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Diapers: Cloth Versus Disposables, What is the Better Choice?

Updated on September 3, 2011
Our earth is precious!
Our earth is precious!

If you have little ones or are expecting a new pooping bundle of joy, you may wonder what is worse for the environment, cloth or disposibles.  Cloth diapers seem like the logical choice.  But are they really have the least impact on our planet?  On the other hand, landfills are filled with disposable diapers.  Deciding on what kind of diapers you should use for your baby’s bottom can be a tough decision, especially if you are conscious about putting the least amount of strain on our already strained environment. Before you decide, take a look at some of the things that need to be considered before you are make this crucial decision.  

To begin with, most parents are considering price. The environment is on everyone’s mind, but ultimately it comes down to price and what you and your family can afford. Can you afford to buy disposables? Or can you afford the hydro consumed when you are constantly washing and drying diapers?

When considering the up-front costs, it would be more expensive to buy cloth diapers to begin with. They can be costly at first if you are buying brand new, but they can be used over and over again. So really they pay for themselves. To buy used cloth diapers would be a thought to consider if you are unable to afford the new ones. But you will also need to consider the cost of the hydro from your washer and dryer, the hydro for the hot water and water costs and for the wear and tear on your washer and dryer. It takes 50-70 gallons of water every 3 days in order to keep a baby in cloth diapers, just a thought when you are washing dirty diapers. Another expense, although small, is the cost of bleach and laundry soap.

For the parents that decide to opt for disposable diapers, it is not all cut and dry. You need to consider the price of the diapers, the absorbency, the fit and the comfort for your baby. Is a particular brand leaving a rash on her bottom? Unbeknownst to many parents, the disposable diapers, although more convenient, tend to leave a rash on babe’s bottoms that have sensitive skin, compared to disposables.

Another factor to consider is whether or not you will throw away your baby’s disposable diapers in the garbage without emptying the contents into the toilet. If you are interested in conserving the environment, this is a must-do, no choice about it. This waste ends up as raw sewage in the landfill. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, each year 7 billion pounds of diapers are getting dumped into landfills. That is for one year! Keep in mind though, that that number only accounts for 2% of all trash being put in the landfill. One diaper company, Huggies, has reduced the volume of weight being put out to the trash.

Which, in your opinion, is better for the environment, cloth diapers or disposable diapers?

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An extra bonus to the cloth diapers is that a baby that has been in cloth diapers will be toilet trained faster than a baby in disposables. What is the reason for this? The baby in the cloth diaper can feel when they have gone pee and feel wet and uncomfortable because of it. The baby in the disposables may not begin to feel wet until they have urinated a few times already. And so the baby in the cloth diapers becomes more aware of when they are soiling their pants. Once you have started toilet training they will quickly realize where it is that they should go.

So the choice is up to the parent. What makes the most sense for you and your family? What is more important to you? Maybe even a combination of both might be appealing. These are just some of the decisions that every parent needs to make before having children. And after you have children, there are even more tough decisions to be made. No one said that being a parent is easy, but it sure is rewarding, to say the least.


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    • Steph0596 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Ontario

      Thanks for the comment!

      I do have the need to diaper a little one and for me it has been a tough choice so I thought that it might be interesting to write about the pros and cons of both.

    • winegoddess55 profile image


      8 years ago from Mount Forest

      Yay, I am the first one to comment, lol! Even though I no longer have to change diapers, I enjoyed this article a great deal, and that is because of the attention paid to the environment. Disposable diapers are well known to pose serious problems in landfill sites because they do not break down quickly enough, where cloth can be cleaned over and over with a minimum of detergent, (and lots of rinsing for those whose babies may have sensitive skin).


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