Since 95 percent of parents put their children in plastic diapers, it seems a bit of a moot point to analyze which choice is better or worse for the environment.
It is unlikely that people will revert to hand washing diapers, no matter what the answer. The convenience of disposables, combined with busy lives, is too good of a help to pass up, especially because it is hard to keep a child over the age of one dry in cloth diapers.
It is reassuring, in a way, to note that in fact, the answer to the question is a muddled and confusing draw, according to most experts. On the one hand cloth diapers take a lot of water and detergent to wash, plus cotton that is usually grown with pesticides. On the other, disposable diapers are very resource-intensive using trees, plastics, and they take up enormous amount of landfill space. Even the Sierra Club considers the answer to the diaper debate a wash.
What isn’t a moot point, however, is which brand of disposable diaper you choose, for the health of your baby, and the health of the planet in which your baby will grow. If you choose disposable diapers, here is our recommendation:
Dioxin is a deadly byproduct poison that is created when the materials used to make diapers are whitened with chlorine. Direct links have been associated between dioxin exposure and cancer, birth defects, and reproductive disorders.
Tributyl tin (TBT) is biocide used in paper mills that is extremely toxic to wildlife, and according to The Green Guide Institute, in 2000, Greenpeace Germany found TBT in eight brands of disposable diapers that had been tested in Germany.
Seventh Generation’s chlorine-free disposable diapers are made with materials that have not been bleached with chlorine, and therefore do not contribute to dioxin in the environment. They also are free of TBT, fragrance, and latex, a common sensitizer.
Link on this resource to locate Seventh Generation diapers near you.