Babies-Toddler Vivian | 01 Oct 2010 07:52 pm

Are Chlorine Free Disposable Diapers Worth It?

Chlorine free disposable diapers are billed as being the safer, greener alternative for diapering your baby. However, they are still made with plastic, super-absorbent petroleum based gels, and they are still made from non-renewable resources. Now matter how you look at it, if you choose to use disposable diapers, 6,000 or more of these diapers are going to end up in a landfill very slowly rotting away for hundreds of years. It is great that there are chlorine free disposable diapers for those who simply won’t consider the advantages of cloth diapers, but there are better alternatives.

First, disposables of any kind are not great for the planet. We use washable clothing, washable dishes, even washable water bottles to help cut down on resource use and the huge landfill problem we are creating for ourselves. Throwing away 6,000 diapers and an equally massive stack of disposable diaper wipes (plus plastic bags or boxes they come in and then to contain them when they are dirty!) makes very little sense in a world where we are trying to hard to reverse climate change and pollution.

Washing cloth diapers uses about the same amount of water as an adult flushing the toilet 5 times a day, yet no one suggests we all move to using paper underwear to save water. Studies that make resource use for disposable diapers look equal to cloth diapers are often based on silly washing methods (who has their home water heater set to 190 degrees?) and they all ignore the fact that the 18 billion disposable diapers used in the US each year must be disposed of somewhere. Air-drying diapers can be done on a simple clothing rack if you want to do even more to lower your carbon footprint.

Second, chlorine free diapers and wipes will cost you about $2,200 for just two years worth. If your child is in diapers longer than the cost goes up. Cloth diapers, even really nice ones, will cost you from $200-600 for the whole two years. Best of all, if your child takes a little longer to potty train, you can usually keep using the same diapers. If you have a second child, cloth diapering becomes almost free since you can use the same diapers again. If you don’t need them, there are organizations that lend cloth diapers to low-income families that will happily take good second-hand diapers.

Finally, disposable diapers that are chlorine-free are not chemical free. If you choose to use cloth diapers, you can find them in many different fabrics so you can choose what is against your baby’s skin. Choose a stay-dry lining or go for all-natural fibers, you can even choose organic. Add an unscented, biodegradable laundry detergent and you have a simple system for keeping your baby’s bottom chemical free.

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