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Cloth Diapers and the Environment: The Impact of Washing

ESTIMATED READING TIME: 3 MINUTES

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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: The impact of washing cloth

When comparing cloth vs. disposable, the concern of wasted water and energy inevitably comes up. While it’s true that cloth diapers contribute to waste water during rinsing and washing and the release of some greenhouse gas emissions with the use of washers and dryers. When all is said and done, reusable diapers still have a far smaller environmental impact than disposables. For perspective, the amount of water used is comparable to the average water consumption of a person flushing the toilet 5-6 times per day.

Doesn’t it take a lot of water to wash all those diapers?

With the emergence of high-efficiency wash machines and dryers, you can significantly reduce the use of detergent, water and electricity. They even allow you to save energy with shorter dry times.  New efficient washers use approximately 14 to 25 gallons (53 to 95 liters) of water per full load. In comparison, the production of disposable diapers uses 230% more water than the manufacturing, use and washing of cloth diapers, according to a study by The Land Bank Consultancy for the Women’s Environmental Network.

How can I save energy?

To further lessen the environmental impact of your cloth diaper laundry, consider line drying whenever possible. Not only will you be saving energy and lowering greenhouse gas emissions by not using your dryer, the sun is great for bleaching your diapers and keeping them bright white. And an added bonus: air drying in the winter adds humidity to your home!

Diaper services are also a great eco-friendly alternative to home laundering your cloth diapers. While the service costs a little more than buying and laundering the diapers at home, diaper services use less water and energy per diaper washed.

The cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers debate will always be ongoing. But it is undeniable that 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.

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