The diaper dialogues
Congratulations new parents. You’re entitled to all sorts of helpful advice, warranted or otherwise, from the moment your pregnancy test shows positive. It’s kind of like the gooey mess in your baby’s diaper–it keeps on coming.
Speaking of diapers, what type is yours? If green is your goal, it may help to know that most environmental organizations recommend cloth. In 1991, Procter & Gamble did an environmental impact study comparing cloth to disposable diapers and concluded, that–guess what?–cloth is not any better than their plastic ones. The Women’s Environmental Network then commissioned the Landbank Consultancy to reexamine the data, this time considering the entire lifecycle footprint of each type, from manufacture to disposal. The results made more common sense: Disposable diapers use 3.5 times more energy, 2.3 times more waste water, consume 90 times more renewable raw materials, generate 60 times more solid waste and use 30 times more land space than reusable diapers.
Of course, your baby’s health should be top priority and once again cloth comes out the obvious champ. Sodium polyacrylate–the same sort of substance used in tampons until the 1980s when it was linked to toxic shock syndrome–is used in disposable diapers to absorb moisture. Most disposables contain traces of the carcinogenic chemical dioxin, a by-product of the bleaching process. Approximately 5 million tons of human excrement, which could contain more than 100 intestinal viruses, are dumped in U.S. landfills each year.
Cloth sounding more snuggly?
You’ve got choices. If you’d rather avoid the washing machine, diaper services are affordable (Dolphin Diaper Service serves all of O’ahu with plans starting at $84 per month) and convenient. You don’t even have to rinse the thing before dropping it in the pail. The service picks up the old, and delivers fresh, clean diapers to your door.
Or thanks to savvy moms like Cindy Urbanc, you can do it yourself. On March 1, Urbanc opened Baby aWEARness in Manoa Marketplace, which sells everything one needs to join the cloth diaper revolution, from pre-folds to inserts to adjustable one-size-fits-all diapers.
‘I’ve had a lot of people switch to cloth,’ she says. ‘It’s so much cuter and cheaper and it’s actually easy. You just have to have access to a washing machine.’
Urbanc readily advises parents to use a service if laundering is an issue, or even a combination method. ‘A lot of people use disposables at night,’ she says, ‘or during the day when they’re not at home. Even just that saves money and it’s good for the environment.’
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