Friday, July 13, 2007

Diaper poll closed but the debate continues

Thanks to those of you who participated in the Great Diaper Debate poll! Overall, we had 66% on the disposable side and 32% on the cloth side and no one using each 50/50. That breaks down to half of respondents always or almost always using disposable diapers, and 16% in each of the following categories: usually disposable, usually cloth, always/almost always cloth.

I wanted to respond to Elizabeth's comment about the environmental impact of cloth vs. disposable diapers. She said...

I don't know all the details of the comment, but on NPR, they were debating eco-friendly life choices and they briefly mentioned that disposable diapers are better for the environment since they use a lot less water. They also mentioned that there are bio-degradeable diapers available as well.

I think she's referring to Talk of the Nation's story "Eco-Chic: How Green is 'Green'?" And actually, the Hubs and I were just talking with our friend Sarah about this. If a baby goes through 5 diapers a day, that's 1825 diapers a year. All those nasty diapers are just going to take up a huge amount of space. Especially since they don't biodegrade for...well....I don't know the exact figures (probably no one does)....but not anytime soon. When it comes to biodegradable disposables, Sarah brought up the fact that once the diaper part disintegrates, what you're left with is exposed untreated sewage. Not good either. (According to Wikipedia, contamination can also be a problem with regular disposables.)

Finally, with cloth diapers there is the water used and the energy needed to heat the water, etc. So I'm not seeing a really great option here. However, from a strictly environmental standpoint, I'm leaning towards cloth diapers, because I think we'll figure out how to use more renewable energy sources (wind, solar, etc.) before we can get rid of all those disposable diapers.

Of course, there are other factors to consider. But that's another post for another day...

Photo: I guess it all comes down to the washer or the wastebasket.


  1. I always think about how water is a renewable resource when I'm thinking about the environmental impact of cloth vs. disposable diapers. And the sun is the best way to dry dipes! Cheap and the sun helps to kill any remaining bacteria as well as take out any stains!


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