Babies are hard work, so nobody is going to judge you if you sometimes run down to a drug store to pick up an easy bag of disposables to keep your baby clean and dry. However, it is easier than ever to look beyond the old disposable, and we hope this guide will give you inspiration.
The sheer number of diapers piling up is reason enough for concern, but it is important to break down their material constituents to appreciate the environmental implications of this modern marvel. Trees, for starters: 250,000 trees are required annually to produce diapers for American babies. And when the wood pulp from these trees is bleached to make disposable diapers more aesthetically pleasing, it produces a low concentration of dioxins, a known carcinogen that could lead to infertility.
Cotton is also a prevalent component of both diapers and traditional cloth nappies; its cultivation is responsible for roughly 10 percent of the world’s pesticide use. Then there is the issue of throwing human waste into the garbage, which is technically illegal. However, according to the EPA, diapers fall under the municipal solid waste category and are, therefore, safe to dispose of in municipal landfills.
A disposable diaper is 70 percent paper pulp. The remaining 30 percent is made from petroleum, which is a finite resource and one whose combustion is closely tied with escalating climate change.
Cloth diapers come with their own environmental consequences. Depending on how and where they are washed (either at home or at a diaper service facility), one load of dirty cloth diapers requires up to 50 gallons of water to be sufficiently hygienic for reuse.6 In parts of the world where water is scarce, such as California, this is a terrible misuse of a precious resource.
Continue reading the Pros and Cons for both disposable and cloth diapers
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