Do you ever stop and think about your consumption of disposable products? Do you take trash out to the curb or dumpster each week? How often? How much? For many Americans, daily life includes toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, facial tissues, and for many parents this list includes disposable diapers and wipes. That is a lot of waste we create for the sake of convenience. I know in my household, we rarely use any of these disposable items and cloth diapering is one way we manage to create far less waste than other parents.
The Great Cloth Diaper Change is on again for this year. Join parents and caregivers all over the world to set another record for most cloth diapers changed at the same time! The GCDC is Saturday, April 21. Find a location near you and take part in this fun event!
In conjunction with the great Cloth Diaper Change is Real Diaper Week, running from April 16 – 21, and the focus will be advocacy and education. The theme of the 2012 Real Diaper Week is “Real Simple. Real Diapers.”, and each day will center on certain educational topics. The theme for today for Real Diaper Week is Waste Reduction.
I have two children. My son Lucky, turned two years old last month and my daughter Wyn is just three months. Both of my children are in diapers. Not just any diapers, but cloth diapers. We go through a ton of diapers each day. I know this because in order to keep up with diaper laundry for both kids, I need to wash cloth diapers every day. The other day my laundry routine was off by a day and I ended up washing, drying and folding diapers for both kids. I spent over an hour folding, stuffing, and putting away cloth diapers and prepping cloth wipes.
I finally emerged from the bedroom and exclaimed to my husband “Did you know we go through 16 diapers a day in our house and that is far fewer than we used a couple months ago when Wyn was first born?“.
Think about it. Our 16 diapers a day equals an average of 112 diapers per week. Which would mean 5,824 diapers a year. It is estimated to take up to 500 years for a disposable diaper to break down. So my small family could put 5,824 diapers in to the landfill in just one year, where they will sit and fester for up to 500 years. I will not even bring up the raw materials that go into creating those diapers. I have one word for describing that much waste from one household: Insane. Well, OK, gross also comes to mind. I am not saying we have never used a disposable when the occasion warrants one, but 99% of the time my children are in cloth.
In addition to cloth wipes, UNpaper towels, reusable hankies, cloth napkins, and fabric rags, cloth diapers are another way my family makes a large effort to reduce our consumption of products in general and reduce our household waste. I, for one, never want to spend my time and energy lugging 112 diapers to the curb every week. My daughter used the same cloth diapers her older brother wore when he was a newborn. And when or if we have a third child, that child will wear his or her older siblings’ cloth diapers. If one child can use around 2,500 diapers per year with an average of two diapering years per child, then the four children I hope to have would go through about 20,000 diapers before potty training. My toddler is showing no signs of being ready to potty train yet, so that estimate is definitely on the low end. Can you imagine what 20,000+ diapers look like in a landfill? I do not want to be responsible for that, so cloth is the way to go for our family. I know cloth diapers are not for everyone, but given the chance, they could make a huge impact on our waste problem in this country.
For more information on cloth diapering, check out the blogs in the linky below! Later this week, The Real Simple, Real Diapers Event will tackle topics like cloth diapering economics, traveling with cloth, waste reduction, and the health benefits of cloth diapers.