In our house, we are always looking for ways to reduce waste. We are avid recyclers, we dabble in backyard composting and my husband refuses to let any food go to waste. So when we learned we were going to have a child, I quickly suggested cloth diapers in lieu of the disposables. My suggestion was met with laughter and a reminder of how I hate to do laundry. However, my husband’s attitude quickly changed when he saw the price of a box of diapers and began crunching numbers. For about the cost of a week’s worth of diapers, we could invest in one cloth diaper. He was sold (and he even agreed to help with the laundry).
The economic savings are starting to add up and so are the environmental benefits. While our friends with kids will fill an entire trash bag each week with their baby’s “waste,” we have yet to see an increase in trash from adding a third to our family.
And the trash adds up…
According to an Environmental Protection Agency study, about four percent of the waste entering Ohio’s landfills is diapers. That’s literally hundreds of tons of diapers. For example, a large landfill may receive 5,000 tons of waste each day. If the statistics are correct, that landfill would see 200 TONS of diapers each day. That’s 73,000 TONS of diapers disposed of at one landfill each year!
What you will need to get started
Cloth diapers may not make sense for every family, but it has been a good experience for ours. I recommend testing the waters a bit by purchasing one or two diapers and seeing how you like them. Here are a few suggested items to get you started:
• A stash of cloth diaper covers (you won’t need as many covers as inserts)
• 24-32 inserts (this is the part that actually absorbs the mess.)
• A few good wet bags for storing your dirty diapers until laundry day (one for the diaper bag, one for the diaper changing station)
• A washing machine (because you are going to be doing a load every few days – but at least there isn’t any folding)
About the author: Molly Yeager is the senior corporate communications coordinator for Rumpke.