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Cloth diapers, disposable diapers, chlorine-free diapers, biodegradable diapers: What's Best?

There's no doubt that disposable diapers are the most convenient.  As for cloth diapers, in recent years I've heard the argument that cloth diapers use up so much water to wash them that they are just as bad for the environment as typical disposables.  I don't buy that.  When you take into account the fact that regular diapers cannot decompose, it seems like cloth is the clear choice in terms of eco-friendliness.  It's pretty horrifying to think that dirty diapers I wore have been sitting in a landfill somewhere for over 25 years.  Disgusting!

According to, and The Natural Baby, the studies that claim that cloth diapers are just as bad for the environment were actually funded by disposable diaper companies and that recent independent studies have proven that cloth diapers are better for the environment.

Even though cloth diapers are the best for the environment, sometimes they can be inconvenient.  It's hard to go on a day trip with poopy diapers in tow so you can take them home to wash them.  Recently, some companies have been coming out with biodegradable diapers or natural diapers. Sounds great, right?

Well, apparently biodegradable diapers are actually not much better for the environment than Pampers.  All disposable diapers include absorbing gelling materials, or AGM,  and according to Tiny Tots:  "AGM is linked to an increase in childhood asthma and a decrease in sperm count among boys. Environmentally, these diapers require as much water, energy and fuel to produce as any other single-use diaper. The bottom line is they offer no environmental or health benefits."

According to the EPA, diapers made up 3.4 million tons of waste, or 2.1 percent of U.S. garbage, in landfills in 1998.  This was the last year this information was collected, so I'm not sure what today's stats are.

The California Waste Management Board says that nothing degrades well in a landfill and that landfills are not composting facilities.  No diaper can break down in a landfill, not even ones marketed as biodegradable.  Popular chlorine-free diaper Seventh Generation still uses plastic, so it won't break down in a landfill.  The benefit of Seventh Generation Diapers, however, is that they don't use toxic materials so it's less harsh on a baby's skin.

For more information on diapers, visit The Real Diaper Association

Cloth diapers are way more convenient these days than you may think.  Most don't have a use for safety pins like in the old days, and many are as easy as putting on a disposable.  Some brands, such as BumGenius, can even be resized as your baby grows so you can use them for years!  Economical AND good for the environment?  I like the sound of that!  And don't forget, cloth diapers can be used for multiple kids and you can even buy used ones or swap hand-me-down diapers with friends and relatives.

Do want to help reduce landfill waste, but are wary about completely committing to the use of cloth diapers?  You can still make a substantial impact on the environment by cloth diapering part of the time.  Even if you just use one cloth diaper each day, that means 365 less diapers sit there indefinitely in a landfill.  (Obviously, the more you cloth diaper, the better!)

For those who are serious about wanting to cloth diaper, there are a few items to make things easier.

1)  A wet bag, for when you're out and about and have to carry around a dirty diaper.
2)  A good garbage pail. has some tips.
3)  A diaper sprayer, such as this one


Flushable/compostable diapers

This is an interesting flushable diaper that may be fairly sustainable:

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I've heard GREAT things about

I've heard GREAT things about GDiapers.  I know that the liners with pee can actually be composted, so if you're set up to compost you don't even need to flush them!  It sounds like a good option for people who want to cloth diaper but don't want to deal with the "yuck" factor.

Gro Via diapers

Gro Via from the Natural Baby Company acutally has a biosoaker that is completely compostable/flushable!  I have flushed them and others have put them in the composter with 100% success!

Interesting...will have to

Interesting...will have to try them!

Bambo Nature is the best eco-diaper avalable.

Been using Bambo Nature. Great diaper. Take a look at the reviews, google Bambo Nature for info.

I haven't seen those before.

I haven't seen those before.  I'll have to investigate!  

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