Landfill vs Clean Water

Today our first deployment of cotton diapers arrived.  We’ve signed up with a diaper service that will drop off fresh diapers twice each week and take away the soiled ones, never to be seen again.  Or so I like to think.

I’ve actually been fairly happy with disposal diapers, but being the conscientious earth lovers that we are, we went with what is purportedly the more environmentally-friendly choice.  Frankly, I’m not sure if all the hot water and bleach that is needed to get the cotton diapers white every week is less than the landfill costs of a disposable diaper.

Here is one perspective.  Her point about the relative amount of water used (about 6% of household usage, by her estimates) is a good one.  Dirty disposables currently make up about 30% of our trash by volume, and more than 50% by weight.  Living in a region that, in general, has a decent water supply and fairly eco-friendly power (hydroelectricity), I think it’s safe to aim towards washing cotton diapers as the better choice for the environment.

The cotton diapers are certainly more esthetically pleasing, and I’m happy to be rid of the cartoon branding on the disposables we use.  The biggest downside, though, is that the cotton diapers soak through really quickly — meaning Ruby needs to be changed more often.  The disposables would absorb a ton of liquid without ever feeling wet.  I’ll be doing more frequent diaper duty, it seems.  Also, because the cotton diapers soak all the way through, one needs to use a waterproof cover to keep the baby’s clothes dry.

We’re not sure if we’re going to use the cotton diapers overnight.  Kate and I are extremely lucky that Ruby has been sleeping through the night consistently since she was about six weeks old.  I’d hate to mess that up with a diaper that irritates her when it gets wet.  We’ll probably try one for a few nights and see what happens.

Finally, on to costs. The diaper service costs about $75 month, and that includes everything we need except wipes, which would cost another $5.  Disposables are actually much cheaper — around $50/month, I’d estimate.  But if you add in the extra $12/month we pay for a bigger garbage can (to handle the disposables), the costs come out close enough to make me satisfied with our choice.  For now.

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One Response to “Landfill vs Clean Water”

  1. Nicole Says:

    RE: your thought on cotton diapers soaking through… on a more positive note, since you’re trying to do that positive thing you mentioned a couple pages back… think of how much healthier it is for her to be changed more often, and the fact that she doesn’t have the chemical they put in disposable diapers (so the water gels) riding into her genitals. It may be a pain for us, but in essence we are taking better care of our children by changing them more often…. it also shows that we are more in tune with our childrens needs if we can remember to check that darn diaper often enough, ahh the memories of twins of days of yore….

    just my thoughts.

    Neat blog- nicole

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