Green Baby

    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 Disposables
    Classic Cloth Diapers
    Unbleached Organic Pocket Diapers

    Classic Disposables

    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 together.

    * 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 seldom leak.

    ** 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 streams.