First I have to confess that we are not hardcore cloth users. In fact, Ben is not a cloth diaper user at all, so if he's solo, Eden's wearing disposables. And as I said, she wears disposables at night and occasionally during nap time. And when babysitters are here (usually, except when I forget -- sorry Jaclyn!) AND when I realize I should have done the laundry hours and hours earlier because Eden's wearing the last clean cloth diaper and all of the others are still damp and strewn about the back deck (where there really is only a teeny bit of sun, so all of the natural bleaching doesn't exactly happen).
All of that said, we are using many fewer disposables than we were before. And many more cloth. The toting diapers and wet bags really isn't that bad (though, for example, at church this morning, Eden took me by surprise by burning through the two cloths I'd brought so we had to use a disposable from the church stash).
I do have to say,that there is a SMELL. The clean cloth diapers never really smell CLEAN, even when they don't smell bad. And though the wet bags (where you store used ones) are pretty effective, some smell escapes (though mine are well-used so that could be part of it), which I guess is the same with storing any dirty diapers. The killer, though, is when I open a full bag of wet/dirty ones to wash them and the ammonia smell that pours out is so strong that it makes my eyes water and throat burn. Whew! So the faster I can stuff all the diapers into the machine and slam the door, the better!
All of that said, I am a fan. Eden's awful chronic diaper rashes have essentially disappeared (even though you can't use diaper cream with cloth!) And I love her wearing fabric against her skin. They are cute in their bright colors. And she wore her jeans on top of one yesterday without a problem (they weren't too thick).
Also, Silas, Eden and I had an especially enjoyable week together. I was trying to figure out why since the week before I'd said NO! so many times I thought I'd pull my hair out. What I realized is that we were home a lot this week. We played with Mirabelle and Polly the Mermaid dolls, read books, climbed up and down from the play loft, built with blocks -- played together, something I realize we've been lacking. I'm thinking the cloth diapers account for some of this: I am doing more laundry, hanging it to dry, stuffing diapers (you have to put the liners inside) -- which, by the way, all sound horrible but somehow aren't yet -- and perhaps am home a little more, slowing our pace and being more available. I'll let you know whether this proves true or whether it was just a cloth diaper honeymoon -- or coincidence.
My order of diapers did finally come this week, and of course, along with it, some compelling literature from diapershops.com. Check this out:
*In 1955, before modern disposable diapers were sold and consumed, it was estimated that 7% of babies and toddlers had diaper rash. In 1991, long after plastic disposable diapers dominated the market, the number jumped to 78%
*Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process. It is a carcinogenic chemical, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. In small quantities, dioxin causes birth defects, immune system suppression, skin and liver diseases, and genetic damage in lab animals. It is banned in most countries but not in the U.S.
*Disposable diapers contain Tributyl-tin (TBT) a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.
*Disposable diapers contain Sodium Polyacrylate, a type of super absorbant polymer (SAP), which becomes a gel-like substance when wet. This chemical can cause skin irritations and sever allergic reactions including vomiting, staph infections, and fever.
*Disposable diapers generate sixty times more solid waste than cloth.
*Disposable diapers use twenty times more raw materials, like crude oil and wood pulp
*No one knows how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but it is estimated to be about 250-500 years under optimal circumstances...
*Disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills, and represent about 4% of solid waste. In a house with a child in diapers, disposable make up 50% of household waste.
*Over 92% of all single-use diapers end up in a landfill.
*Throwaway diapers use twice as much water as cotton diapers, mostly in the manufacturing process.
(that last point is the only one I take issue with -- it may be true but washing the diapers seems to use a l o t of water)
*Over 27 billion disposable diapers are sold and then put into landfills in the U.S.
*Disposable diapers contain traces of dioxin, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals.
*Americans spend about 7 billion dollars on disposable diapers every year If every one of those families switched to simple home-laundered cloth diapers, they would save more than $6 billion, enough to feed about 2.5 million American children for an entire year.