The Great Diaper Debate


getting to the bottom of the diaper issue
The great debate over whether disposable or cloth diapers has less environmental impact has not been settled. But the burdens of conventional disposable diapers on the environment are indisputable:
  • nearly 25 billion disposable diapers are used each year in the US
  • disposable diapers are made from paper products (requiring about 250,000 trees per year) and petroleum-based plastics
  • each year, Americans send about 3.5 million tons of diaper waste to the landfill, where they won’t decompose for decades (this product that is used for mere hours takes up to 500 years to biodegrade!)
While cloth diapers seem to be an obviously more eco-friendly alternative, they present other challenges. Cotton requires lots of energy and water (and usually, pesticides) for growing, distribution, and processing. And washing cloth diapers requires lots of laundering, consuming both water (ten to twenty thousand gallons over the diapering period for a baby) and energy (to heat the water). Using a diaper laundering service mitigates these impacts, since they launder in bulk quantities.

A third diapering option is gDiapers. These diapers couple a reusable, washable cotton liner with flushable inserts. The inserts are made of chlorine-free, natural fiber which biodegrades in a matter of weeks. If you want to be even greener, TreeHugger Website 
has instructions for composting the diapers (but use any resulting compost only on non-food plants!)

See DwellSmart’s Diaper department for both gDiapers (in 3 sizes) and organic cotton diapers (in 4 sizes), as well as baby wipes and creams.

As for the potty training, you’re on your own there – good luck! If you (and baby) are feeling bold, try the diaper free “elimination communication” method.