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It’s Time to Think Green . . . Diapering

Posted by Sprout Soup on

There are so many options today for a greener diaper, but are cloth diapers really better for the environment? The Real Diaper Association estimates that 27.4 Billion disposables are used each year in the US alone. Cloth diapers will hold up to 75-200 washes or more. Recycling diapers just seems to make sense.

Disposable diapers also require more resources to manufacture than cloth diapers, even when you take into account the vast amounts of water and energy involved in cotton farming. One study estimated that producing a year’s supply of disposables, which are composed largely of plastic, consumes roughly 6,900 megajoules of energy, vs. around 1,400 megajoules for a year’s supply of cloth diapers. Yet the study concluded that cloth ended up being 39 percent more energy intensive overall, given the electricity needed to wash load after load of dirty diapers.

That conclusion is outdated, however, given the major advances that have occurred in machine washing technology. A study done in Britain took into account some of these technological advances. In making their calculations regarding
cloth diapers, the study’s authors used average energy-consumption figures for machines made in 1997. They concluded that there was “no significant difference” between the environmental impact of cloth and disposable diapers. Keeping
a child clad in home-laundered cloth diapers for 2.5 years emitted 1,232 pounds of carbon dioxide, vs. 1,380 pounds for disposable diapers.

Cloth is also better for the environment for a number of reasons including:
– Disposable diapers generate sixty times more solid waste and use twenty times more raw materials, like crude oil and wood pulp.
–  The manufacture and use of disposable diapers amounts to 2.3 times more water wasted than cloth.
– Over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for one baby EACH YEAR.

So, if you are struggling with the question of how to diaper your babe. Think how lucky your kids will be to have a greener world to treasure. Maybe we can find it at the end of a rainbow of colorful, cute, cloth diapers.


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