Cloth Diapers and the Environment: Saving Natural Resources
ESTIMATED READING TIME: 3 MINUTES
Why use cloth diapers? Besides the health benefits and cost effectiveness, using cloth diapers is a great way to lower your environmental impact. From birth to potty learning, a baby goes through an average of 8000 diaper changes. The sheer volume of diaper changes makes one thing very obvious: choosing cloth diapers or disposable diapers plays a major role in the welfare of the planet.
To teach you about how you can make a difference, our series Cloth Diapers and the Environment will guide you through each aspect of how your decision impacts the environment.
Today we’re talking: Saving Natural Resources
When you first start to consider cloth vs. disposable diapers, think of it this way: the production of disposable diapers uses many natural resources, only to be added to a landfill when they are soiled. It takes over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks and chlorine dioxide to produce enough disposable diapers for one baby for one year.
What it takes to make a disposable diaper
To break it down even further, we’ll look at exactly what it takes to make a disposable diaper. They are made of a waterproof polyethylene outer layer, an inner layer made from wood pulp and polyacrylate, a water-repellent liner and some also contain fragrances and perfumes.
Those multi-syllabic chemicals not only sound scary, they are scary. Oil is the raw material used to create the polyethylene in disposable diapers – a non-renewable resource. It takes one cup of crude oil to make the plastic for just one diaper. On top of that, it takes 286 pounds of plastic to supply enough diapers for one year of diapers, per baby (including packaging). And then on the inside of the diaper, you’re looking at 440 – 880 pounds of pulp for the same amount of diapers. And because wood pulp requires whitening, chlorine dioxide is required for the bleaching process.
Comparing to cloth
In comparison, when you choose to use reusable cloth diapers, you will use less than 22 pounds of cotton for the duration of diapering your baby. Not only are you using significantly fewer resources, cotton is very renewable, so you don’t have to worry about harming the supply. And if you choose to cloth diaper using organic cotton, there is virtually no impact on the environment at all!
Choosing cloth diapers over disposable diapers does not just affect what happens in your home, it has a global impact. Continue to follow the Mother Ease blog to learn more about how cloth diapering lowers your ecological footprint and helps to create a better environment for your baby to grow up in.