This Saturday is the Great Cloth Diaper Change. We are participating (with our local cloth diaper circle) in the attempt to break the world record for the amount of cloth diapers changed at one time. This event is a great opportunity to spread the word about the benefits of cloth diapering. As a part of GCDC, we are entering a video contest in which we answer the question "Why do you use cloth diapers?" That question got me thinking, as cloth diapers are such a given in our family. I probably need good answers since I will be volunteering at the event.
I asked my husband why we use cloth diapers. His response was twofold. First and foremost, because his wife wants to (I am a lucky woman!) and secondly because of the environmental impact.
There are lots of stats showing the environmental impact of using disposable diapers. What it really boils down to is anything you throw away ends up in landfills. Trash does not magically disappear. Bottom line: disposable diapers spend hundreds, possibly thousands, of years in landfills. That is a reason enough for me to avoid them. Factor in what it takes to manufacture them, and I cannot be blissfully ignorant about the negative environmental impact. As with many environmental issues, I find people think their actions aren't large enough to make a difference. I fundamentally disagree. Every family's actions and contributions (good or bad) matter.
The Real Diaper Association keeps great statistics on the environmental impact and I encourage you to read the facts. Small Footprint Family has a well researched article on both environmental and health dangers of disposable diapers.
Every angle of using cloth diapers can be argued from each side. Disposable diapers are big business, and those who stand to gain from selling and manufacturing them will spin everything. The health issue has been studied from both sides. I tend to believe that studies can easily be swayed.
Bottom line: there are chemicals in disposable diapers. Lots of them. I do not trust chemicals and I do not want these chemicals next to by daughter's lady parts.
The Livestrong Foundation has a great article on the ins and outs of these chemicals here.
I have been blessed with a husband who does the diaper laundry. Diapering is a team effort. My husband has made the diaper laundry a part of his daily routine and we end up communicating about diapers a lot. Our cloth diapers add to our team dynamic
I also have a wonderful Diaper Circle support group. The motto of The Lehigh Valley Diaper Circle is "Saving the world one cloth diaper at a time." The sense of community really helps with diapering and motherhood.
I really do have fun with her diapers. She wears her cow print diaper when we go to a farm and I coordinate colors when she wears dresses. Obviously the fun factor isn't our main reason, but I find it fun.
The general consensus is that disposable diapers cost $2000 from birth to potty training and that cloth diapers cost as little as $500. I haven't added up how much I spent on cloth diapers. We lucked out with gifts and hand-me-downs. My husband point outs that we do spend more in water, but it isn't a lot because we have an energy efficient washing machine. I do believe we save money, especially in factoring that my diaper stash can be used for another child.
Cloth is how our grandparents diapered. I tend to follow a philosophy that modern conveniences aren't always good. When it comes to food, if I think a food would be unrecognizable to my great grandmother, I try to avoid it (think: super processed foods.) There is just something about keeping life simple and back to basics that makes me feel in tune with tradition. There are theories on why so many health problems are new to this generation (pretty sure my great grandmother didn't know what asthma or peanut allergies were) but these are just theories. I simple like to do things old school.
Diaper Rash and Potty Training
We haven't had problems with diaper rash. I like to think this is because of the cloth diapers, but diaper rash can have many causes. I do think the theory that cloth diapers make potty training easier (because it is easier for children to feel wetness and understand when they have to go) sounds reasonable. Since I have no potty training experience, I cannot attest to the results.
So we are a cloth diapering family. Instead of focusing on the extra effort cloth takes, I choose to focus on the above reasons. Please help spread the word about the benefits of cloth! If you read this far, thanks for enduring my longest blog post yet!