Reasons for loving cloth
I never really considered how much waste my baby’s diapers created until I saw the National Geographic film Human Footprint. The average American baby, according to the film, will use 3,976 diapers in its lifetime. That breaks down to 715 pounds of plastic and 5.65 barrels of crude oil. That’s six tankers of crude oil. For one baby. And that’s the average. For some babies, it’s much more (and for some, of course, it’s less).
And that’s the thing that really got to me. More than the waste I was creating, the thing that really bothered me was knowing I was packaging my baby in plastic, crude oil and chemicals — like Dioxin, Tributyl-tin and sodium polyacrylate, all three of which have been scientifically proven to have adverse affects on humans and animals.
But what finally pushed me into making the decision to go to cloth was economics. Diapers are expensive. Cloth diapers look expensive at first, when you figure each one has a price tag of $15 to $25. But, when you look at it from a long-term perspective, cloth diapers are actually much cheaper than disposables. I’m going to attempt to offer an example (bear with me, though; math was never my best subject).
A box of Huggies brand diapers costs about $24 for 96 diapers. That’s 25 cents per diaper. If you use the Human Footprint stats and assume the average baby will use 3,976 diapers in his lifetime (and remember, it could be more or less, depending on how often you change), you’re looking at a total approximate cost of $994. A generic brand, like Target’s up & up, might cost $15 for 96 diapers, or roughly 16 cents per diaper. That’s still $636 over baby’s diapered lifetime.
I spent $271 on cloth diapers. And I have a BUNCH. I bought 15 Imse Vimse all-in-one diapers second-hand from a mom on Craig’s List for $100. I bought seven BumGenius diapers at Eco Baby (when it was open on Brookside; so sad that place is gone!) with gift certificates given to me at a baby shower. At $13 each, that’s $91. And I bought four GroVia diapers with inserts and four extra inserts from Eco Baby — when the store was closing and everything was on sale — for about $80. I’ve also got 14 FuzziBunz that were given to me by a friend after her daughter outgrew them and one more BumGenius pocket diaper gifted at a baby shower. I’ve got 41 diapers. Not all of them fit Ben right now, but enough do that I can go for about three days without doing laundry.
Certainly if you bought 41 diapers new, you’d pay more than $300. So don’t. I browse Craig’s List all the time for opportunities to buy used cloth diapers, and I usually find them. I figure I’m doing even better by the environment when I buy them used rather than new. Plus, the Imse Vimse diapers I bought are made from organic cotton.
You can also borrow or beg for cloth diapers your friends are no longer using on their kids (hey, worked for me! Thanks, Shelly!).
Bottom line is, I love cloth diapering. I’m a little obsessive about it. Bt it’s a decision every mom must make for herself. My goal is just to show you that it’s as easy and affordable as buying disposables.
As far as health, environment and economic statistics, the Real Diaper Association is a great resource, in my opinion. Of course, the association favors cloth diapering, so you might keep that in mind as you read.
Next, we’ll talk about the different kinds of cloth diapers and how to care for them. And I’d love tohear from you! What are your favorite diapers? Have any tricks for easy washing or getting stains out? Does your partner share in the cloth diapering duties (John’s still a little scared of them!)?