While there's no simple solution to the diapering dilemma, three kids and some 15,000 diaper changes have taught me there are a number of alternatives for environmentally conscious parents.
Raw fecal matter in the landfill contaminates groundwater. Even baby poop belongs in the toilet. Flushable liners simplify this process and make diaper washing a breeze.
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Cloth diapers are easy
Gone are the days of pointy pins and leaky rubber pants. Today's cloth diapers are simple to use, a cinch to clean and crazy cute. Available in cotton (bleached and unbleached), hemp, bamboo, wool and a number of other materials, there's an option that meets the eco and budget needs of every parent.
Except when they aren't
Nobody's perfect. Sometimes sanity comes first. For example:
* The first two weeks of baby's life. You're an overwhelmed new parent. She's a tiny precious thing. The simpler, the better.
* Long airplane rides. Nobody's happy when the baby is soaked and the seatbelt light is on!
* Overnight. Some kids just don't sleep well in cloth. After months of quadruple nightly diaper changes, we prioritized sleep and switched to disposables.
Green disposable diapers
Greener disposables are free of harmful chemicals found in traditional brands. Seventh Generation has even started to substitute wood pulp and corn-derived materials for non-renewable petrochemicals in their absorbent core. Ultimately, disposable diapers are resource-heavy to produce and end up in landfills. Use 'em only when you must.
Cloth diapering saves money
Including upfront costs, laundering and the occasional disposable, cloth-diapering parents save about $1,800 over disposable-diapering families after one child. And the gains grow as the family does! See for yourself — it's easy to work out your detailed comparison!
Choosing a second-hand set will save you even more. After seven years of continuous use, our one-size-fits-all numbers are still in great condition and will soon be Craigslist-bound. And after running its course, a diaper makes a great rag!
The newest thing on the diaper scene combines a reusable cover with a disposable insert. Some—like gDiapers—even boast flushable or compostable inserts. Others—like Flip Diapers—allow parents to alternate between cloth and disposable inserts.
What's your bit of green diapering genius to share with new parents?
Tovah Paglaro, a fellow Queen of Green