Cloth Diapers vs. Disposables – Does Anyone Really Care?

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On Saturday, April 21 dozens (maybe hundreds) of families will turn up in Campbell to participate in The Great Cloth Diaper Change.  It’s a worldwide effort to break the Guinness World Record it set last year when more than 5,000 babies made the change to cloth diapers in an effort to promote more eco-friendly alternatives to plastic disposable diapers.

Before my oldest son was born, I was adamant that I would use cloth diapers.  I pre-ordered three months of a diaper delivery service.  I told my friends not to buy any disposable diapers.  I was cloth-diaper baby and my baby was going to be too.

Then I had my son and ate a big piece of humble pie.  The cloth diapers were bulky.  It was hard to get a good fit. My son hated them.  I hated them.  On his third day of life, I asked my mother to go to the store and buy a a pack of disposables.  I had given up.  Maybe I threw in the towel too quickly.  Perhaps I should have tried a different type of diaper.  But I was a new mom, sleep deprived, breastfeeding every 2 hours, and dealing with some post-partum complications. I didn’t have the time or the patience to figure it out.

It helped when in a 2005 study by Britain’s Environment Agency concluded that there was “no significant difference” between the environmental impact of cloth and disposable diapers.  In the United States, disposable diapers make up about 2% of all garbage.  I am a part of that 2%.  I won’t deny that cloth diapers are greener than my disposables, at least in theory, if those who use cloth stick to an energy-efficient laundry regimen. But that commitment also takes time – a commodity that is in short supply in our house.

Our family does as much as we can to reduce our carbon footprint; however, we have no plans to give up our generic brand diapers.  Maybe that means I won’t be able to earn my Environmentally-Friendly Badge of Honor.  Frankly, I’m too busy parenting to feel guilty about my diaper choices.

If you want to join The Great Cloth Diaper Change, come to the Campbell Community Center this Saturday from 9-11am.

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