I often hear people say that cloth diapers are no better for the planet than disposables because of all the water used to wash them. This argument has never made too much sense to me. Water is a renewable resource, but the trees cut down to make disposable diapers are often harvested unsustainably. The plastic used on each diaper is a petroleum product-definitely not a renewable resource. Then there’s the whole landfill issue. . . .
Not to say that I don’t care about wasting water. If you wash diapers every other day in a top loader, you’ll use a whopping 7,200 gallons water a year. Do you use a wet pail to soak your diapers? That’s 360 more gallons a year, for a grand total of 7,560. The good news is, it’s not necessary to blow through that much water. I estimate that I use under 1,200 gallons water a year washing diapers. I have a front loader that uses 12.4 gallons per wash, and I wash diapers every four days instead of every other day.
I came up with the brilliant idea of “offsetting” the amount of water I use to wash diapers. The concept is simple: you try to make up for an environmental sin by doing a good deed for the planet. (Disclaimer: I realize that this whole “offsetting” concept is suspect, and we should all be doing the most to conserve resources at all times.) The first step in my personal water offsetting mission is to use as little water as possible on laundry. It would be difficult to offset 7,560 gallons of water a year, but by practicing just a few extra water conservation techniques, I can easily offset the 1,200 gallons I use.
Of course there are dozens of ways to reduce water waste. I was surprised to find that my first two water-saving ideas conserved more than enough water to make up for my diaper-laundry water.
1. Double up your toilet flushes. The average person flushes eight times day. At 1.6 gallons per flush, that equals 12.8 gallons a day. Double up just one flush and you’ll save 584 gallons a year. That’s almost half the amount of water I’d use washing diapers already.
2. Reduce showering time. I am guilty of wasteful showering. The average shower uses 2.5 gallons of water a minute. A ten minute shower uses twenty-five gallons of water. If two adults each take ten-minute showers and reduce them to five-minute showers (or shower every other day), they could save twenty-five gallons a day, or 9,125 gallons a year! Now I’ve more than offset the amount of water used to wash diapers. It’s interesting to note that two adults taking daily 10-minute showers are using fifteen times the amount of water needed to wash a year’s worth of diaper laundry.
Does anyone else feel guilty for washing cloth diapers in water? How do you assuage your guilt? Any crazy water-saving ideas you care to share with us? Please tell!
We love gathering up green parent advice and are already thankful for the tips we got from last week’s post on potty training. This week, we turn to cloth diaper users for their experiential wisdom.
What are your favorite brands/styles of cloth diapers? We’re especially interested in which diapers have provided the least leakage and the best fit, but we’d also like to hear about brands that turned out to be total duds. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!
While here at the Green Baby Guide we approve of garage sale gifts, experience gifts, and even no gifts for your offspring this holiday season, sometimes you do want to buy a little something for the baby in your life. We’ve personally worked with the eco-friendly companies listed below–some of you may have been lucky enough to win one of their great products in our past giveaways.
Pedoodles shoes are green because they’re made from recycled leather remnants. Look for the “eco-friendly” label in the Next Steps Collection. They’re very sturdy with a highly flexible sole and have become our favorite choice for shoes.
Isabooties are a great leather-free bootie for young babies and early walkers. They come in so many darling designs, you’ll want to order every one.
Natural Pod carries wooden toys, organic clothing dyed with natural dyes, and much more. We lust after their all wooden kitchen sets for kids and especially like their lineup of imaginative play toys.
My Little Pakora features a line of organic baby clothes with whimsical animal designs on them. If you’re going to indulge in new, organic baby clothes, these are a great choice.
While most people think of giving eco-friendly diaper cakes for baby showers, what about the holidays? Here’s one decked out in Christmas colors by Grow in Style.
Another great gift idea comes from Monkey Foot Designs: stylish, waterproof wet bags for cloth diapers, swimming suits, or anything else. The small bag costs just $16 and the large $22–an excellent deal for a custom-made bag.
Cozy Bunny sells soft, woolen baby clothes and changing pads.
Also, don’t forget Baby Blend Tees. We’re giving one away right now, so post a comment before Monday and win one for your baby or child.
Happy hunting for holiday swag!
What happens when your daycare refuses to use cloth diapers? You’ve made the costly investment in all the gear, found the most efficient way to wash them, and heartily enjoyed the whole experience…until you have to go back to work and send baby to a sitter.
When we found out that our childcare center wouldn’t use cloth, it became part of our decision to switch. It actually had a policy prohibiting the use of cloth diapers! That daycare wasn’t a particularly good fit for Roscoe anyway, so it wasn’t a difficult choice. But what happens when you find the perfect care center for your child, except for the fact that cloth diapering isn’t accepted?
Rebecca’s daycare provider had never worked with cloth diapers before but was willing to give it a shot. Her sitter sends dirty diapers home in a wet bag and has been happy to find that using cloth diapers with Rebecca’s daughter has cut down on her overall garbage bill.
What has your experience been with cloth diapers at daycare? Have you found that specific types of care providers such as centers or in-home daycares are more willing to use cloth? Are daycare providers more willing to use certain types of cloth diapers like all-in-ones over prefolds? Please share your stories!
In the 2.5 years my daughter wore diapers, we bought just six packs of disposables. I’m sure I could have done better if I’d really set my mind to it. We didn’t deal with the nighttime diaper dilemmas some parents face, so we used cloth at night. We also traveled a lot during those years, and we stuck with cloth diapers for several of those trips. (I know, I know–traveling is not green at all! Read about my personal crisis over traveling here.) Here are some travel tricks that worked for us.
Check out this ode to station wagon living!
Go somewhere with washing machines. Most of our post-baby trips were simple affairs, visiting family or staying in rental houses (rather than hotels) equipped with washers and dryers. If I thought someone might be grossed out by washing my dirty diapers in their machine, I used disposables.
Wash when you return. On short weekend trips, we just lugged the diapers back with us and washed them at home. With my wet bag, this wasn’t a problem.
Get a good wet bag. Joy wrote a post about her Bumkin’s Dirty Duds bag here. I bought a wet back from a sporting goods store, which holds more diapers (about three or four days’ worth). It doesn’t leak or emit odors. I would not recommend traveling with a diaper pail, though I know some have done it.
Use disposables en route, but switch back to cloth once you’re settled. We didn’t tend to do much multiple-destination traveling with the baby, so this worked well. On shorter trips we stuck with cloth the whole way, but if we were traveling all day long, we didn’t want to lug dirty and wet cloth diapers through airport security.
Dry diapers out the car window. Okay, I did not actually try this one–but my grandmother did! She posted a comment on the post comparing cloth to disposables, revealing her cloth diapering secrets from 1952, when she and three kids traveled across the entire country.
As those six packs of disposables show, I did resort to disposables every now and then, so I’m no cloth diapering angel. I always packed disposables on extended plane trips, but others are much braver! Check out Sunrise on the Water’s Thrifty Green Thursday post to see how she survived cloth diapering on a ten-day trip to Hawaii. Let us know your cloth diaper travel tales, tricks, and tips by posting a comment.
5 Dollar Dinners published a recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip waffles. Delicious! (Or, as Audrey would say, “dewishiss.”)
Grow Baby Green is the newest addition to our blogroll. Tara has a lot of helpful articles for new parents. Recent posts include 7 Reasons Why to Stop Using Tap Water to Mix Formula, Massaged Babies Sleep More and Cry Less, and Tips for Eliminating Junk Mail.
Our Home on the Range has a great post about diapers, which includes her reviews of gDiapers, Kissaluvs, bumGenius 3.0, and many other cloth diapers.
Several months ago I shared that my dark diapering secret online. Even though we only used disposables at night, I hated having to toss the waste into the trash. Since my son out-wet our cloth diapers, it seemed there was no other option.
Thanks to our wise readers’ comments, I tried pocket diapers with him a few months later and was thrilled. No more wetting in the night! This also meant no more trips to the grocery store to haul home disposables. The sky was brighter, the birds sang more sweetly, and our garbage was delightfully emptier.
Then Roscoe started to develop yeast infections on a regular basis. We tried creams, giving him “naked time,” and sunlight, but the infections persisted. Finally, in desperation, we switched back to disposables at night and Roscoe’s redness completely cleared up.
I then tried switching back to pocket diapers, only to have the yeast infections return. Intermittently I experimented with prefolds, all-in-ones and again with pocket diapers, only to find that he got yeast infections with every single option. He bathes just before bedtime, so it can’t be a hygiene issue. What would people do years ago before disposables were invented? There must be a solution.
For now, we’re sad to say that Roscoe’s back in disposables at night. Does anyone else struggle with yeast infections at night? If so, have you found anything that works on a long term basis? Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us!
Mindful Momma lists some Good Green Reads for the Preschool Set. If you are looking for some picture books with environmental themes that will please your young children, check it out.
Nature Moms reviewed Wysi Wipes, “an alternative to pre-moistened towelettes, facial tissue or paper towels.” They come in tiny tablets, and you just add water to moisten them. They’re compostable and biodegradable, so they’re better for the environment than your standard throw-away tissues.
Eco Child’s Play found some Eco-friendly, Solar-powered Night Lights that both young and old kids will appreciate.
Not Quite Crunchy Parent offers tips for getting your kids to talk about their day. The comments section adds even more ideas that I’m tucking away for the future, once Audrey outgrows her “chattering toddler” phase.
Soft Landing, our favorite place to find the latest in safe plastics, reviews a silicone baby bottle–an interesting alternative to traditional plastic or glass bottles. They also have a helpful article to explain what silicone is.
Green Style Mom writes about her experiences with community gardening–something to look into next year for those of you who don’t have gardening space at home.
Don’t forget to check out our organic diaper cake giveaway here on the Green Baby Guide. This is a $40.00 value an expecting green mom would love!
Grow In Style, an “organic diaper cake company,” would like to offer one of our readers this Organic 3 Tier Fall Fantasy Diaper Cake, made of forty size 1 Nature BabyCare diapers–a $39.00 value! While we here at The Green Baby Guide love cloth, it’s nice to have a disposable diaper that’s greener than conventional brands. Nature BabyCare diapers don’t use chlorine bleach and are free from oil based plastic. Read a review of them on Baby Cheapskate.
Here’s some information Grow In Style gave us about Nature BabyCare diapers and their company:
About Nature BabyCare Disposable Diapers
Nature BabyCare Diapers are one of the two leading Eco Friendly Disposable Diaper Brands available to today’s market. They are soft, breathable, chlorine free, and made with natural based material for natural protection. There are absolutely no oil based plastics used in the making of the diapers, so no toxins come in touch with the delicate baby skin. Nature BabyCare went an extra step with the packaging which is based on 100% natural, renewable material providing an all around eco friendly product.
About Grow In Style
GrowInStyle.com takes pride in being one of the few companies that creates Eco Friendly Organic Diaper Cakes. We believe that natural and 100% organic baby products are the only kind that children should encounter. We carefully select the best baby products for the rapidly developing infant. Our Diaper Cakes include all 100% organic and natural products such as Organic Onesies, Organic stroller blankets and receiving blankets, natural and BPA free teethers, natural rubber pacifiers, organic toys and natural baby creams. GrowInStyle Diaper Cakes are constructed with the purest and safest ingredients available today.
Would you like to win this fall-themed diaper cake from Grow In Style? It would be the perfect gift to give an expecting mom at a green baby shower–or even at a conventional shower. Or hey, maybe you want this diaper cake all to yourself! Just post a comment with your opinion on “greener” disposables or your desire to win forty diapers fashioned into a cake, and you’ll be entered to win. I’ll pick a winner next Friday!
When I started potty training Audrey, I wasn’t planning on buying disposable Pull-ups or even cloth training pants. I just took her out of diapers and put her into underwear. This actually worked, for the most part. But then Audrey’s daycare provider said she was on board with potty training, but that Audrey would need to wear training pants. I guess she wasn’t up for my “just wear underwear” technique, which admittedly results in a puddle here and there.
So I looked around. Our big grocery store carried Gerber training pants, but they didn’t carry them in Audrey’s size–ever. I stopped by a drug store, which had disposable training pants, but no cloth ones. Then I popped into two children’s consignment stores and came out empty handed. Who knew cloth training pants were such a rare commodity?
Finally I remembered a Hannah Anderson gift certificate I’d had since Audrey’s birth. They have a store downtown, so I ventured out there and bought a set of three adorable little training pants for $28.50—cheaper than Imse Vimse training pants, which cost about $12 each. (By comparison, a jumbo pack of 88 Pull-ups costs over $30.00.)
The Hannah Anderson pants are made from 100% organic cotton and don’t have a plastic layer. In other words, they are not water proof, which is just what I wanted. A child in these training pants will feel wetness and won’t be tempted to treat them as a diaper. (At least this has been our experience.) They’re also absorbent enough to prevent those pesky puddles, so they definitely work for me.
Audrey is potty trained now, and I never needed to buy more training pants or a pack of Pull-ups. I can personally attest to the fact that a life without Pull-ups is possible! Although she didn’t need training pants for very long, she still wears them and thinks of them as regular underwear, so I consider it money well spent.