Vegan Babies and Toddlers
Is Cloth Diapering Right For You?
When your little one arrives, it makes sense that you'll want to have
everything ready. A crib, stuffed animals, blankets, nursing bras, and many
other items sit waiting for your little boy or girl's debut. But what about
diapers? Is it something you've really taken a moment to consider? There has
long been a debate between the disposable and cloth diaper, but with
technology on the side of the eco-conscious, the battle is about to be over.
by Brenda Stokes
More than 3 million tons of diapers go into U.S. landfills a year according
to the EPA, and will take decades or even centuries to biodegrade. For many,
this is enough to switch to cloth diapers, yet for those dead set against
the diapers of their grandmothers, some companies have considered producing
recycled diapers. It only makes sense that this would happen, because the
common diaper is made of materials that can easily be recycled.
Jeffrey Potter, Director of Communications Programs for the Biodiversity
Project makes mention of the advantages of recycling diapers, in that it
gives us the opportunity to "treat the human waste held in the diapers,
protecting our surface and groundwater supplies from potential
contamination." Yet even though 95% of diaper materials are recyclable, no
such recycling centers have been created, thus the initiative goes on hold.
Being the only kind of disposable diaper that would be beneficial to use,
all the environmentally aware person is left with are cloth diapers.
Cloth Diaper Benefits
The cloth diapers of today have most certainly moved beyond those of your
mother or grandmother's years. An assortment of styles, types, fabrics and
fastenings have brought the cloth diaper up to par with the disposable in
the areas of convenience and absorption. Betty Winslow, a mother of four,
used cloth diapers on all of her children with plastic pants over them. "It
cut down on rashes and allergic reactions, was way cheaper since you only
paid for them once...no worries about having the right size and they were
easier on the environment."
Still not convinced? Many people are reluctant to cross over to cloth
because of the washing factor. It is just too easy to throw away disposable
diapers, rather than deal with washing them. However, it's really not that
difficult. After depositing any solid waste into the toilet, you can wash a
load of diapers in the washing machine. If you choose to, you can also
presoak the diapers in a diaper pail to loosen materials and reduce the risk
of staining. Once you wash the diapers, be sure to run them through a cold
rinse cycle and then line dry or in the drier on a normal setting. Most
diaper covers can be machine washed, unless they're wool, which require hand
washing. Regardless of washing, however, think of what sacrificing a little
extra time with the laundry will benefit in other areas.
Less expense. Ask any new parent and their number one largest expense by
far is diapers. If you use cloth diapers, however, you'll save an enormous
amount of money, as you only have to buy a set amount. According to Mary
McCarthy, owner of Comfy Bummy Diapers, an entire set of diapers for one
child should cost somewhere around $315, which includes the cost of
disposable diaper liners that are completely biodegradable. How many diapers
should you buy? Enough to last about 3-4 days says McCarthy, unless you want
to be doing the laundry every other day.
Less hazardous. Disposable diapers fill up the landfills and don't
biodegrade fast enough to keep up with our human consumption. Cloth diapers
on the other hand, are made of biodegradable materials, so when they finally
have served the full extent of their purpose, they won't add to any
Less leaks. Maybe not in comparison to disposable diapers, but the newer
cloth diapers are much better than the old ones. No longer will you find
loose fitting legs, but rather fitted diapers with maximum absorbency in the
Less Irritation. Some babies can be allergic to the harsh chemicals and
plastics used in making disposable diapers. A soft cotton diaper is least
likely to cause rashes and cuts down on the risk of allergies. Just be sure
to purchase cloth that is unbleached or chlorine-free.
Many types of cloth diapers now exist and provide a wide variety of choices.
From prefolds to fitted, parents can actually make a selection regarding
cloth diapers. Diaper covers and wraps secure the diaper in place and
prevent any leakage from occurring. You can buy diapers that have the diaper
and cover connected in one piece, or you can add "doublers" or extra strips
of thick cotton to add absorbency.
Tereson Thomas, inventor of the Fuzzi Bunz diaper supports the use of cloth
diapers. "Today's reusable diapers are just as convenient and easy to use as
disposables are, using fasteners such as Velcro and snaps to replace pins,
and new high tech fabrics to eliminate all of the hassles of 'old time' ways
of diapering," comments Thomas. Her patented "pocket diapers" contain polar
fleece and micro-terry, that absorb better than chemical fillers and jell
materials. Thomas even claims "pocket diapers" keep babies drier and can
virtually eliminate diaper rash.
Cloth diapers are now healthy contenders to the highly marketed and wasteful
disposable diaper. Whether or not you choose cloth for your baby is up to
you, but with soft cotton covering your baby's bottom, the benefits outweigh
the "burden" of throwing them in the washing machine. To be environmentally
sound, cloth is the only way to go.
Potter, Jeffrey. E-mail Interview. 25 Jan. 2005.
Thomas, Tereson. E-mail Interview. 1 Feb. 2005.
Winslow, Betty. Forum Interview. 29 Jan. 2005.