When Babies Destroy the Planet

disposable diapers

Diaper cakes: So cute, so destructive! Credit: deovolenti

I’ve always been fairly environmentally minded. I recycle as much as possible. I try to walk to run errands when I can. I conserve electricity and gas to help both the earth and my budget. And when my daughter was born, I had the best of intentions to cloth diaper. I really did.

As you might have guessed, it didn’t work out. I totally blame my husband. He was against it and quite vocal about his opposition even as I plowed ahead, buying cloth diapers and wipes. The hubs was more concerned about adding to my laundry workload than saving the environment; he didn’t think I’d have the time, energy or desire to do extra loads of laundry. I cloth diapered for a couple of months—while my husband stubbornly used disposables—until my daughter outgrew the sizes I had. Then I just didn’t buy the next size. And so my short affair with cloth diapering ended.

Cloth diapers have their ups and downs, and some people swear by them for the cost savings alone. And while they have their own environmental impact with the added water, detergent and energy used, the diaper isn’t taking up space in a landfill somewhere. For me, I had to pick my battles, and I decided that cloth diapers weren’t one of them. I felt better after reading Jason Good’s article, hilariously named “Enlarge, Use, Waste” about his near-criminal use of baby wipes and the wasted food in his house of kids. I can relate:

“Using paper products with total disregard for trees is one of the only things that keeps this family functioning. If you told me I had to stop using a box a day of unscented baby wipes, I would say, “Well then I guess this is the end, isn’t it?”

Being a parent is tough stuff, as is keeping your house from being a totally drooly, Cheerio-filled disaster area. If paper towels and disposable diapers and wipes can help keep me sane (and drool and spit-up free), I’m willing to have a slightly larger environmental impact until we pass the diaper-and-wipe stage. I’ll make up for it, I swear. I’ll continue flushing as much poop as I can rather than throwing it away. I’ll gift, sell or donate toys and clothes the kids outgrow. I’ll breastfeed so as to save formula container waste. But I just can’t cloth diaper. Although I may reuse my small cloth diapers with my next kiddo. I said I’d do what I can…

Did your carbon footprint grow when you had kids? Any environmental battles that just aren’t worth fighting at the moment? —Erin


Comments

  1. Kathy says

    My husband and I had the same debate. He refused to use the cloth diapers. I used them for six months or so and then it just became easier to use the disposable ones. I apologize to the planet!

  2. Sarah says

    Same here. I used the cloth diapers until my daughter was eating enough solids that I couldn’t just wash the diapers. I’m sorry, swishing nasty poopy cloth diapers around in an ancient low-flow toilet with about two inches of water in it so that I can try to figure out what to do with the wet sloppy diaper is not on my parenting agenda at the moment. I’m telling myself that I will try again once her poop becomes more solid…

  3. Kali says

    gDiapers are awesome. I used them on my last son. You can use the flushable/compostable insert or use cloth inside the covers. The best of both worlds!

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