Not every family wants to use cloth diapers. I strongly prefer them to disposables, having used both types, but washing cloth diapers isn’t something that all families are up for.
What are the chances for a disposable diaper to be a green choice? Does that ever happen?
Green and eco friendly are hard words to define. In general, something that creates waste and cannot be reused is not going to be as eco friendly as something that can be used over and over, and even handed down when you’re done with it.
There are times, however, that a disposable diaper makes sense.
That would be when water usage matters. If you’re living in an area with a severe drought, having water available for drinking is far more important than using water for washing diapers. That’s a place you can cut back on your water use.
When that kind of situation happens, the important thing is to pick the most environmentally friendly disposable diaper you can buy. Don’t be fooled by the eco claims of major brands – they’re usually too vague and use words that don’t have any legal meaning to make themselves sound good.
The trouble is that even the more environmentally friendly disposables aren’t that much better than the traditional disposables. They don’t use bleach, they use renewable resources for parts of the diaper, they don’t use latex or fragrances. But they cost more than traditional diapers as a rule, making this as much a budgetary decision as a green one for most families. There’s usually a limit for how far we can vote with our wallets while raising a family.
Biodegradable diapers are another option. You can throw these into your compost pile, although due to the human waste involved the compost should then not be used on food plats. Safe enough for anything you aren’t going to eat, however.
Some come as covers with biodegradable liners that you dispose of in your compost. Biodegradable doesn’t work so well in a landfill, as they get covered too quickly to properly biodegrade. If you just throw them in the trash, you aren’t taking advantage of their biodegradability.
When it comes right down to it, I still have to recommend cloth diapers over other diapering options. Preferably organic cloth diapers.
But if it happens that you must use some sort of disposable, don’t reach for the easiest solution or the greenest looking package. Take a better look and find the balance between caring for the environment and being kind to your wallet. Sometimes the answer you want isn’t the one you can afford.