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Reusable Diapers – Going Green and Saving Green with Baby

July 13, 2010

With our first two children, my wife and I didn’t have a green perspective on life.  All we know about disposable diapers were that they were expensive and you never wanted to be caught without a supply of them.  As any parent knows, children don’t always let you know when they need a diaper change until they REALLY don’t like sitting in their own stuff.  On more than one occasion, I found myself with that sinking feeling that I had forgotten the diaper bag and would be 15 minutes away from acquiring more.  What do you do?  Do you leave your grocery cart in the aisle and leave the store or make a mad dash for the checkout and not buy half the groceries you came for?  Neither option is optimal, so you quickly get schooled in the lessons you should have learn during the childbirth classes.

While we knew that we were shelling out a lot of money for diapers, they are such a necessity that you just forked over the money because you had to.  Studies have shown that parents spend $1000 a year on disposable diapers!  Imagine how many bills that can pay or how much farther your 401(k) would be if you simply divert that money into savings.

The study that rocks my newly formed perspective on life is that disposable diapers don’t even begin to decompose in a landfill for 75 years!  That means the child will be well into retirement and receiving social security while the diapers they used in their youth are still intact!  Holy cow.  I just can’t accept that as a legitimate option.

Flash forward a few years through a green transformation, and the new baby is now using reusable diapers!  We are saving money and reducing her ecological impact. They are quite easy to use.  There is an outer lining that serves as a sealant and snaps together with velcro.  The second part is an interior cloth lining that serves to absorb all fluids and other materials.  All parents are familiar with the term “blowout.”  I don’t think it needs much explanation, but I must say I am impressed that even with the largest amounts of… mass… that we have only seen the slightest leakage past the disposables.  Nice.  Very nice.

In practical terms, little has change in the process of diaper changing.  There is still a danger of running out of them, but instead of heading to the store to buy more you simply head to the laundry room to wash another batch.  You still have a supply in a diaper bag when you leave the house and carry an internal bag to store soiled bags until your return home.  You still store soiled diapers in a pail near the changing station at home.  We had heard that the use of disposables also reduced the outbreak of diaper rash and for the most part that has been the case with this baby.  She is almost 3 months old now, and we have needed to apply a natural cream only a handful of occasions.

In terms of ecological impact, the only detriment would be water usage.  We have quite a supply of diaper liners.  When it comes time for a change, we simply get one damp with warm water at the sink and use it as a baby wipe.  It is the time it takes for my sink to pour out warm water that concerns me.  I suppose we could capture the cold water into a container and use it for watering plants, but I’m afraid that we would be storing more water than we would ever need.  If only we had an on demand water heater.  The nearly instant access to hot water would quickly remove my concerns in that regard.

All in all, it is a smart decision for any parent to use disposables whether you are motivated by saving money or saving the planet.


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