We discuss pros and cons of cloth diapers. They are considered to be more eco-friendly than disposable ones, but are cloth diapers really worth it?
Cloth diapers are perceived of as an eco-friendly alternative to disposable diapers. Indeed, disposable diapers have serious environmental drawbacks. The US Environmental Protection Agency reports that about 20 billion disposable diapers are dumped in landfills each year, accounting for more than 3.5 million tons of waste. It has also been pointed out that more than 200,000 trees each year are lost to the manufacture of disposable diapers for babies in the US alone. In addition, disposable diapers use 20 times more raw materials, two times more water and three times more energy to make than cloth diapers.
But as with many parenting issues, such as breastfeeding, sleeping and education, choice of diaper is not always straightforward. Disposable diapers are very convenient and have freed up a lot of time for working parents. Also, if cloth diapers are not the first choice for both parents, it may not work out in the medium and long run. But above all, research by the Environment Agency in the UK has shown that cloth diapers have a similar negative impact to the environment as disposable nappies since they they use up large amounts of electricity, water and detergent for washing and drying. Also, diaper washing services using delivery trucks consume fuel and create air pollution. New eco-friendly disposable diapers are now available and an update in 2008 of the abovementioned UK study found that since the first study manufacturers had made a significant 12% reduction in the global warming potential of disposable nappies. This is due primarily to a weight reduction and a reduction in disposable diaper manufacturing energy requirements.
So, are eco-friendly diapers worth it? What is the right choice? Here we present some pros and cons of cloth diapers when compared to disposable, but please add more in the forum below.
Pros and cons of cloth diapers
- cloth diapers produce less landfill waste;
- they help families to save money, especially in the second year or with subsequent children;
- they are more natural as they don’t have the dyes and gels used in disposables (although it has not been demonstrated that gels and dyes are damaging, at least in the long run);
- they may make easier to start potty training because kids will notice they’re wet sooner; and
- more frequent changes may avoid diaper rashes.
- cloth diapers are less absorbent than disposables, which means more diaper changes and cloth diapers are more cumbersome to change;
- they can be messy, especially if you use them to go out, as you’ll probably have to carry dirty and smelly diapers back home with you;
- they produce less waste but by doing probably around two or three extra loads of laundry per week, they mean higher water consumption and higher water and electricity bills;
- they help you save money, unless you use the all-in-ones (which are more expensive) and you use a washing service so you don’t have to wash at home; and
- most daycare providers do not accept cloth diapers, as they consider that they may facilitate the spread of diseases.
If you are considering using cloth diapers, these videos may help you decide:
If you change your mind, you can change your vote simply by clicking on another option.
Cloth vs disposable diapers: are eco-friendly diapers worth it?
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