Top 10 Reasons Not to Use Cloth Diapers

You know, cloth diapers aren’t for everyone. If you’re thinking about making the switch from disposables to cloth diapers, it’s important to be fully informed about the pros and cons of both options. Here are the top ten reasons I’ve found people choose to use disposable diapers instead of cloth diapers.


10. You make a living selling “I Heart Landfills” t-shirts.

I Heart Landfills

9. All of the walls in your house are white or beige. Having the choice of adorable colors and prints overwhelms you. No; you want your baby to wear a uniform, white diaper every minute of his diapering career.

Plain White

8. Your only source of information about cloth diapers are your mom’s crowd, who tell you how difficult it was to use diaper pins and question your sanity for uttering the phrase “cloth diapers” in the first place.

Pinned Prefold

7. You hold a longstanding grudge against your neighborhood waste collector, and indulge said grudge by creating as much household trash as possible.

Trash

6. You are the founding member of the “Shop Multinational Big Business” initiative aimed at developing grassroots support for giant corporations, particularly those in the Fortune 500.

Multinational Corporations and Brands

5. Wash things that get dirty? No way; gross! Single-use towels, sheets, and clothing are totally your style. Diapers too!

kleenex-hand-towels-home

4. You want your infant to rock skinny jeans every day.

skinny jeans for babies

3. The knowledge that disposable diapers will take about 500 years to decompose in a landfill gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling that your baby is carving out his or her own place in history.

landfill

2. You enjoy looking for creative ways to spend a lot more money than necessary on all kinds of basic needs. In fact, you maintain a Pinterest board called “Ways to Waste Money”.

Pinterest

1. Your baby exhibits a strong preference for being in constant contact with materials including but not limited to polypropylene resin, polyethylene, resins, oils, tackifiers, polyurethane and/or polyester foam, synthetic rubber and/or Spandex, cellulose, sodium polyacrylate, chlorine, Phthalates, dyes, and chemical fragrances.

diagram

Disposable-Obsessed Society

If you currently use cloth diapers, you know that using less disposable stuff translates into having more disposable income. More efficiently put:

Waste Not Want Not

On a recent trip to Target I decided to play a game and see how many disposable products I could find. It was certainly an eye-opening experience that made me realize how much cloth diapering has changed my attitude about throwaway things.

I’m starting to think that we live in a disposable-obsessed society, and I don’t really want to take part in the frenzy. I am not pretending that I have the perfect, eco-friendly household. Don’t take my sarcasm in the commentary below as a holier-than-thou attitude or anything – I am guilty of using several of the products I photographed. However, as a whole, looking at all of the types of products that consumers buy, use once, and throw away simply shocked me! Over the last year and a half, I’ve found a lot of ways to substitute reusable products for disposable ones, and this has inspired me to keep at it. I hope it will inspire others, too.

Let’s start in the baby aisle, since avoiding the waste and expense of the most obvious type of disposable baby product is the main reason that most of you are probably reading Diaper Wrecker in the first place.

You can buy disposable diapers, disposable swim diapers, and disposable trainers. One and done, baby!

Baby IMG_1829

Baby IMG_1836   Baby IMG_1824

Of course, you also need disposable wipes (baby or toddler) and can also find other specific types of wipes such as pacifier wipes or booger wipes.

Baby IMG_1827

Baby IMG_1832

One mustn’t forget the throwaway baggies in which to throw away all the throwaway diapers and wipes!  Baby IMG_1830

You can throw away nursing pads…Baby IMG_1831

…and placemats (guilty)…Baby IMG_1833

And all kinds of individually packaged food products. Baby IMG_1835

Speaking of food, let’s go to the kitchen aisle! This was a treasure trove. There are single-use plates…Kitchen IMG_1814

And cups…Kitchen IMG_1813

And the straws for your cups…Kitchen IMG_1812

And “special occasion flatware” so you can impress people without cleaning up after them… Kitchen IMG_1810

The marketing folks are onto something. They know that no one really wants to clean anything. Especially a slow cooker. But wait… you don’t have to! Kitchen IMG_1809

That’s right – “No mess. Just toss bag.”

Kitchen IMG_1808You can also throw away food baggies…

Kitchen IMG_1807

…and napkins…

Kitchen IMG_1803

…and paper towels, too! Kitchen IMG_1806

Speaking of towels, ugh – who wants to wash hand towels, anyway? Let’s just throw them away, too!

Personal IMG_1806

And handkerchiefs are only for old people, right?

Personal IMG_1804

You can wash your face with throwaway towelettes…

Personal IMG_1817

And shave your legs with disposable razors!

Personal IMG_1815

Rags? Never heard of ’em.

Cleaning IMG_1823

A duster? Wait, isn’t that something you throw away when you’re done with it, too?

Cleaning IMG_1821

And your mop should always have a disposable pad on the end of it.

Cleaning IMG_1820

Speaking of “always” and “pads”…

Personal IMG_1818

And if your dog isn’t housetrained yet, you can throw away that kind of pad, too! Pet IMG_1840

Unfortunately, my scavenger hunt had to end abruptly when my tiny shopping companion (unintentionally dressed like a Target employee that day) demanded lunch.

IMG_1802

What other disposable products did I miss on this excursion? Which ones have you found awesome, money-saving, no-guilt reusable alternatives for?

 

From Hybrid Diapers to Handwashing

I just arrived home this evening from a five-day trip to Texas to visit family and attend a wedding. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I didn’t use cloth diapers on our trip. It wasn’t feasible for a number of reasons, and even though I’m a huge cloth diaper advocate, I’m also practical and see no need to feel guilty for using disposables on occasion as a convenience.

However.

Cloth diapers have unleashed a little bit of diaper snobbishness in me. Ok, a lot. While I felt no guilt about using disposables for a few days from a cost or environmental perspective, I had serious qualms about the ugliness factor. In my mind, mainstream disposable diapers look like wrap-around maxi pads. I’m spoiled by the vibrant colors and adorable prints of cloth diapers.

Enter hybrid diapers. You may have read about them on my Cloth Diaper Systems page, but in case not, allow me to bring you up to speed. Hybrid diapers are a specific type of all-in-two (AI2) diaper that can accomodate either cloth or disposable inserts. This is a brilliant beyond brilliant idea, because you can take advantage of the convenience of disposables while maintaining the illusion of cloth. I present to you the perfect solution for using disposables incognito!

For our trip, we brought along a mix of gDiapers disposable inserts (which lay inside the sized gPant) and GroVia biosoakers (which stick to the GroVia One-Size Hybrid Shell). Both types of inserts are biodegradable, and we never had any troubles with leaks. I was one happy mama!

gDiapers and GroVia hybrids

Now, the irony.

Tomorrow is the start of the Dirty Diaper Laundry Flats & Handwashing Challenge, and I’m participating. What was I thinking??? I need to catch up on laundry from our trip, go grocery shopping, plan meals, catch up on work, and just catch up on things in general. And on top of that, I’ll be making MacGyver diapers out of t-shirts and washing them by hand.

Stay tuned to find out how this goes…

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Super Absorbent Polymers and Diaper Absorbency (Nerd Alert)

Are you curious how your cloth diapers stack up to disposables in terms of absorbency? It might seem like a simple task – weigh them dry, dunk them in water, weigh them wet, and calculate the difference as the weight of the water absorbed. But did you know that if you follow those steps using plain tap water you’ll be giving the disposable diaper far more credit than it actually deserves?

(I warned you in the post title: this information is a bit nerdy. My husband made fun of me for the “diaper lab” I rigged up in our kitchen to test this.)

When they first debuted, disposable diapers used fiber-based products – tissue paper, cotton, or fluff pulp – for absorbency. The absorbent capacity of these types of materials is limited, and much of it is lost under even moderate pressure. In 1984, the introduction of super absorbent polymers (“SAP”) began a race for manufacturers to engineer a slimmer disposable. This immediately resulted in the reduction of diaper bulk by 50%, and in the decades since then, disposable diapers have continued to shrink while their absorbent capacities have risen. Today, the absorbency of disposable diapers is primarily attributable to SAP, with fluff pulp responsible for helping spread the moisture more evenly throughout the core of the diaper so that the polymers can trap it.

So what is SAP? I’m certainly no chemist, so I asked my good buddy Wikipedia, which said: “Super absorbent polymers are now commonly made from the polymerization of acrylic acid blended with sodium hydroxide in the presence of an initiator to form a poly-acrylic acid sodium salt (sometimes referred to as sodium polyacrylate).”

Did you hear me, Wikipedia?? I said I’m no chemist! The easier version from MadeHow.com explains, “These polymeric particles act as tiny sponges that retain many times their weight in water.”

And since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some SAP crystals at work:

saps

So the important takeaway for you and me is that SAP retains water. But babies don’t fill diapers with water. Urine contains salts and and other compounds that inhibit the SAP’s ability to absorb. For purposes of testing diaper absorbency, human urine can be simulated with a 0.9% saline solution.

Rumor has it that some cheaper brands of disposable diapers used to do unscrupulous supermarket demonstrations to con shoppers into believing that their diapers were just as good as the premium, name-brand diapers. Unbeknownst to the shoppers, however, the demonstration used a saline solution on the name-brand diapers and plain tap water on the cheap diapers, thereby skewing the results of the absorbency comparison.

Just how skewed would the results be? I tried this experiment on my GroVia Biosoaker inserts, which contain SAP. I fully submerged one insert in tap water and let it soak for 10 minutes. I fully submerged another insert in a 0.9% saline solution (dyed green) and let it soak for 10 minutes as well. The result:

Side by Side

The insert on the left absorbed 793 grams of tap water. The insert on the right absorbed 286 grams of saline.

So remember: if you want to see how your cloth diapers stack up to disposables, test the disposables with a mix of 9 grams of table salt per liter of water to get an fair picture of their absorbency.

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