Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cloth Diapers and the Environment

This seems to be one of the most controversial subjects on cloth diapering. There is almost always someone that likes to point out the amount of energy and water it takes to wash cloth diapers. However, many of those people don't think about how the disposable diapers ended up at their house:
  • The fuel that it took to cut down the trees that make the wood pulp that goes in the diapers. (Over 250,000 trees are used annually for disposable diapers.)
  • The transportation & fuel costs to ship materials to the manufacturing plants and to ship the finished products around the world.
  • The amount of water it takes to manufacture the disposable diapers.
  • And the list goes on...

Many naysayers are quick to point out a study done a few years ago. This study stated there really wasn't a difference between the environmental impact of cloth diapers and disposable diapers. However, that study was severely flawed. First, they used the extremely low number of 4.16 average diaper changes per child and their study only accounted for the diapers being used up to 2.5 years. Many families will sell their cloth diapers or use them for other children, getting even more use out of them. For even more reasons this study was flawed, read the RDA's response.   

This comparison chart by AppleCheeks really helps illustrate the actual impact of disposable and cloth diapers.

There are ways to reduce the impact of cloth diapers even further according to the RDA:
  • Use Energy Star rated machines.
  • Wash diapers at 140 degrees.
  • Air dry.
  • Use washable wipes and liners.
  • Use low-impact detergent.
  • Use organic products.
  • Reuse diapers for the next child, then give them away or sell them to another family.

So, which one would you rather use?



  1. Hi there,
    excellent article. Do you mind if we share?

    Thanks in advance :-)

  2. Hi Michelle! Sorry I just saw this message. Feel free to share! Thanks!