Pittsburgh Alkaline Water is happy to announce that we have a brand new line of healthy, green products from Kawaii Baby Diapers now available on our website! I worked hard to quickly make everything available online, so that I could include this post in our Green Products highlights in March, since cloth diapers are such a great way to Go Green and save some green.
With our first child only 5 months old, my wife and I are still in the "figuring things out" stage of parenting. Fortunately, we've done our research and found a bunch of good resources to help us make decisions. One of those decisions was to try cloth diapering with our son.
Let me be straight with you, cloth diapering is a bit more work than just throwing a disposable diaper in the garbage and slapping on a new one, but, honestly, it's really not too bad. Although we do still use the more natural brands of disposable diapers at times when we're out and about, cloth diapers are definitely the norm for us, rather than the exception.
So, why would we choose to make our lives more complicated with extra loads of laundry, stuffing diaper inserts, sorting, and folding on a regular basis? Well, the reasons fall into three main categories: Cost, Health, and Environment.
My wife and I are not cheap, but certainly frugal. We strive to not waste money, so we can spend it most effectively on things we want and need, as well as helping others. So, when considering the costs associated with having a baby, we knew diapers were an issue we'd have to look into. Do we justify buying organic disposables for the sake of our son's health? Could we even afford organic disposables? Do we buy regular disposable diapers to save some money, but possibly expose our son to unnecessary toxins?
Fortunately, my wife was proactive about looking into things and getting a feel for what other parents were choosing. It was then that we discovered that cloth diapering can be a much safer solution while costing a fraction of the price compared to even the more affordable disposable options.
The graphic on the right, which summarizes some calculations done by SquawkFox, shows that you can pay about 1/3 to 1/5 the cost of disposable diapers by opting for cloth diapers instead. Her cost estimates seem to line up pretty well with what our experience has been. See how she arrived at her estimated diaper changes here, or read the full blog post here.
Cloth diapers are a one time purchase, so it is an investment, but, once you have assembled your diaper stash, any additional expenses will be very minimal. At this point, we are basically only paying for the washing and drying of our diapers, and with the SmartKlean Laundry Ball and Smart Sheep Wool Dryer Balls it's even more affordable! Plus, should we have any more children, their diapering experience will be practically free, since we've already invested in all of the diapers a child would need.
Most of the diapers we sell are One Size fits all diapers (8-36 lbs), that are adjustable to maintain a proper fit as your child grows. This is a HUGE plus because it means you won't have a bunch of unusable stashes accumulating as your child outgrows them.
When it comes to cloth diapering options and costs, there are three main routes: pre-folds, all-in-one's, & pocket diapers. I'll compare these three options below.
Pre-folds are the most inexpensive route on the highway of cloth diapering. Using this method, you will place a pre-fold diaper on your baby, typically held with one of these Snappi's, and then covered with water-proof diaper cover. These are very close to the traditional style diaper & pin method your grandma used, just with a few modern advancements. Many parents swear by pre-folds, but I personally prefer the All-In-One/Pocket diaper solution because I'm a guy and they're just much easier for me to maneuver. Still, you can't beat the price of pre-folds. For anyone interested, here is an instructional video on how to use pre-folds.
All-In-Onediapers attach absorbent layers to a waterproof cover. With this option everything is all ready to go, not much effort necessary. The drawbacks to all-in-one's are that it is not as easy to customize their absorbant layers, they can take a long time to fully dry, and if any part of it breaks/wears out the whole unit is no longer useable.
diapers are what comprise most of our diaper stash, and I think they are my favorite. The pocket diaper is similar to the all-in-one, except that the primary means of absorption is through inserts that are placed into the center of the diaper via a pocket (illustration below). This allows you to place multiple inserts into the pocket for greater absorbency (but bulkier) or a single insert for less absorbency (less bulky). You can also change the type of insert you stuff the diaper with to give different moisture wicking, absorbency, or bulkiness properties. And, if at some point the diaper or insert needs to be replaced, it isn't as much waste as when an all-in-one dies, since the diaper and inserts are separate, yet symbiotic, elements.
So, as you can see, there are a few options to consider when choosing cloth diapers, but, whatever your choice(s), you can expect to save a hefty sum of cash compared to disposables (and extra savings if you're planning to have more children).
As you might imagine, one of our primary considerations in choosing a diapering method for our son was avoiding toxin exposure to his sensitive skin. I thought about our little baby being born from a perfect, untainted environment, and I wanted to preserve that as best I could. To expose him to as few toxins as I could. Disposable diapers just don't jive with such an aspiration.
So what are these harmful chemicals that are being absorbed through the skin?
1. Sodium Polyacrylate - This is what is responsible for making disposible diapers so incredibly absorbent (absorbing up to 300x its weight). Although labeled as non-toxic by the FDA, Sodium Polyacrylate is known to be an irritant to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. But, most distrubing by far is sodium polyacrylate's link to toxic shock syndrome.
3. Dyes - Diapers utilize various dyes/colors/pigments/ink/whatever you want to call them to create colorful, fun diapers, as well as indicators for parents of a wet diaper. Often times, these dyes contain lead and various other heavy metals, which can cause a long-term allergic reaction on the skin.
4. Phthalates - Used to make plastics more flexible, these chemicals pose a toxic threat to the health of our children. Phthalates can sometimes be found in the plastic liners in disposable diapers, but their reach stretches far beyond diapers. It is also suspected that infants are more vulnerable due to higher dosage, relative to surface area, and their immature metabolic system.
5. Fragrances - Some diapers use frangrance to cover over the distinct and undesireable smell of baby poo. These scents are comprised of a mixture of toxic chemicals that the general public will never know about, because they all fall under the generic title of "Fragrance" on the label (as allowed by the FDA).
Did you know that over 2% of garbage in landfills is comprised of dirty diapers? In fact, 1.5% of the non-reusable waste generated by the U.S. in 2012 was unrecoverable, disposable diapers. That percentage might not sound like a whole lot, but it adds up to well over 7 BILLION Pounds of unncessary diaper waste, just in our country... in one year!
Over Nearly 500 disposable diapers are used every second in the U.S. alone. And over 90% of them are sent to landfills, which can pose a few problems...
First, the amount of garbage that is being piled up is enormous! It's estimated that disposable diapers take about 550 years to decompose in a landfill. That means at current U.S. rates, we will have generated nearly 4 TRILLION pounds of diaper waste before even one cycle of decomposition is completed!
Second, is the issue of contamination. With all of these diapers hitting the dump, you'd have to imagine that's a lot of poop! When this fecal matter finds its way to the landfill, we suddenly have a legitimate concern of the spread of pathogens. Insects, rodents, water run-off, etc. can carry diseases found in feces. Polio is one such disease. Any child vaccinated with a live polio virus will likely shed the polio virus through their stool and urine for several weeks. It just isn't a healthy scenario and rings of Bubonic Plague.
This massive production of disposable diapers also seems like such a waste. Think of all the resources being used for each and every diaper as well as the creation of toxins to satisfy their production. Just consider that each diaper requires 1 cup of crude oil to make its plastic; plastic that will add up to 286lbs per child, per year. In addition to this, the diapers for one child will account for about 400-900lbs of fluff pulp, laden with chemicals from a bleaching process. Our time, resources, and effort could be so much better spent than in facilitating a reliance of nearly every parent on a product that is not only harmful to our environment, but to our very children.
I love it when good health and lifestyle practices meet economic savings! Cloth diapering is an excellent solution that offers both. Between cloth diapering and using cloth wipes, you can majorly cut down on the expense of common disposables, while achieving a low-toxicity upbringing for your children.