Disposable diapers get a bad rap. They clog our landfills and require large amounts of energy to manufacture. They’re not all bad, though. Studies about the environmental impact of disposable and cloth diapers provide no magical answers about which diaper is best for the environment, but here are a few reasons why I use disposables.
1. Convenience. It’s the number one reason why parents like disposables. They’re easy to use, portable, and no-mess-no-fuss.
2. Cloth diapers affect the environment in their own way. They need to be washed with hot water and soap, and the washing machine and dryer (unless you air dry) require electricity. I agree it’s probably worse to cram landfills with tons of disposable diapers, but knowing that cloth diapers still leave an environmental footprint helps me feel a little better.
3. I do not have a main-floor laundry room. I have to haul our dirty laundry down to our basement and lug it back upstairs when it’s clean. This alone is a good workout to help shed those last few pregnancy pounds. However, with young children roaming the house, I don’t have abundant opportunities to slip
downstairs to start a load. If I risk it, I may come back upstairs to discover someone is bleeding or something has broken.
4. Disposable diapers can be purchased in bulk in uber-cool big cardboard boxes, which can be
repurposed and recycled. I use them to store children’s clothes and holiday decorations, and I collect stuff for our family’s annual garage sale in diaper boxes. I also give them to friends who are moving because the boxes have convenient handles for carrying and it’s nigh impossible to over pack a diaper box, resulting in fewer strained back muscles on moving day. You can even cover diaper boxes with fabric to create cute storage bins. The cardboard can be used to create dozens of other awesome things like play kitchens and play food, paper dolls, and toy cars.
Regardless of your choice of diapers, here’s a dose of perspective: Donella Meadows, Ph.D., an environmental scientist who died in 2001, said, “It’s great to try to move our lives in the direction of ecological righteousness, but it’s also true that every human activity has environmental impact … From the Earth’s point of view, it’s not all that important which kind of diapers you use. The important decision was having the baby.”
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