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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why use Cloth Diapers?

There are many reasons to choose to use cloth diapers and in my opinion with today's easy style cloth diapers there are very few reasons why one should not use them.

Just a handful of reasons:
  • Cost of diapers
  • The Environment
  • The Health of our Children
Just a few facts. All facts can be substantiated on the RDA website.

Cost of diapers: Americans spend 7 billion dollars on disposable diapers EVERY year. As a cloth diaper manufacturer it was up to us to figure out exactly how much does a disposable diaper cost. So I took myself down to the local costco one day and walked over to the disposable diaper aisle and looked at the per diaper price. I opted to use the standard Huggies in the extra large box size 2 option since this held the most amount of diapers. Each diaper cost was $.25 now I know that a quarter doesn't sound like a lot of money and really it isn't but when you start adding things up it is a lot of money.

A baby who is from newborn to 3 months should be changed every day AT LEAST 8-10 times per day. Now I know that the disposable diapers add enough chemicals in them to "hold back the hoover damn" but I also know that I would not want to sit on top of a bunch of soggy gel beads for several hours a day. We have had some customers who were under the impression that because a disposable diaper help so much they only needed to change them when the hcild had a bowel movement and right before bed. This equaled 2 diaper changes per day. We do not recommend this way of thinking at all. This leaves the child sitting in urine all day long which can lead to severe diaper rash.

Back to the cost: If you change your babies diaper 10 times a day for the first 3 months you are looking at spending $2.50 per day, $17.50 per week, $75 per month, and for the first 3 months of life you will spend $225. This is onl,y if you are purchasing lower cost diapers or purchasing diapers at a big box store. If you are like most parents and you have to make the quick trip to the grocery store you will spend even more money.

From 3 months on you will need to change your baby 6-8 times a day. For this equation we will simplify and just stick with 7 changes per day. You are looking at spending $1.75 per day, $12.25 per week, and $52.50 for the month.

By the time your child has reached 1 yr old you will have spent at least $697.50. That is just 1 yrs worth of disposable diapers. By the time your baby is 24 months old you will have spent at least: $1327.50 We also have to keep in mind that as our babies get older and move up in size in diapers they begin to cost more per diaper and there are less in each package. But to help us to err on the cheaper side of disposable diapers we will keep the per diaper price at $.25.

Many toddlers will potty learn right around the age of 3. Again we will keep the diaper prices the same even though as they get older not only does the price go up but as they begin the potty learning process you will most likely start to purchase the pull ups which are even more expensive. By the time your toddler is the age of 3 and completely potty learned you will have spent a minimum of $1957.50.

All of this money has gone down the proverbial drain. You have nothing personally to show for it. And unfortunately the community now has 1 ton of diapers added to the landfill that will not decompose for upwards of 500 yrs (see RDA)

So what about Reusable Diapers? Do they REALLY save money? Absolutely YES. Especially the One Size diapers by Happy Heinys. Each One Size diaper costs $18.95 and it comes with the reusable diaper plus 2 reusable absorbant inserts. A parent can easily purchase 12 of these diapers and have them last from birth to potty training, roughly 8-35 lbs, and only spend $227.40. This also doesn't include any additional discounts that may be applied for package pricing. Can you really do it with just 12 diapers, yes you can. Since you are changing baby up to 10 times a day, with 12 diapers you will have to do an extra load of laundry every single evening. Start in before bed and it is done when you wake up the next morning. If you can purchase an extra 6 diapers for $113.70, a total spent of $341.10 you will be able to go even longer in between wash loads. We do not recommend purchasing more than 24 One Size diapers per child. There really is no need.

So right away for just the diapering purchase you have saved yourself a minimum of: $1616.40 for your first child. One of the beautiful things about reusable diapers is that they do last for more than 1 child. Yes you will have to replace some of your diapers but you will not have to purchase a whole new stash of diapers with each child. This makes your savings even greater.

Also, one more large plus is the resale of cloth diapers. Yup you read that right. There are many moms who prefer to purchase used clean items and if your used diapers are still in good shape you can resell them for a min. of 1/2 what you paid for them. So that $341 is now closer to $150 is you take the time to resell them.

OK, I know what about the water and detergent and electricity. I may be saving money in the purchase of these products but my bill is going to go up so it all evens out doesn't it? Well not necessarily so. There is an additional cost for the water and other utilities. This cost, based on San Diego, CA rates equals about $.01 per diaper per load. So if you are washing 12 diapers in a load then you should see no more than a $.12 increase in your bill. For detergent, you do not need to buy a special detergent, the whole washing process will be another tangent later on, but with detergent I personally prefer Tide to every other brand available. My second choice and my #1 natural detergent choice is Country Save. Both of these are priced reasonablly and easily attainable. You will need slightly less than 1/2 scoop per load. That's it.

One interesting piece of information that many parents are unaware of is that it actually takes 2.3 times more water to make and use a disposable diaper than it does to wash a reusable one. (3) That is a huge amount of water if you ask me.

There is always the water debate, especially here in California where Happy Heinys are made. I can't count the number of times I have driven by the dump only to watch them watering the dump down to prevent fires and keep the dust down. This is something done daily as a prevention, a huge waste of water. And with 1 ton of diapers per baby in that dump, with over 4,000,000 babies born each year that is an awful lot of diapers.

In the US alone OVER 27 BILLION diapers are sold and then put into landfills.
While speaking about the dump debate, disposable diapers make up 50% of household waste when a toddler lives in the home. Disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills. Over 92% of all single use diapers will wind up in your local landfill.

Disposable diapers generate 60 times more solid waste and twenty pounds of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for 1 baby each year. (4)
Each year over 300lbs of wood and 50lbs of petroleum feedstocks are used to produce disposable diapers for ONE baby for ONE year.(4)

Health Issues:
In 1955 before disposable diapers were widely sold and used it was estimated that only 7% of babies had diaper rash. By 1991 long after disposables became the diaper of use that number jumped up to 78% of babies. (6)

The most common reason for diaper rash is excessive moisture against the skin (5)

Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of the paper bleaching process. It IS a carcinogenic chemical listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer linked chemicals. In small quantities dioxin can: cause birth defects, immune system suppression, cause skin and liver disease. It is banned in most countries EXCEPT THE USA. (1)

Disposable diapers contain Tributyl-tin(TBT) a toxic pollutent known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.(2)

Disposable diapers contain Sodium Polyacrylate, a type of super absorbant polymer (SAP), which turns to a gel like substance when wet. This chemical can cause skin irritation and severe allergic reaction including vomiting, staph infections, and fever.

One Final thing to consider, Everyone deserves to wear real clothing made of soft and comfortable materials. Most adults would never ever consider wearing clothing made from paper and plastic, or worse yet wear underwear made from paper or plastic. Don't our babies deserve the same consideration as us adults?

1. Allsopp, Michelle. Achieving Zero Dioxin Sept. 1994 Greenpeace
2.Greenpeace, New Tests confirm TBT poison in Proctor and Gamble Diapers May 15,2000
3. Armstrong, Liz and Adrienne Scott Whitewash Exposing the Health and Enviromental Dangers of Women's Product 1993 HarperCollins
4.Lehrberger C, Mullen and CV Jones 1991 Diapers Enviromental Impacts report to NADS
5.Boiko 1997 Diapers and Diaper Rashes Feb 1997 Dermatology Nursing
6.Weiner, F 1979 The relationship of diapers to diaper rashes in the one month old infant The Journal of Pediatrics 95:422-424

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