Green Diapers: Cloth, Reuables With Inserts, Or Disposables

Even though I don’t have a baby, diapers are on my radar. This is due in part to a lack of litter education in rural (which is most of) Costa Rica (where I lived for the better part of a decade), and due in part to my sister being the proud and fabulous mother of a 13-month old.

Whether or not I will ever have to make the decision of cloth versus disposable diapers for my own child, I do, as a citizen of our lovely planet, feel like disposable diapers are a topic that needs our attention, parents and non-parents alike. Here are some disturbing facts for you:

1. Americans throw away 570 diapers per second. That’s 49 million diapers per day –

2. An average child will use between 8,000 -10,000 disposable diapers ($2,000 worth) – Clean Air Council

3. The manufacture and use of disposable diapers amounts to 2.3 times more water wasted than cloth ( Read more stats on their website.

4. The US uses 27.4 billion disposable diapers each

5. Diapers are the third largest consumer item in landfills and make up about four percent of all solid waste. –

There are lots of articles out there on the pros and cons of disposable versus reusable diapers, but it seems to me that mostly the argument boils down to one thing: if you are willing to take the extra time and effort to use cloth. Every article out there goes through lists and graphs and tables of which are better, which are worse, but all of them come out with the end statement that your baby is better off with cloth and without plastic, chemicals, bleach, dyes and fragrance sitting next to their very delicate skin (not to be forgotten as the body’s largest organ).

My sister has come up with a system that I bet is very similar to many busy families trying to juggle more than one child, more than one job, a house, family and their own lives: she uses multiple options, leaning towards naked babies and reusables most of the time, but disposables when they are truly time-saving or overwhelmingly easier.

If everyone were to treat all disposable products with the idea that they are ocassional-use items, a big portion of our energy, waste and landfill issues would start to look a lot less overwhelming. Just like the diaper question.

-Jocelyn Broyles


Shannon Y.
Shannon York6 years ago

I just bought cloth diapers for by baby! has very affordable cloth diapers, if anyone is interested

Lynda G.
Lynda G6 years ago

The statistics are horrifying. My babies were pre disposable and it wasn't an issue, at all. Nappy wash services were the new thing then but I didn't use them all the time. Being organised was key.

Disposables are cheap in the US having done a quick conversion, they're expensive in Australia by comparison. Think of the money saved and health issues prevented if only chemical free cloth nappies were used.

Most of the disposable nappy generations won't change, they have to work and pay mortgages and are frightfully busy and very stressed now. We weren't of course.

Wioletta S.
Wioletta S6 years ago

I used pampers but its good to know that its changing

Parvez Z.
Parvez Zuberi6 years ago

thanks for the article

Michelle Daddy
Michelle Daddy6 years ago

I am using cloth nappies. Better for the world, better for my baby!

Lu Ann P.
Past Member 6 years ago

we used multiple options on both our kiddos.

With my first kiddo we used only cloth diapers and I washed them myself for 6 months (by hand, we had no washer). I did a lot of things like that but by the time she was one year old I was exhausted, completely exhausted.

The second kiddo i implemented compromises. We used cloth at home, the insert system (we used the G diaper) indoors and outdoors, and disposables out of the house.

The insert system was the best altogether - but was crazy expensive. They also got a little icky the poopy stuff, as do cloth diapers.

ana p.
ana p6 years ago

thanks for the article!

Past Member
Past Member 6 years ago

The diaper service was wonderful! Just drop the dirties in big plastic bag, leave it on the porch, and a fresh, clean bag would 'magically' appear later in the day. The cost was certainly no more than disposables. I used the diaper service with all 3 of mine, except that the day care insisted on disposables for my younger two. I would highly recommend it if it's available where you live.

Judy R.
Judy R6 years ago

Used cloth for three babies. No decent disposables in the 1960's. Our local lake/reservoir beaches have to be closed due to dirty diaper pollution by uneducated and/or uncaring parents at least once every summer. Disposables are not environmentally friendly nor really economical. Detergent and fabric softener (if you want) cost much less over the long haul. Changing diapers is messy, get over it. They do grow up and then you don't have to do it any more. So I say, use cloth except when you are traveling, then dispose properly.