Going Green: Diaper Duty

Oct 4, 2012 12:30 PM ET
Campaign: Going Green

Going Green: Diaper Duty

This is a guest post by Heather HEarne Walker, Discrepancy Specialist.

I have a beautiful bouncing baby boy, who is now six months old.  At one of the baby showers we were given for him, a sweet woman gave me a beautiful knitted blanket and a roll of what looked like mini-paper towels.  I didn't understand what they were, and I almost didn't say anything to the woman. 

She spoke up and told me that she wasn't sure if I was using cloth diapers or not, but that these were a lifesaver for her.  Cloth diapers?  How dare she assume that I was going to be using those things!  Yes, I was a tad emotional at the time.  These diaper liners will come back into the story later. 

One of my friends invited me over to her home one evening, to hang out with her and her infant daughter.  She wanted to show me something that she was using on her daughter—you guessed it—cloth diapers.  I politely accepted the invitation to simply observe her new way of life.  To my surprise however, my eyes were opened to a new way of thinking.  When most people think of cloth diapering, the first image that comes to their head is huge safety pins and plastic underwear.  It's almost a scary thought.  You would be amazed at how much this product, and the businesses that sell them, have changed over the years.  My friend showed me her "stash" of diapers and how easy the process really is.  She even let me borrow a few of them, and I was instantly hooked.  When I later ordered my diapers, I was scrambling for those liners the sweet woman bought me so long ago.  I sure was eating my words/feelings/hormones!

The first major plus to cloth diapers is the cost.  If you buy disposable diapers, this can cost around $2,600.00 or more, for one child, according to the website Diaper Decisions.  I personally bought 24 brand new, one-size cloth diapers for only $400.00!  I didn't even buy the cheapest ones out there!  The average child will probably use 7,500 disposable diapers until he/she is fully potty trained.  So, you’re saving the landfills of all of that extra trash coming from one little human being.  If you can believe it, some companies are making compostable cloth diaper shells!  Those 24 diapers I have will take my child from infancy all the way to potty training.  What is even better, is that I can use these same diapers on our next one or two children.  Another major plus for most moms, even some dads, is how adorable these diapers are.  They truly look very similar to disposables, but with buttons or Velcro.  There are so many colors and designs, that you'll never get bored.  It's really fun to know that even if my child isn't wearing pants, he will still look adorable!  Children who wear cloth diapers also tend to potty train earlier than children who wear disposables.  This is due to the fact that children feel wet/dirty quicker than they do wearing disposables.  Cloth is also better for your child’s skin.  Think about all the chemicals they put into the material of disposables.  True, there are some natural diapers out there, but you’re still going to eventually throw them in the trash. 

Lastly, cleaning your baby’s diapers is super easy.  If your child is exclusively breastfed, you can throw the entire diaper and its contents into the washer.  If you use formula, there is just a little extra work that needs to be done so that your washer doesn’t hold any unwanted substances of those #2 diapers—hence the name of this story.  Any washing machine will work, but top loaders and HE (high efficiency) machines are going to get your diapers the cleanest.  As you can see by the picture, I dry all the diapers “shells” on a cute octopus hanging dryer I purchased from Ikea.  It hangs directly next to my washing machine.  They easily dry overnight.  All of the “pads” that the diapers are stuffed with go directly in the dryer.  Line drying outside is always an option, and saves you money on energy.  So easy!!!

I do understand that $400.00 is a large upfront cost to most new parents, but there are many ways to save even more money.  Your first option is to buy used.  There is a fantastic site where you can swap, buy, and/or sell diapers called Diaper Swappers.  Initially this may sound a little odd or unsanitary, but I promise that this is not the case.  There is a process called "stripping a diaper" that rids you of that thought.  Ebay and Craigslist are great resources as well.  The sellers are all usually very helpful in giving advice and information on what they are selling, and beyond.   You can also register for cloth diapers on your baby registry.  Major baby stores do carry some brands.  There are even sites that allow you to try diapers for 30 days and return them if you are unsatisfied, for a store credit (ex: Kelly’s Closet and Diaper Junction). 

I hope that I have shined a positive light on cloth diapers.  I really do enjoy them, and I hope you will find that you do as well.  DING!  You’re now free to go green, go cloth!