Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Diapers, Diapers, Diapers

One of the chapters of In The Trenches is titled "What are cloth diapers?".  I recently told someone that if I ever held a seminar my introduction might be something to the effect of  "If I could tell you how to save more than $1,000 would you be interested?"  Then, I would hold out a box of disposable diapers and a package of cloth diapers and ask which product they would pick.  The person I was talking to started laughing and told me that everyone would walk out of the room. 

When I bring up the subject of cloth diapers people give a look or make a verbal sound like ick or something to that effect.   In The Trenches is not about telling people what to do but rather about encouraging them to consider ideas, research, and then come to the best temporary or permanent solutions for their families.   Personally, I believe cloth diapers are the healthy, cost effective, and green choice.    Yes, I expect that other will disagree.  A multi-billion dollar industry has been built on the convience of disposable diapers.  I have included many links in the post for those who would like to do further reseach before coming to a decision.

The disposible diaper industry is huge.  They have a lot at stake to insure that people continue to use their products.
"With an investment of $1.7 billion in year (2000), P&G is the 21st largest US-based and 52nd largest global investor in research and development (“Investing in R&D”, 2000). Kimberly-Clark has annual sales of more than $13 billion, with manufacturing facilities in forty countries and sales in more than 150. It is also the second largest household and personal care products company in the United States. Procter & Gamble diapers are now sold in more than 80 countries worldwide and have become a multi-billion dollar business (“Improving Health and Dryness for Babies”, 2000). After P&G marketed the original Pampers in 1961, Kimberly-Clark introduced Huggies diapers seventeen years later in 1978, soon after P&G’s patent rights on disposable diapers expired. Today Kimberly Clark is the second largest producer of disposable baby diapers in the world. "
Quoted from  The article also gives a very interesting history of diapering and current developments such as bio-degradable diapers.

Studies have shown that disposable diapers contribute to higher incidents of rash, toxic reactions, and even sterility in boys.

The chart on the first link gives a specific breakdown and comparison of the cost difference between various types of disposable and cloth diapers.   Of course, cloth diapers win in the cost catagories.  The cost of disposable diapers is 36 cents per change compared to the most economic of cloth diapers which is 6 cents per change (the price includes washing.)  At 30 cents per change it is easy to see how the price quickly adds up.

Environmental Impact
"It is estimated that roughly 5 million tons of untreated waste and a total of 2 billion tons of urine, feces, plastic and paper are added to landfills annually. It takes around 80,000 pounds of plastic and over 200,000 trees a year to manufacture the disposable diapers for American babies alone. Although some disposables are said to be biodegradable; in order for these diapers to decompose, they must be exposed to air (oxygen) and sun. Since this is highly unlikely, it can take several hundred years for the decomposition of disposables to take place, with some of the plastic material never decomposing"  Quoted from an article in the following link:
There is no denying the negative environmental impact of using disposable diapers. Even walking on the side of the road you will find soggy diapers.

Four choices
So far we have provided information about two choices: cloth or disposable.  There is a third option and may be the best of all worlds for some people.  Baby Diaper Service has been in business since 1946.  When my children were little it was common to give a gift certificate to the service at baby showers.  It gave the new mother the chance to not have to worry about diaper washing for the first month.  For those who support green but are not expecting children it would be a good way to promote the use of cloth diapers by giving the new mother a chance to try them.  The following link gives an idea of what a service will provide. Consult your local directory for a service near you.

Many daycare situations require the use of disposable diapers so there may be no way to completely eliminate their use by some families. The fourth option is a combination of all of the above.   

Business Opportunities
Another benefit of cloth diapers is the business opportunities it provides for those looking to earn some extra money.  With the current interest in green living it may be the perfect time to cultivate interest in the product.  This one is even on my own list of maybe.  Diaper Decisions is a business that helps you set up your own home based diaper manufacturing and distribution business.  She provides step by step infomation for handling both the paper and cloth side of the venture.

Cloth diapers 
 a thing of the past and a good choice for the future. 


Anonymous said...

The other advantage I noticed when my daughter and my friends kids were in cloth was that potty training happened at a younger age. My theory was that it did not feel comfortable to be sitting in a wet cloth diaper. The choice was to pee in the toilet or have the discomfort of a wet diaper! In a disposable the child never feels a drop of moisture.

Kevin@InvestItWisely said...

Diapers by the side of the road? That's disgusting...

We don't have any kids yet, but I've been wondering about this. Cloth does sound like the right choice.

Roshawn @ Watson Inc said...

We don't have kids, but my wife is convinced that we will use cloth once we do. I don't know how supportive I am of this, despite the advantages you mention!

Carol said...

Cloth is definately not the convenient choice. That's why if a person likes the benefits of cloth but not the inconvenience a diaper service is a good alternative and costs about the same as disposable. I think Molly is correct that cloth does help in the potty training. Maybe that's because the parents are more motivated. :)

Anonymous said...

Cloth for everyday use, disposables for longer trips, "special occasions". No need to go either/or.

Olivia said...

Both our boys were premies and trained late so I couldn't answer to the "early potty training" comment. However the savings was massive, and when it was all done we had these great rags....

Joe Plemon said...

I appreciate all the research and links! You did your homework.

We started with cloth, but eventually succumbed to the convenience of disposable. Probably couldn't get over the trauma of sticking a safety pin through my first born son. That was many years ago. Surely cloth diapers don't still require safety they?

Carol said...

@Joe, they now make cloth diapers with velcro. Yes, it is a horror to poke a baby! I went to an actual babysitting training where they showed how to put our hand under the place where the pin was going so that if anyone were to get poked it would be us. Guess that's why those prenatal type classes are good. Even what seems easy can have little tricks to learn.

Nicole said...

We did both (disposables at daycare and on trips, cloth, then padded underpants at home). We recently bought 3 larger size diapers and extra inserts because it may be some years before he's trained at night. It is very nice not having to go to Target so frequently.

We used fuzzibunz, so snaps instead of velcro or pins. After the poo turns solid, cloth is about equally easy as disposables, but man am I glad for early potty training.

Carol said...

Nicole, sounds like you researched and implemented all options. And, the early potty training was probably the best of all!

Practical Parsimony said...

Carol, I never had prenatal classes to learn to care for a baby. However, I did have four younger brothers and sisters. The last was born when I was fourteen. If I were in the house, I was as likely to change as many diapers as my mother did. That really, really hurts to stab a finger or palm with a diaper pin. I never stabbed my three children or my little brother that I diapered. With all the children who do not have siblings much younger, children do not have a chance to learn how NOT to diaper. Disposables have been around long enough to raise up a generation who has never seen a diaper pin used, much less used one.