh, okay then. Personally I like to change my underwear more often than every few days and I like washing them in hot water, but whatever. I am not comparing diapers vs. clothing. I am comparing disposable vs. reusuable products. If you want an example that requires more volume and hot water, how about dishes? If the argument that disposables take up no more or maybe even less resources than a reusable product holds up, why not use paper plates?

 

Disposable diapers don't eliminate the need for using water in the home. You are supposed to remove fecal matter from them *before* you throw them away. How do you do that without water?

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#12 of 31 Old 03-20-2011, 09:41 AM
 
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I don't think they're taking into account what actually happens in a lot of cases.  Since the introduction of disposable diapers, our kids spend up to 3x longer in diapers than our grandmothers and great-grandmother's children.  I personally spent a little more than a year in diapers (half in cloth, half in disposable) before my grandmother potty trained me, not the 3-5 years some kids do now.  I don't know about other people but my DS has pooped out of every brand of disposable diaper we've ever tried.  Out the legs, out the back, out the front.  Using disposables didn't save me a lot of laundry but left me with orange staining on outfits instead of prefolds.  For a kid that poops something like 6 times a day... I can't be changing full outfits that often!


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I have yet to see a study that takes into account the manufacturing process of disposables.  It takes a hell of a lot of water and other resources (bleaching of the fibers anyone?) to make just one pack of diapers.  And this happens again, and again, and again...at least a hundred times per baby.  Cloth has to be manufactured as well, but we're talking a few dozen diapers, not a couple thousand.

 

Then the diapers have to be trucked in...packs upon packs of disposables. Over and over and over again.  Cloth, you order 3, maybe 4 sizes and you are done (some people even less if they use one-size diapers).

 

With disposables, you still have to wash the baby's clothes when the poop goes everywhere and it DOES.  So you are already doing more washing than you need to.  I had to wash extra clothes, the swing cover, blankets, adult bedding (since they were in the bed with us), car seat cover, ect.  In cloth, we had maybe 2 poo incidents.  I work at a daycare and I see it all the time.  For the first 6 months, these kids are crapping *everywhere*.  For cloth, you do like 2 small loads a week.  Hardly a big deal.

 

Then you have a couple thousand disposables in a landfill PER KID, while the cloth can be used through multiple children, then recycled for cleaning rags.

 

I personally don't see how it's a "wash".  The only "bad" thing cloth has going for it is a little extra water and electricity.  Disposables are not only sitting in landfills, but using water and electricity to manufacture, dumps nasty chemicals from the bleaching process, uses fuel to be trucked in and then aren't even sturdy enough to keep the poop where it belongs, generating more clothes and bedding laundry.

 

I would LOVE to see an actual UNBIASED study of EVERY aspect of both sides. 

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"I would LOVE to see an actual UNBIASED study of EVERY aspect of both sides. "

 

Me too. I read the British study but then read countless articles explaining why it was off. It's hard to know what to think. I don't feel that the studies I've read actually address the idea that in manufacturing 1 cloth diaper = making about 100  to 200 disposables. I can't believe that the cost to the environment to make 200 chemical filled diapers made with plastic and cotton would really be a "wash" with making one polyester all in one or a simple cotton prefold. I get that there is a huge difference in energy for washing and drying things than simply throwing them away. I've been told that even the manufacturing of cloth and disposables are equal, which boggles my mind unless they are comparing making one cloth dipe to one sposie which wouldn't make much logical sense. 

 

Sometimes it seems like every" green" thing has someone saying it's actually bad for the environment. I've heard composting is bad because it creates heat and Co2, that recycling costs more energy that making new things, and then there are those energy efficient light bulbs that if they break can give you mercury poisoning. 

 

I guess I was just a little perturbed to think that one thing that was good for my baby was also good for the earth. Maybe it's just my way of thinking that I felt bad when I used to cart bags and bags of foul smelling diapers out to the curb with my first born but not when I ran a load of his dirty clothes full of spit up and diaper leaks or ran the dishwasher for my pumping equipment and baby stuff etc.  I read an article in mothering and then put him in cloth.   Sometimes if you do enough research nothing makes any sense and it seems like you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

 

I'm not really a crunchy person other than using natural cleaning supplies...I tend to leave the tv and computer on on even though I like to turn out lights, I drive a lot, I run the dishwasher and do laundry everyday. So the one good thing I thought I was doing is actually bad. It's kind of amusing now that I think about it. 


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I'm not really a crunchy person other than using natural cleaning supplies...I tend to leave the tv and computer on on even though I like to turn out lights, I drive a lot, I run the dishwasher and do laundry everyday. So the one good thing I thought I was doing is actually bad. It's kind of amusing now that I think about it. 


Really, don't feel bad.  It's obvious that there's no real evidence that cloth is "bad" or worse than disposables (I highly HIGHLY doubt it).  This other person probably latched onto one little article and used it to justify her choice.  And really it's not a big deal.  If she wants to use sposies, fine.  Whether it's the more "responsible" choice, who knows?  But YOU are at least questioning it all.  You will look at what you are doing and try to do it better, rather than just read one article and stop trying to do the best thing for the environment.  You can reduce the impact diapering makes by using certain types of cloth, washing in certain ways, line drying, ect.  A sposie is a sposie.  I suppose you could "do better" by only changing your kid twice a day, but that's gross. LOL

 

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I personally don't see how it's a "wash".  The only "bad" thing cloth has going for it is a little extra water and electricity.  Disposables are not only sitting in landfills, but using water and electricity to manufacture, dumps nasty chemicals from the bleaching process, uses fuel to be trucked in and then aren't even sturdy enough to keep the poop where it belongs, generating more clothes and bedding laundry.


This. I can't see how it is a "wash" at all. Not only the chemicals sitting against our kids most sensitive areas, but then lets let it leak into the ground for a few hundred years.

I won't repeat everything you said above, but I just can't see how any reasonable argument can last about this. People stress on the water and electricity used for cloth diapers to try to justify saying they aren't better for the earth, but where is the talk about manufacturing disposables and the effects on the earth from having them take up such a huge part of our landfills. Problem with that is that disposables haven't been around long enough to show people quite the extent of how messed up we are going to be from using up so much land to dump diapers in. Unfortunately none of us will be around when those effects are at their worst, and our great great grandchildren will wonder why we did this to their planet when there was such a wonderful alternative.

I don't feel bad for one second for the amount of water or electricity (HE machine and line dry in the summer) I use. I make up for it by not having to make a special trip out because I forgot that we needed disposable diapers.

 

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Is there any way she's right?



Years ago, when I was CDing, there was a woman in our group who had a master's degree in waste management.  She used cloth diapers, mostly for the point of avoiding the chemicals in them, not for environmental reasons.  She said that after doing the research, it really was about the same in terms of the negative effects on the environment, I think mostly because cotton is a heavily pesticided crop.  The things that made disposables worse were using diaper genies or individual bags to dispose of each diaper, and then the chemicals used to manufacture them.  But apparently the disposal issue of dds are just a drop in the bucket when compared to things like wrapping paper, and disposable diapers in landfills could actually help soak up chemical spills.  Also, the worst choice, in her opinion, was a diaper service where they bleached the diapers and used trucks to deliver them.  The things that would make cloth diapers better, in my opinion, would be buying organic unbleached products or recycling other materials into the diapers instead of buying a lot of new fabric; or actually using cloth diapers for more than one child.  A lot of people, however, were really into buying a lot of cloth diapers and getting rid of them so they could buy more, and didn't use them from child to child.  

 

Personally, I still think cloth diapering is better than using disposables, but I have to admit that when my oldest daughter was 3 and we were having energy shortages and being told to conserve water and all that, I gave up for awhile.  I mean trying to get the poop out of the diaper took a lot of banging, swishing and flushing.  She still pooped at least three times a day, it was like catfood smashed in, and no, I didn't rinse disposables off in the same way. But I would line dry my diapers, and I think a lot of people who get into CDing also find other ways to be more ecologically sound, so all in all, I think cloth diapers are great.

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Originally Posted by SilverFish View Post

probably because i don't know anyone who routinely goes through 10-12 sets of clothing per day and covers approximately half of them with feces which would then need to be washed out with hot water? one t-shirt, one pair of undies and socks and a pair of pants every few days hardly is comparable to the shear volume and dirtiness of the average daily diaper output.


You know the wrong kinds of people winky.gif
 

 

 

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I have yet to see a study that takes into account the manufacturing process of disposables.  It takes a hell of a lot of water and other resources (bleaching of the fibers anyone?) to make just one pack of diapers.  And this happens again, and again, and again...at least a hundred times per baby.  Cloth has to be manufactured as well, but we're talking a few dozen diapers, not a couple thousand.

 

Then the diapers have to be trucked in...packs upon packs of disposables. Over and over and over again.  Cloth, you order 3, maybe 4 sizes and you are done (some people even less if they use one-size diapers).

 

With disposables, you still have to wash the baby's clothes when the poop goes everywhere and it DOES.  So you are already doing more washing than you need to.  I had to wash extra clothes, the swing cover, blankets, adult bedding (since they were in the bed with us), car seat cover, ect.  In cloth, we had maybe 2 poo incidents.  I work at a daycare and I see it all the time.  For the first 6 months, these kids are crapping *everywhere*.  For cloth, you do like 2 small loads a week.  Hardly a big deal.

 

Then you have a couple thousand disposables in a landfill PER KID, while the cloth can be used through multiple children, then recycled for cleaning rags.

 

I personally don't see how it's a "wash".  The only "bad" thing cloth has going for it is a little extra water and electricity.  Disposables are not only sitting in landfills, but using water and electricity to manufacture, dumps nasty chemicals from the bleaching process, uses fuel to be trucked in and then aren't even sturdy enough to keep the poop where it belongs, generating more clothes and bedding laundry.

 

I would LOVE to see an actual UNBIASED study of EVERY aspect of both sides. 


All great points!

 

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Years ago, when I was CDing, there was a woman in our group who had a master's degree in waste management.  She used cloth diapers, mostly for the point of avoiding the chemicals in them, not for environmental reasons.  She said that after doing the research, it really was about the same in terms of the negative effects on the environment, I think mostly because cotton is a heavily pesticided crop.  The things that made disposables worse were using diaper genies or individual bags to dispose of each diaper, and then the chemicals used to manufacture them.  But apparently the disposal issue of dds are just a drop in the bucket when compared to things like wrapping paper, and disposable diapers in landfills could actually help soak up chemical spills.  Also, the worst choice, in her opinion, was a diaper service where they bleached the diapers and used trucks to deliver them.  The things that would make cloth diapers better, in my opinion, would be buying organic unbleached products or recycling other materials into the diapers instead of buying a lot of new fabric; or actually using cloth diapers for more than one child.  A lot of people, however, were really into buying a lot of cloth diapers and getting rid of them so they could buy more, and didn't use them from child to child.  

 

Personally, I still think cloth diapering is better than using disposables, but I have to admit that when my oldest daughter was 3 and we were having energy shortages and being told to conserve water and all that, I gave up for awhile.  I mean trying to get the poop out of the diaper took a lot of banging, swishing and flushing.  She still pooped at least three times a day, it was like catfood smashed in, and no, I didn't rinse disposables off in the same way. But I would line dry my diapers, and I think a lot of people who get into CDing also find other ways to be more ecologically sound, so all in all, I think cloth diapers are great.


This is one issue that I think is entirely overlooked in the cloth vs. disposable debate.  You are supposed to get the poop off a disposable before putting it in the trash (down the toilet) just like a cloth diaper.  It is not okay to have all that human waste sitting in a landfill.  That said, I have never known even ONE person IRL who even once put the poo from a disposable down the toilet.  Not one.  I don't think that environmental impact has ever been considered.  Additionally, I know lots of disposable diaper users who wrap each used diaper in a plastic bag (like from the grocery store, not a ziplock or something) before trashing it to contain the smell.  Not always at home, but *always* when out and about or at another person's home.
 

 


 

 

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#19 of 31 Old 03-21-2011, 11:52 AM
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My cloth diapers are on their third family. (DD, a friend's DD, and now a cousin's DS), so right there, I'm thinking that we have saved a *lot* of waste.  

 

Actually, the place I used to work for here in Oregon (cloth diaper brick & mortar) actually went through and figured it out.  She did a pretty good analysis: http://babyworks.com/cloth-diapers-and-the-environment  SHe's owned this store for 19 or so years now, so, she's been around for a while in the cloth diapering world.


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#20 of 31 Old 03-21-2011, 12:00 PM
 
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I'd appreciate an unbiased study as well. thumb.gif I see alot more "natural" disposables making their way onto the shelves and often wonder the difference between the regular diapers.

 

I admit the cloth diapering lured me in based on a combination of saving money and environmental impact. My DH was onboard because he feels waste belongs in the sewer system where it will eventually be treated (he works as a wastewater operator). I too know NO ONE who actually follows the instructions on the sposies to "knock the poo into the toilet". What he DOES find is that people still flush diapers/tampons/pads which can cause huge problems for sewer systems. duh.gif

 

We actually had an environmental impact evaluation come out (something our city offered for free) and this included a thorough inspection of how much energy we use/"carbon" footprint and water usage. The inspector was impressed with the small amount of energy we were using (especially when compared with our community) but gave us tips on how to improve even more. She applauded our use of cloth diapers.

 

I personally know we spent alot more on this next LO's diapers (i splurged on alot of AIO's, fitted's, etc which will take longer to dry) but will also be reusing the diapers from our elder DD's. This has to factor into environmental impact since sposies absolutely cannot be reused. Keeping the chemicals off my sensitive DD's is important as well. I also love them not smelling like "generic" babies. They can smell sweet on their own (without knocking you out with that pampers smell).

 

 


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Originally Posted by AdinaL View Post

My cloth diapers are on their third family. (DD, a friend's DD, and now a cousin's DS), so right there, I'm thinking that we have saved a *lot* of waste.  

 

Actually, the place I used to work for here in Oregon (cloth diaper brick & mortar) actually went through and figured it out.  She did a pretty good analysis: http://babyworks.com/cloth-diapers-and-the-environment  SHe's owned this store for 19 or so years now, so, she's been around for a while in the cloth diapering world.


That's an interesting article :) I like "It makes no sense that it is better to wash and reuse all products except diapers". It just doesn't make sense.

It should actually be very comparable to paper plates, disposable forks, etc. versus dishwasher. That's at least one load a day. Doesn't everyone agree that it is better not to use disposable plates etc?

 

I see we have much less garbage now that we use cloth. I also like that I supported a WAHM who made the diapers for me. My  money did not get wasted on Pampers advertisements for example. I have a new HE frontloader and airdry in the summer, airdrying only the covers in the winter.

My cloth mamapads (also from a WAHM) I wash with regular laundry, after I soaked them in a little cold water, so I know for sure that is better than disposables. I do wash the diapers on hot, that's what I could improve.

 

Carma

 

 

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#22 of 31 Old 03-21-2011, 04:06 PM
 
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Well, I spend maybe $150 for some prefolds and covers, more than 5 years ago, after that I recieved used diapers form my friend that she used with her two kiddos so, 1/2 of my stash we were the thirth users. My DD used for less that a year , because we did EC. After that I give away more than 1/2 of my stash because we planned EC with our second, that used diaper just for one year and we pass on to another child, so. Some of the diapers we used is been used now for at least 3 or babies. I have a all washer and dryer, that  we used a lot the first year, but we barely used laundry soap for diapers, plus, there was not packing, shipping, store space, marketing, nasty quimicals in the diapers, my babies bodies and later on the landfill, put no plastic stuff and all the quimical process to make a disposables.


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#23 of 31 Old 03-21-2011, 04:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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"It makes no sense that it is better to wash and reuse all products except diapers". That's what I can't get around, how it would make sense to throw something away rather than reuse it. If the same people also said it's better to throw away bags upon bags of paper plates, cups, utensils, pizza boxes, fast food wrappers, and plastic food containers etc rather than buy pots, pans, and a dish set, cook from scratch and use a dishwasher, then I would understand.


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#24 of 31 Old 03-22-2011, 12:26 AM
 
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I've always wondered this.  We actually use a diaper service hoping that the fact that they do mass cleanings helps the environmental impact of cloth (larger loads so even though they use heat and the dryer, it's usually much more energy efficient - or so I've been told), but either way, I just struggle with the landfill.  Plus, it's helped my daughter's bum immensely :) 

 

Now, when we do use disposables (travel, etc) we use Broody Chick which is 100% biodegradable so I feel better about it.  More expensive than the run of the mill kind, but I feel it's obviously better for the environment.  Now why we can't have affordable, environmentally friendly disposables is beyond me!

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#25 of 31 Old 03-22-2011, 07:14 AM
 
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actually it is possible, there was a british government study done a couple of years back ( i had the file saved on my computer, but of course can't find it now) that compared different kinds of cloth diapers to disposable and found there wasn't as great a difference as some people might assume

The UK study was done shortly after my daughter was born, so I read in detail at the time. I know there has been an update since.

 

ahh found a link for the update I haven';t read the update.

 

I remember in the original while they got lots of cloth nappy users answering they used such a variety of systems that most had to be excluded from the study. For a lot of questions this meant they only has 3 or 4 people answering. Leading to (among other things) the belief that nearly 50% of cloth nappy users iron their nappies.

 

They also assumed that in both cases any solid waste would go to landfill, as the study assumed most cloth nappy users used paper liners which they then put in the bin. So they disregarded any issues of feacel matter in landfill as being the same for both systems.

 

I seem to remember that while the initial results were the same for both systems there was a lot which could be done with cloth that would make it much better. Eg line drying, not ironing (:lol I can do that, no problem) reusing nappies for more than one child etc.

 

I can not personally believe that my terry flats and motherease covers which are now doing service for thier 4th or 5th child are no better for the environment than cloth.

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#26 of 31 Old 03-22-2011, 07:47 AM
 
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that was the study i was talking about. they did say their sample size was very small. i think the main thing to take away from that study and in general is that we can't just pop our babies in cloth, and say, tahdah! i'm doing something good for the environment! you only have to read a few threads on here and on other forums that some people are going overboard in their diaper purchases, buying lots and lots of brand new diapers than they're shipping from all over, switching diaper styles between kids, etc. not everyone, obviously, before i get a bunch of people jumping down my throat, but plenty. and you only have to read a few more threads to see that washing methods vary wildly, and there are plenty of people doing multiple hot washes, tumble drying, etc. there are lots of people saying they don't line dry (or if they do, they iron them to soften them), or that they have to use bleach, or that they hate their HE machines. there are certainly enough people out there that aren't doing the most efficient washing method possible (for a variety of reasons).

 

my friend is an environmental officer. basically, she's in charge of going to different businesses and checking that they are following the environmental guidelines of her province when operating. one thing she says is that the smaller the business, the less likely they are to follow regulations, because there is less oversight (basically, something like a dozen environmental officers for a few dozen massive factories, and a bazillion mom and pop drycleaners, laundromats, etc). that goes even more for individuals... there is very little oversight into what kinds of energy/resource consumers we put into our house and how we use them. and in North America, the full cost of the resources we use at home are often not fully accounted for... by that, i mean, we are not paying the real price of a gallon of water we use in our house.

 

anyway, i'm sure there are lots of people genuinely making cloth work for them by using the same diapers on 3 sets of kids, only washing on cold and faithfully line drying. i personally need to do way better in my energy consumption, and i don't think it helps our case if we aren't open to a discussion about it.

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#27 of 31 Old 03-22-2011, 08:16 AM
 
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I admit the cloth diapering lured me in based on a combination of saving money and environmental impact. My DH was onboard because he feels waste belongs in the sewer system where it will eventually be treated (he works as a wastewater operator). I too know NO ONE who actually follows the instructions on the sposies to "knock the poo into the toilet". What he DOES find is that people still flush diapers/tampons/pads which can cause huge problems for sewer systems. duh.gif

 

We actually had an environmental impact evaluation come out (something our city offered for free) and this included a thorough inspection of how much energy we use/"carbon" footprint and water usage. The inspector was impressed with the small amount of energy we were using (especially when compared with our community) but gave us tips on how to improve even more. She applauded our use of cloth diapers.

 

I personally know we spent alot more on this next LO's diapers (i splurged on alot of AIO's, fitted's, etc which will take longer to dry) but will also be reusing the diapers from our elder DD's. This has to factor into environmental impact since sposies absolutely cannot be reused. Keeping the chemicals off my sensitive DD's is important as well. I also love them not smelling like "generic" babies. They can smell sweet on their own (without knocking you out with that pampers smell).

 

I put the poo from disposables in the toilet... sometimes. Not breastfed baby poop, or if it's really stuck on there. But if it's formed and you change the kid as soon as they go so it isn't all smashed everywhere, why in the world would you want it stinking up the trash when you can easily and non-messily throw it in the toilet?

 

And I'm totally knocking the Pampers smell. I refuse to buy Pampers because of it. I return them to the store when people give it to me. Can't stand that!

 

Anyways, I'm in the boat who can't see how it could possibly be more environmentally friendly to go through the manufacturing and shipping process (considering all associated material, water, and energy usage and waste creation) for thousands of diapers per child than to do a few extra loads of wash per week, even with a less than perfectly environmentally responsible wash routine. All our cloth diapers (except for one cover, and we may be obtaining a few more soon if I can't find my old larger ones) are on at least their second kid or were made out of recycled materials. We don't have a dryer, so we line-dry by default (we have an indoor clothesline in the workshop for bad weather). I certainly never iron them!

 

I have heard that in areas where water scarcity is a major issue, disposable diapers are a better option. And I can see that.


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#28 of 31 Old 03-22-2011, 11:58 AM
 
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I actually don't care. Well...i shouldn't see that I don't care, but for me it isn't a deciding factor. My first two were horribly allergic to disposable, and we ended up doing EC just to avoid it. Cloth was out of the question as I didn't have a washer, and there was no diaper service in our area.

We did cloth at night, and I washed them by hand.

I really don't know if one is worse than the other...but one is dang cheaper, and better for my kid's butt...so we're going with cloth for this next one. If i'm feeling really guilty, i'll dry them on the line rather than the drier :p


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#29 of 31 Old 03-22-2011, 04:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverFish View Post

that was the study i was talking about. they did say their sample size was very small. i think the main thing to take away from that study and in general is that we can't just pop our babies in cloth, and say, tahdah! i'm doing something good for the environment! you only have to read a few threads on here and on other forums that some people are going overboard in their diaper purchases, buying lots and lots of brand new diapers than they're shipping from all over, switching diaper styles between kids, etc. not everyone, obviously, before i get a bunch of people jumping down my throat, but plenty. and you only have to read a few more threads to see that washing methods vary wildly, and there are plenty of people doing multiple hot washes, tumble drying, etc. there are lots of people saying they don't line dry (or if they do, they iron them to soften them), or that they have to use bleach, or that they hate their HE machines. there are certainly enough people out there that aren't doing the most efficient washing method possible (for a variety of reasons).

 

my friend is an environmental officer. basically, she's in charge of going to different businesses and checking that they are following the environmental guidelines of her province when operating. one thing she says is that the smaller the business, the less likely they are to follow regulations, because there is less oversight (basically, something like a dozen environmental officers for a few dozen massive factories, and a bazillion mom and pop drycleaners, laundromats, etc). that goes even more for individuals... there is very little oversight into what kinds of energy/resource consumers we put into our house and how we use them. and in North America, the full cost of the resources we use at home are often not fully accounted for... by that, i mean, we are not paying the real price of a gallon of water we use in our house.

 

anyway, i'm sure there are lots of people genuinely making cloth work for them by using the same diapers on 3 sets of kids, only washing on cold and faithfully line drying. i personally need to do way better in my energy consumption, and i don't think it helps our case if we aren't open to a discussion about it.

 

I agree. And I admit, we do a pretty lengthy hot wash around here. Plus, we're in New England and I couldn't get my prefolds dry outside even in July the few times I tried. So there's the dryer usage too. 

 

The point about the manufacturing of disposables is fair, though the Slate article posted earlier did say that was taken into account. 

 

On another note, yeah, Pampers do stink! We use sposies on occasion (like a bad rash) and we have two packs that I was given while preggo in Size 3. They do have a very noticeable odor. If we're going sposie, I prefer Huggies. 
 

 

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#30 of 31 Old 03-22-2011, 05:00 PM
 
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your friend is totally discounting the fact that a disposable diaper will sit in a landfill for a 100+ years, but a cloth one will biodegrate far sooner. also, a baby will use thousands of disposables that will end in a landfill, but only 15-40 cloth diapers that may be re-used on subsequent children. for me, that is the bigger issue than the tiny differences in water usage. it is a matter of how many hundreds of square feet of the earth do i want to fill with waste? just because you "dispose of" a disposable, doesn't mean it really goes away.

This is totally what I was  thinking.  Imagine all those little perfectly preserved packages of poo that our culture is entombing for future generations!
 

 

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