How Green Is Your Diaper?
Disposables vs. Cloth: Eco-experts have been arguing about
which type of diaper is greenest for years. The jury's still out (let's face
it, both options are stinky). Making the choice even more complicated are some
new alternatives: eco disposables and hybrids. Are they really greener? And
what about your baby's comfort, diapering costs and your convenience? To help
make your diaper decision easier, we've done some compare-and-contrast homework
and devised a five-star system to rate each option. Here's the poop:
Classic Cloth Diapers
Unbleached Organic Pocket Diapers
Active ingredients Per
diaper: one cup
of crude oil (the plastic), four trees (the liner), chemically bleached
non-woven fabric (the filler), sodium polyacrylate (a superabsorbent polymer
gel added to the filler), adhesives and a soup of toxic chemicals, all fused
* Green factor From the billion trees a year destroyed to make the paper
liners and the cancer-causing dioxins in the chlorine used to bleach them, to
the oil that goes into the plastic and the plastic that clogs our landfills,
disposables are the neverending story. One third of our landfill waste is
diapers - we toss 18 billion a year in the U.S. alone, and each one can take
500 years to degrade. But even this is nothing to the amount of raw sewage from
soiled diapers that leaks into our waterways and soil, and threatens our wildlife.
Landfill sites are not designed to handle human waste, and poopy diapers are
full of it.
***** Learning curve It
doesn’t get any easier. Still, watching Daddy try to figure it out for the
first time can be fun.
***** Leakage factor
This is an almost perfect urine sponge - the diapers are superabsorbent and
** Your baby's butt You may be more comfortable changing fewer diapers - but because
the diaper can absorb so much urine before your baby cries about it, she's
likely to get a rash. And some people believe that the harm caused by these
diapers' chemicals, including dioxins from the chlorine bleach, might be worse
than a diaper rash.
** Your out-of-pocket
You'll spend approximately $2,000 by the time your child is potty trained.
(But the amount of time you'll save… Priceless!)
What you can do
If disposables are right for you, help by emptying stinky diapers into the
toilet when you can, so that the waste does not end up in our fields and