Disposable diapers are also made from plastics and super-absorbent polymers – in other words, petroleum – and a cocktail of chemicals that includes dioxin and phthalates, which we’ve been warned off of in back-to-school and cleaning supplies.
But, if you’re avoiding disposable diapers because you’re worried your baby’s poorly developed outer skin layer is absorbing these chemicals, you’ve probably been hoodwinked.
The big companies pay above minimum wage and have recently reduced their petroleum and pine-pulp fluff ingredients.
The same working conditions can’t be said about cotton, the main ingredient in cloth diapers. In a slightly unbelievable yet horrifying statistic, more than 10,000 U.S. farmers die each year from cancers related to chemicals from cotton farming.
The Final Verdict
And while it seems like a big personal choice, one study found that the environmental impacts over a 2 ½-year period of either diapering choice are about equal to driving a car 1,300-2,200 miles. So big, but not enormously big.
A green living purist would definitely tell you not to use disposable diapers.
But the natural parent grounded in real life is telling you to go with the option that works best for your family, and offset all that waste and water use with an environmental win somewhere else.
Don’t let green guilt force you into doing something that’s not right for your family. Parenthood is hard enough as it is.
Danielle Vick is an environmental copywriter who moonlights as the Green Living Detective, uncovering how our modern actions impact the environment. She lives in the high Rocky Mountains of the US with her husband and daughter. Follow her on Facebook or Pinterest.