If you are one of my close friends you are probably sick of hearing about my diaper choices. However, I have been researching these things for a few months now and I think I have some great ideas to make an eco-friendly decision. Now…my only disclaimer is that I won’t get to try these until January when our little bump enters the world. There are mixed reviews on each option (as with any product); some love them; some hate them; some are tolerated! Please feel free to add your comments.
Babies, Infants and Toddlers go through 15++ diapers a day. Most people use disposable diapers and these end up in our landfills where they can take hundreds of years to decompose. Disposable diapers can contain chemicals such as chlorine, latex, fragrances, TBT (tributyl tin), and more. My first child sufferred from severe diaper rashes that nothing would cure. I think it was a combination of diapers, wipes, and food choices. So here is what I’ve learned thus far.
Disposable Diapers (Sposies): There are actually environmentally friendly sposies out there. Although I refer to them as more friendly but not really the answer to the problem. Popular brands such as Pampers and Huggies are horrible for the environment and can pose health related problems like severe diaper rashes. I did find some more eco-friendly options on the market. Seventh Generation makes a chlorine free, latex free, frangrance free and TBT free diaper that is made right here in the United States. The price of these diapers are slightly more expesive than non-eco diapers but well worth the extra expense (www.diapers.com has a 40 count Newborn package for $10.99 today). There are 2 other brands offered on www.Diapers.com that are similar to Seventh Generation. Nature BabyCare and Tushies Tendercare diapers are both chlorine free, latex free, fragrance free and TBT free. The only drawback is that they are made overseas and need to be shipped to the United States. Prices are very comparable.
Flushable/Compostable Diapers: There is a great new product on the market these days called the gDiaper. gDiapers consist of a water proof diaper cover and a flushable/compostable inner liner. You velcro the liner into the cover and may I say that the little g’s are very fashionable. They come in a variety of colors and patterns. So what happens when the baby does it’s business? You take the liner out; tear it open; and flush! It’s really that simple. You can go on www.gDiapers.com and YouTube to see a video of the process. gDiapers are chlorine free and perfume free. The little g covers are made in China and Vietnam but the actual refill liners are made in the United States (Ohio). If you choose not to flush you could compost your liners in about 50-150 days. Price is a little more expensive but the environmental savings are well worth the extra money (today’s www.diapers.com price is $14.49 for a small package of 40 count refills). In addition you have no trash waste so you don’t have to purchase a diaper pail and liners. The main drawback to gDiapers is that not all stores carry them yet.
Cloth Diapers: This market has so many different options these days. I was absolutely overwhelmed when I started to read up on cloth diapers. Cloth diapers start at about $1-2 each and can be as expensive as $25 a piece. The difference is the convenience, the style, and the ease of use. So how do you know which cloth diaper is right for you? And what about the added environmental impacts of water usage from washing these diapers? I’m going to try to summarize what I’ve learned here.
- Prefolds: These are your momma’s old fashioned cloth diapers. These are by far the cheapest cloth diapers but not really the cutest or easiest to use. You have to know how to fold them, purchase clips or pins to secure them, and purchase plastic liners to keep the moisture in. Most day care centers, baby sitters, and dads won’t take the time to learn how to deal with prefolds. They are best used for stay at home mom’s or those parents with more patience. The diaper covers that are available today are very cute though and offer many different options.
- All-in-ones: These are highly fashionable and look very easy to use. These diapers (which are available in over 10-20 different brands and styles) have cloth inserts that attach to the inside of a water-proof diaper cover. I recently went into a cloth diapering store locally to see the differences in person. Most have pockets, snaps, or velcro to hold the insert in place. They also have snaps and velcro to close the diapers just like disposable diapers. The main difference with the brands is the material of the liners (cotton, bamboo, organics, and more) and the sizing. Most all-in-ones (commonly called AIO) are available in small, medium and large sizes. However there are some newer (more expensive brands) that are a one-size fits most (average 8-35 lbs). Cost really becomes a factor when deciding on which brand to purchase. I purchased two brands to show my family and friends and both of them were one-size fits all. The one I liked the best was the BumGenius 3.0; One-Size diaper. (Prices range from $10-$25 for these AIOs) The real test for these will be when the baby arrives. Most of the review sites say that they have minimal leaking (less than with disposables) and work very well. Disadvantages is the initial cost of these. If you want to purchase enough diapers for an infant for 2-3 days you will need about 12-15 diapers a day. At an average of $15-20 per diaper that’s a big expense up front. BUT you have to remember that these diapers can be used over and over and over again. There is no additional expenses later (with the exception of water usage in washing). The one-size diapers are my preference because you won’t have to buy additional diapers in larger sizes later on.
What option am I going to choose? I’m still deciding. Here are some of my considerations:
- Newborns and small babies: Most cloth diapers aren’t designed for newborns and the umbilical cord. Plus newborn poo is really icky! I will probably purchase NB Seventh Generation diapers for the first 1-2 weeks.
- Ease of use. The gDiapers sound too good to be true. You just open and flush. My husband was actually ok with this concept (over cloth diapers) because there was no extra clean up involved. I also think that day care centers would be more open to the gDiapers. I will probably purchase a few gDiapers to have on hand for dad and outings. The only drawback is that they are still more expensive than traditional disposables.
- For everday use I’m going to try to use the BumGenius 3.0 AIO (one-size) diapers. The main drawback is the $18 cost per diaper. This is very expensive for more people and the thought of purchasing 30+ of these is mouth dropping.
- Accessories: There are some accessories that should make the AIO option a little easier for parents afraid of all the poo! 1) Mini-showers can be attached to your toilet to rinse off the poo from the covers and liners. 2) Flushable liners are available so most of the poo will go down the drain. These look like rolls of toilet paper that you put between the diaper and the baby.
What about diaper wipes? The eco-option would be to choose a cloth wipe. These are also available on many online retailer websites. They can be made of cotton, bamboo and organics. You will then have to wash the wipes with the diapers.
What about water usage? Yes, cloth diapers will cause you to use more water in your household. Remember to wash full loads only so you may want to invest in more cloth diapers and wipes up-front. The environmental cost even with the increased water usage is still much better than using disposables.
What about diaper services? If they are available in your area they may or may not be good for you or the environment. You need to ask some important questions. 1) How far are these diapers transported from your house to the place where they are washed? 2) What are their cleaning processes? What kind of soap do they use? Do they use any other chemicals? 3) Do they use energy efficient washing machines? One drawback with diaper services is that most only offer you the old fashioned prefold options and not the new AIOs. Where I’m at there is only one diaper service and it is a start up business. I’m concerned with the distance (about 15 miles) and that they only use prefolds. You’ll have to check your local options.
There are some great resources on the internet to research all your eco-options. Some retailers even offer trial packages. Jillian’s Drawers offers an introductory trial package where you can try an assortment of cloth diapers for 21 days. You pay a deposit on the diapers, try them, and either keep or send them back. If you send them back it only costs you $10. Other retailers like www.diapers.com even offer frequent shopper rewards. If you sign up at www.Diapers.com and use my referral code (CJ157656) you can get a $10 coupon off your first order of $49 or more. Plus for each order you place at www.Diapers.com with my referral code (CJ157656) I get a $1 credit to my account. When you sign up you can send your friends this same deal.
I hope this hasn’t been overwhelming for you! I’d love to hear your comments too. What have you tried? What do you love or hate? I’ll write a follow-up article in January after I have a chance to actually try these on a real baby!