I did a post on disposables vs cloth (and gdiapers) a while back. Some of this will come from that post. So, yes, I'm cheating a bit. That's ok. It's my blog, so I'm allowed. ;) That was a debate, though...THIS is not.
With my first son (almost ten years ago...wow!), I never questioned using disposable diapers. It was just a given. I didn't consider how much waste was being produced and what I was adding to the landfills. Or what was IN the diapers and, therefore, going against my son's bum all day long. When I got pregnant this time around, I was in a different place and doing a lot of things differently - I was more green, to say the least. So, when I heard about gdiapers, I was immediately sold! These are a mix between cloth and disposable - an outer cloth pant with a snap-in waterproof liner (not plastic!) and then flushable (yes, flushable! or even compostable!!) inserts. The insert is the "disposable" part - you can toss them, too. They decompose within a couple months, whereas a disposable diaper takes more than 500 years. Anyway, we used these right away with our new baby that was born in August - left the hospital with them on him. And we've never gone back.
gDiapers are kind of the best of both worlds when it comes to the whole cloth vs disposable issue - disposable inserts with cloth pants and a waterproof (that is not plastic so it is breathable) liner. About 18 BILLION diapers go into landfills each year, taking about 500 years to break down. gDiapers take just a couple months to break down. There is an obvious and significant difference there. And there are no plastics, chemicals, chlorine, perfumes, etc. Oh - and no diaper smell!! I mean, if you flush the insert with all the pee and poop down the toilet, you have no diapers sitting around, and therefore...no smell. Some people say that gdiapers are more expensive, but they don't have to be at all! And from what I hear, the cost of disposables is going up lately. The cost of g's is not. Plus, if you use cloth.....well, then the cost definitely does not increase. And more good news - gdiapers is coming out with their own cloth insert within the next couple/few months!!
Some other great things about g's (aside from their obvious cuteness factor!!!)... The company is top-notch! Really great customer service; wonderful, friendly people. Recently, some test Babies R Us stores started carrying gdiapers...now they ALL do!! Target also has them online, as does diapers.com. And many other stores carry them (many Whole Foods and other stores that carry cloth diapers). Check out gdiapers.com and do a search if you want. As I said, they will be introducing a cloth insert very soon. They recognize what their customers want and really try to respond to that. Some folks that sell cloth inserts to fit the g's will be carrying the new gdiapers cloth inserts, so even they don't see this as competition. How great is that?
Aiden in his g's - he clearly loves them!
We have gone a little farther, though. We now use cloth inserts that a lady makes to fit the g's (here is her website in case you're curious - you know you are! We love the gflappers - named that b/c of how they are made to dry quickly - with the organic bamboo velour. Those things are incredibly soft! And in case you're wondering about the whole smell issue, I can honestly say that the only time I smell any "diaper smell" from using cloth is when I open the pail to take out the bag of diapers to put them in the laundry - and really, I can hold the bag closed and barely smell a thing!) . I never would have thought I would be using cloth diapers, but here I am loving it. We use the g's with cloth during the day and BumGenius cloth diapers at night (since he pees a lot but we don't change during the nighttime - they hold a lot and keep him dry), stuffed with some gflappers. I am happy to say that we have not bought him any disposable diapers - oh, wait - we have. We bought one package of Seventh Generation diapers when he was first born, as a backup to the g's since they were a new concept and to use during those middle of the night changes that happen with every feeding with a newborn (so that we didn't need to have a light on to change the "new" diapers). We didn't even use the whole package. I gave about half the package away after we realized he had grown out of them, actually.
So, here are some of my thoughts on why we use cloth.... And in case you're wondering, I lump g's in with the cloth side b/c they do have a cloth component, the flushables are, well, flushable and decompose so much quicker than typical disposable, and - we use cloth in the gdiapers...
Cost - Disposables are not cheap, we all can admit to that! Cloth has a bigger start-up cost, but that's about it. Yes, you have to wash them, which uses money, but we use an energy efficient washer/dryer, so it doesn't factor in as a higher cost with us. Once you have a supply of cloth, there is no more cost (except for those of us that get addicted to some of those adorable cloth dipes or covers and can't stop buying more - but they are still cheaper than disposables, in my opinion!). It can be a couple to a few hundred dollars for the cloth supply versus a couple thousand dollars for disposables.
Baby's Skin - Cloth doesn't have a bunch of nasty chemicals in it. And you can use organic cloth if you really want. Yes, organic materials can be a bit more, but it still will be less than using disposable during the diapering years. Also, I change diapers pretty often to make sure Aiden's skin is not wet or irritated - and it doesn't cost me any more to do so. I change at least every two hours if not more often. This way, I know that he does not have urine against his skin for long periods, which exposes babies to bacteria and other things that cause rashes and infections.
Environmental Impact - This is a BIG one for cloth. Disposable diapers contribute an enormous amount to our landfills, and they take over 500 YEARS to decompose. Cloth is a greener option b/c you reuse them. You can even use the supply from one child for other children you may later have. Some say that once you factor in the use of water/energy to wash the cloth, using cloth isn't much better than disposables from a "green" standpoint. But this isn't true, especially if you use an energy efficient washer/dryer.
The poop - Ok, ok - cloth can be messy. I know you're thinking that. BUT I don't see this as a great argument against cloth. While baby is exclusively breastfed (I don't know as much about formula fed b/c mine does not get formula), you simply throw the poopy diapers in with the others and wash - there is nothing to get out of the cloth b/c it (sorry if this is gross, but we ARE talking diapers here) is runny and is absorbed into the cloth. Now, once baby is on solids, there is "real" poop, and you can't throw that in the wash, no. Some "swish" it in the toilet to get it off. We have a diaper sprayer, so we touch no poop. Spray and throw in the diaper pail with the others. Simple. Also - I hear most people that use cloth say they hardly ever or never have "blowouts" - and it's very rare with gdiapers. Blowouts are rather common with disposables, though - I'm not just thinking that; I've used sposies and have worked in a nursery...I know it. We never have blowouts - saves lots of clothes that way, too. ;) (Ok - we've had two...one was my fault b/c I put on a smaller diaper for just a moment b/c I had the others in the wash. My prayer that he didn't poop was not heard... The other time, he pooped without me knowing and was bouncing on his bottom...so the bouncing caused some...leakage - but still hardly any! Both times...not the diaper's fault.)
Laundry - Some people think you'll be doing so much laundry if you use cloth. No fun. Well, not-so-much. If you have a baby, you know you are already doing a TON of laundry. Heck, if you have a family of four or more, you do it often. Probably every other day or so. We do. So, what is another load along with that? I wash the diapers every third day, at least. It's simply one other load to do, and it's not a lot of work. Dump the diapers in the washer (I don't have to touch them b/c they're in a lined bag, so I just push them out from the bottom of the bag and throw in the bag, as well), do the wash, put them in the dryer, and then fold. Whoop-de-do, right? :) I feel that it takes just as much time to do this as it would if I had to go buy diapers and take them out to the trash when the pail is full of dirties. I usually load the diapers to have ready while I'm sitting down watching tv or something; doesn't take much time at all and requires little thought. And I spend no time trying to find coupons or the best deal on diapers. If you really aren't into the laundering thing, another option is using a diaper service. This would still cost a lot less than using disposables, from what I understand.
Another issue with laundry is what to launder with, as in detergent. You can't just use any ol' detergent and you can't use fabric softeners. They coat the cloth and will prevent absorbancy. We have looked into this some and use the same detergent for all of our laundry (and it's one that's better for the environment than many typical detergents). We use Country Save and love it so far. We also cut out using fabric softeners and use dryer balls. So the detergent issue isn't really an issue for us b/c we found something that works for the diapers and everything else. This stuff is also better for us with both boys having eczema - and Aiden's being pretty bad and easily aggravated. Once we're not using diapers, we'll still use this detergent, too. Also, instead of bleach, we use Grapefruit Seed Extract in with the diaper load to disinfect.
Potty Training - Ahhhhh...potty training. It is said that babes in cloth potty train earlier. They feel wet when they go in the cloth, unlike when they wear disposables. When Camden was potty training, I did not use pull-ups. In my opinion, they are just disposables that pull up instead of fasten with tabs. I used cloth trainers. And he was trained in NO time. Seriously.
Oh, and we use cloth wipes, too! We actually just bought some microfiber cloths (from Target - in the automotive department, of all places!). They were really cheap and do a great job. So, one more thing we never have to shop for. And we don't have to worry about all the things they put in disposable wipes. This wasn't something we planned on doing (whereas the diapers were planned - well, using gdiapers was planned...cloth was not planned, but here we are!). Our little one had some skin issues when he was born, and we didn't want anything to contribute and possibly make things worse, especially while we were still going through all the tests to find out what was going on. So, it was a very easy decision for us to eliminate any possible skin irritants, such as the disposables and wipes.
For the longest time, we just used water to wet the wipes before using each one. We just kept water in a small squirt bottle on the changing table. Once Aiden started on solids, his poop was thicker, so we felt we needed a bit more to feel like it was really clean. I put a squirt of California Baby Calming wash (that stuff smells soooo good!) in the bottle, along with 1-2 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE). That's it. You can buy special solutions for wipes and what-have-you, but many people use similar homemade solutions. It's easy, cheap, and works. The GSE is great for keeping bacteria away and reducing rashes, too.
Ok, your turn!! Share what you do and why. And be sure to vote on the poll (see sidebar), even if you choose not to comment. I would especially love to hear from people that have tried both cloth and sposies.
Remember the rules.... Be nice. No debating. This isn't about what is "right" or "wrong" - just sharing our methods. If you read this on facebook or via email, comment on the blog itself so we can keep the discussion in one place. When you comment, please include your name, as well. :)
PS - If you're interested in gdiapers, visit back soon. I'm going to post the tips and tricks I have learned with fit, cost, and everything else. :) Plus, I'll have coupons....