Babies-Toddler Vivian | 02 Apr 2010 08:58 am

Use Cloth Diapers and Conserve Water Too!

Automatic clothes washing machines account for about 20% of total water use in the home. When you use and launder cloth diapers in your home this figure may be a bit higher and in some areas where drought conditions exist, this may present a problem. It is also a source of ammunition for disposable diaper advocates who are always looking to find reasons why using cloth diapers is comparably earth unfriendly. Of course cloth diaper users know that they are acting in the best interests of mother earth but in order to balance things out we can always find ways to cut back on our water usage so that cloth diapers are simply not an issue. The first step you can take to reduce water usage is do use a dry pail method for laundering. Presoaking your diapers in a wet pail is not required to keep them clean and it would help to conserve water by skipping this procedure entirely.

We can also help conserve water by buying an energy efficient washing machine. Traditional top-loading washers use between 32 and 50 gallons per load. Shop for a model that uses less water, and make sure that it has settings for using less water when washing partial loads. If you can afford one of the newer front-loading clothes washers, they are an excellent investment. These machines tumble your clothes through a smaller quantity of water, rather than using an agitator. Most front-loaders today use about 24 gallons per load, or about 40% less water. They also use less energy and detergent, and discharge less water into your sewer pipe. Thus, you can save on your water, sewer, energy, and detergent bills. There are claims that front-loaders are gentler on fabrics, prolonging the life of your clothes.*

One of the most important aspects to consider when washing is to remember to wash full loads as much as possible. If you must wash a partial load, see if your machine allows the water level to be adjusted to fit the size of the wash load. Simply by adjusting the water level to correspond to the load size may easily save as much as 12 gallons per week, especially if many smaller loads are washed.

By following these guidelines you can see a significant difference in your water consumption, enough to make cloth diaper laundering a non issue. But why stop there? Many other water conservation tips can be used to lighten our environmental footprint even less.

Consider these tips:

Use an ultra-low flush (ULF) toilet

If you have an older toilet install an in-tank toilet retrofit device

Install faucet aerators on kitchen and bathroom faucets

Install a low-flow showerhead

Avoid pre-wash and pot scrubbing cycles on your dishwasher, saving 5-8 gallons per wash

Consider installing an instant water heater on your kitchen faucet so you don’t have to the let water run in order to heat up

Consider using a non-regenerating water filter as an alternative to a water softener

Turn off the softener when you are on vacation

Use a pool cover and you can save 90 to 95% of the water that would otherwise be lost to evaporation

Use “gray water” collected from clothes washers, bathtubs, showers, and laundry or bathroom sinks to water ornamental plants and lawns, or to irrigate trees

Use gutters and downspouts to catch run-off water from the rain and divert it to your landscaping. Tanks, barrels, and cisterns can also be used for rainwater collection.

You can track the progress of your household’s conservation efforts by checking your water meter. Consider setting a weekly target and monitoring your total water use for that period. Investigate how changing your habits or upgrading to water-conserving appliances and hardware affect actual water used. * By using these and other water conservation tips we can help to lighten the impact of cloth diaper laundering on our available water resources and say with certainty that our choice to diaper our children with cloth, is the the most environmentally responsible one.

Tiffany Washko is president of Jelly Bean Diapers – a cloth diaper manufacturing company, The Diaper Jungle, and Nature Moms,

After working several years in corporate healthcare marketing and public relations, she took time away to be a mother. This new pursuit lead her to a new passion, helping new moms make the decision to return to the basics and use cloth diapers.

Comments are closed.