Saturday, June 12, 2010

Cloth diapers aren't better for the environment

I heard about this the other day from listening to news archives from 2008. I always thought that using cloth diapers was better for the environment than using disposable diapers. A UK government report found that the opposite was true, so they buried the findings of the report because they were embarrassing.

The study found that using cloth "nappies" had a higher carbon footprint unless parents went to extreme measures to launder them. Such extreme measures include drying the diapers on a clothes line all year long (this includes the winter), keeping the diapers for years to use on at least three children, and not washing them at a temperature higher than 60 C (140 F).

Check out the article on the report HERE.

My main question is this: how come I haven't heard about this until now? This study was done two years ago. I guess there are other factors to consider besides the environmental impact when decided between cloth and disposable diapers. We have never used reusable diapers on our baby. I think I would be interested in knowing what the cost difference would be. I really like the convenience of disposable diapers. That would be something I would miss if we switched to cloth.

Anyone have a strong opinion for cloth or disposable diapers?


Polly @ Pieces by Polly said...

I've heard that cloth diapers aren't as good on the environment as people think. We used cloth diapers with Katie for a while and I would do it again now that we have a washer and dryer, but haven't. I do think they are a lot cheaper, especially if you buy the supplies used like we did. We did have disposables on hand, so that we only used cloth ones at home.

Sylvia Louise said...

I am surprised by this. But, seriously, cloth diapers are a little gross-o.

Kathy Haynie said...

I did use cloth diapers when my kids were little because the disposables were so expensive, and back then, they weren't as well designed and they were more prone to leak than they are now.

Believe it or not, the "what is best for the environment" argument was going on back then, too, so I wasn't surprised by the report you cited.

I did dry them on the clothesline when it was sunny out, and if it was raining, I dried them on wooden drying racks next to the wood stove. (Ha ha - I was such an earth mama back then!) I have no idea what the water temperature was, but it was always difficult to get the ammonia buildup out of the diapers, and the kids were more prone to get diaper rash.

My absolute favorite way to diaper the kids was using diaper service. Heavenly. I wonder if that is better or worse for the environment?