Cloth vs Disposable Crisis! - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-16-2008, 12:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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

Charlotte

Charlotte, mommy to Maggie (July 15th 2008) and Una (July 19th 2011)!
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Old 03-16-2008, 12:08 PM
 
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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!
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Old 03-16-2008, 12:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!

Charlotte

Charlotte, mommy to Maggie (July 15th 2008) and Una (July 19th 2011)!
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Old 03-16-2008, 12:35 PM
 
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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.
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Old 03-16-2008, 01:05 PM
 
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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.
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Old 03-16-2008, 01:13 PM
 
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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.
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Old 03-16-2008, 02:32 PM
 
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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!
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Old 03-16-2008, 02:43 PM
 
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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

S Momma to:8:5:4:1.5 and: May 29 2010 loving wife to C:
:::: ::: formally mom_2_3_girls
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Old 03-16-2008, 05:16 PM
 
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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.
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Old 03-16-2008, 05:45 PM
 
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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!

Mom of a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, and 1 yr old. Wow. How did that happen?
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Old 03-16-2008, 07:03 PM
 
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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.
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Old 03-16-2008, 07:16 PM
 
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Quote:
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.
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Old 03-16-2008, 07:19 PM
 
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What is ECing?

Divorced mama to baby girl (7/5/06) and baby boy (8/5/08) Into anything fun and creative!
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Old 03-16-2008, 07:21 PM
 
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Old 03-16-2008, 11:14 PM
 
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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)
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Old 03-17-2008, 12:54 AM
 
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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.
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Old 03-17-2008, 01:40 PM
 
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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?

Sunny coolshine.gif: gun toting, retired breastfeeding, car seat loving, guitar playing, home birthing and schooling mama to Jakob (10.06), Mikah (07.08) and Korah (07.11). uc.jpg 

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Old 03-17-2008, 02:44 PM
 
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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.

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Old 03-17-2008, 02:55 PM
 
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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.

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Old 03-17-2008, 04:44 PM
 
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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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Old 03-17-2008, 05:24 PM
 
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I CD'd my oldest when I was a college student living in an apartment. I used all prefolds and Bummis wraps. I did 1 wash on cold w/ detergent and baking soda, followed by a wash on hot, no detergent, w/ vinegar in the wash cycle. That way, they got clean and they had the extra rinses and hot water. I never had any real problems doing it this way, except when I didn't have the money for laundry. I had enough diapers to do a full load, I think about 3 dozen, and they lasted about 4-5 days, IIRC (I could be WAY off on the # of dipes and how long they lasted. It was almost 9 years ago, after all. lol) For a newborn, it would probably be 4 dozen for a full load, 4 dozen would last 4-5 days as well. You can get away w/ fewer diapers for sure, but you wouldn't be washing a full load in the washer. Flat diapers are nice as well, easy to use in wraps, and dry REALLY fast if you are planning on air drying, PLUS they can be hand washed pretty easily in a pinch. I did have a laundry room downstairs in my building, though. Ds2 was also born while we were living in an apartment, but the laundry room was next door. lol. We're actually still renting (Dh is finishing his PhD this summer! YAY!), but we're in a townhouse w/ our own washer and dryer now. I prefer using wool covers as well. They make wrap style wool covers as well as longies and soakers. They have to be hand washed, which is fine by me, but a lot of people don't like. Proraps classics and Bummis wraps work great and are cheap. You don't need a Snappi or pins w/ those like you do wool covers (Snappis are REALLY easy to use, take a couple second.)

The "eco friendly" diapers, including G-Diapers, still use the sodium polyacrylate gel. I do NOT believe it is directly harmful to the baby to be in contact w/ the gel (most babies who are allergic to diapers are reacting to the plastic in the liner, etc, or the fragrance), however, this plastic salt is water soluble, and does not break down. EVER. Bacteria don't eat it, and it's pretty non-reactive. So yeah, it's not extremely harmful, it's probably in our drinking water b/c of how common disposies are. There are no tests currently to test for it in water, so just because they say they haven't seen it in our water doesn't mean it isn't there. THAT is what is most disturbing to me about this substance. And sure, it's ok now, but what's it going to do when it keeps building up in concentration? It's disturbing to me. (Dh and I are both chemists, so we get pretty weirded out by a lot of stuff most people don't even think about. lol)

As for using polyester fleece liners in disposable diapers, what exactly would be the reason for doing that? Polyester is plastic, so you'd still have plastic against the baby's skin. I have a few polyester inner diapers (like FuzzBunz), but I try to avoid them, and mostly keep them as emergency diapers in the car or diaper bag. (I'm pretty anti-polyester, but that probably has a lot to do w/ the fact that ds1 and I get rashes from it.)
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Old 03-18-2008, 01:31 PM
 
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If it is an option I know some moms that use coin laundry will go all prefolds or flats and covers. You could wash at the laundry and then hang dry b/c they dry quicker. Good luck. I am lucky enough to have all I need to have a huge stash and variety.
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Old 03-18-2008, 05:30 PM
 
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I love cloth. But I wouldn't do it if I had to launder by hand/at a laundromat.

Just my two cents--I have traveled using cloth and it was a PITA that I would not deal with on a day-to-day basis. I would pick the sposie that I found least environmentally taxing and go with that.

Of course if you are up to it, flats and covers are great diapers and would be the easiest to wash. Or flats and wool/fleece pants.
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Old 03-19-2008, 02:03 AM
 
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I'm big on using cloth diapers, but afraid of the laundry so my husband and I decided to try the G diapers. They are a hybrid: cotton shell, plastic liner(put the liners into) and then we use a combination of the flushable, compostable, or disposable(they only take 2 months to biodegrade) liners with cotton liners.

we will be using the cloth when at home and the flushables when we are out.

Just another idea to help keep laundry down and not add any disposables to the landfills.
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