Friday, September 2, 2011

Why Choose Cloth?

When I tell people that I cloth diaper my little girl, without a doubt, the most common response is, “Why?  Isn’t that gross?”.  The truth is, it isn’t any more so than a trash can full of dirty disposable diapers stinking up your entire house.  Rinsing the poop out of your cloth diapers is really not that big of a deal, and should not be your deciding factor when deciding to go cloth, (but I’ll talk about that in a bit).

In fact, there are several factors to consider when choosing to make the switch to cloth.  The three most common reasons to make the big switch are: Health Concerns, Environmental Concerns, and Cost.  So here we go…

Health Concerns:
Let’s just get this nasty bit of business out of the way, shall we?  Did you know that disposable diapers contain toxic chemicals?  I swear I’m not some environmental nut making this up so that you dump your disposables.  Seriously.  Disposable diapers contain the chemicals Dioxin and Sodium Polyacrylate.  Dioxin is a by-product of chlorine used in the bleaching process.  Not only can Dioxin cause reproductive problems and immune system deficiencies among other things, it is also a known carcinogen.  In fact, it’s banned in many countries, just not in the U.S.  Nice, huh?  And you may remember hearing about Sodium Polyacrylate back in 1985 when it was banned from being used in tampons due to it’s link to Toxic Shock Syndrome.
Isn’t it just wonderful that we’re expected to put these chemicals against our babies’ most sensitive spots?  The beautiful thing about cloth diapers is that they don’t contain harsh, cancer-causing chemicals.  They are soft and cozy on your baby’s bottom, and they don’t raise any health concerns.  Score one for cloth!

Environmental Concerns:
A baby will put approximately one ton of disposable diapers in a landfill in his or her lifetime.  And they don’t go away.  Ever.  In fact, no one really knows exactly how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose.  It is estimated to be somewhere between 250 and 500 years.  So, you know, a REALLY long time.
Cloth diapers, on the other hand can be used over and over again.  They can even be used on more than one child.  And when they’re falling apart or your child no longer needs them, well, then they can be used as rags.  Very little landfill space needed.
If you’re worried about the environmental costs of water and electricity to clean your cloth diapers, don’t be.  In comparison to disposable diapers taking up permanent residence in our already overflowing landfills, the energy and water used for cloth is almost nothing.

If someone asked you to withdraw $3000 from your bank account and then promptly throw it away, would you?  Me neither.  But that is exactly what happens when you buy disposable diapers.  They are used for a couple of hours and then thrown right into the trash.  Your baby will go through roughly 6,000 diapers before he potty trains, and that’s IF he doesn’t take longer than average.  Depending on where you live, you could be spending $60 a month or more on disposable diapers, and that isn’t even including wipes. 
Cloth diapers, on the other hand, are very budget friendly.  In fact, you could potentially diaper your little one from birth to potty training for as little as $100.  Plus, you can re-use these diapers for a second child. 
Before I wrap this up, I want to make one final note about convenience and the dreaded ick-factor.  These seem to be the biggest hang-ups people have with switching to cloth.  First of all, cloth diapers are just as convenient as disposable diapers.  In fact, you can purchase cloth diapers that go on and off just like disposables do, but you wash them instead of throwing them away.  (These tend to be more expensive, so the majority of people have a nice combination of different types of cloth diapers that allow for convenience as well as cost effectiveness.)  Cloth diapers are completely different than they were thirty years ago.  No more pins or plastic pants.  They’ve really come a long way.
And last, the ick-factor.  I’m serious when I tell you that it isn’t that gross, (and you should trust me because I get grossed out very easily).  You simply spray the mess into the toilet, flush, and then toss the diaper into a pail until it’s time to wash.  See?  Simple.  For the record, you’re actually supposed to rinse waste off of disposables as well, but I sure don’t know anyone that does.
So there you have it - some very basic (and very good!) reasons to switch to cloth.  Good luck, and enjoy your fluff!

By Summer Dupree

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