Disposable diapers are the most convenient and popular choice to keep babies dry. However,disposable nappies are not the best for babies’ health and for the environment as they containhazardous chemicals. Additionally, usage of disposables diapers increases landfill pollutionsince they are thrown away after a single use. Therefore, for well-informed parents, washing cloth diapers or hybrid diapers have appeared to be a good alternative to preserve the environment and child health. But which type of diapers are really the best for your baby and for the earth?
Disposable Diapers: Environmental and Health consequences
For most parents, the main concern they have for their babies is to preserve their health, but they are not all aware of the toxic chemicals present in disposables diapers that they are putting in direct contact with their babies’ sensitive skin. Disposable diapers contain trace amounts of the carcinogen dioxin, a by-product of the paper bleaching process, which in various forms has been shown to cause cancer, birth defects, skin diseases, and genetic damage.
Other hazardous chemicals can be found in diapers such as: Tributyl-tin (TBT), a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems, and Sodium Polyacrylate, used to make diaperssuper absorbent. Sodium Polyacrylate is the same substance that has been removed from tampons because of its link to toxic shock syndrome. There are also a variety of different dying agents used in diapers, ranging from indicators informing the parent of wetness, to colored patterns for improved appearances that are often responsible for infants’ allergic reactions (red blotches, rashes, eczema…). According to the Journal of Pediatrics, 54% of one-month old babies using disposable diapers had rashes, 16 % having severe rashes. In fact, babies’ exposure to those hazardous chemicals is particularly a risk due to their high skin absorption and less developed metabolisms.
But, babies are not the only victims — the diaper industry is also particularly harmful to environment.
The carbon footprint of diapers is far from being neutral. The use of disposable diapers for only one child requires the felling of 4.5 trees and 55 lbs of petroleum plastic, or 147 lbs. of crude petroleum. For American babies alone, it takes approximately 80,000 pounds of plastic and over 200,000 trees a year to manufacture disposable diapers. Diaper production also needs large amounts of water (43 PT a diaper) and toxic chemical products (more than 50 enter the diaper composition).
Disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills, and represent about 4% of solid waste. It has also been estimated a disposable diaper will take about 250-500 years to decompose, overburdening landfills. Moreover, this untreated waste will possibly contaminate the groundwater supply as well as the air due to methane emission during the decomposition process.0
Considering the huge volume of waste created, the contamination of water and air, and thepotential health risks, is easy to understand why organic diapers are considered by more and more parents to be the perfect green alternative to keep baby dry. Indeed, cloth diapers are different; they may surely be healthier for your baby and better for the environment.
Modern cloth diapers are very different from the flat cloth diapers of the past that needed to be folded and fastened with diaper pins, and then covered with plastic pull-on covers. Reusable, modern cloth diapers come in a host of shapes, including innovations initially developed in the conventional diaper industry. But, above all, they are greener than traditional disposable diapers. However, their carbon footprint is not completely neutral.
The manufacture of cloth diapers requires few chemicals in comparison to traditional disposable diapers, and the only element that may require plastic are the diaper pants, but today there are many that are made from natural and organic fabrics. Usable up to 200 times, depending on conditions, cloth diapers can take a mere six months to decompose, an excellent end-of-life with very little environmental impact. The only drawback to this green solution is the power and water consumption linked to cloth diaper care. Washing diapers requires 2 gallons of water for each use (washing machine and toilet) but it is still 3 times less than a disposable diaper. Moreover, babies’ stools won’t end up in landfills; when thrown away in toilets, they will be drained off and treated by the waste water treatment system.
If cleaning cloth diapers is too time consuming, you can also choose hybrid diapers. It’s agreen alternative half-way between cloth diapers and disposable diapers. Hybrid diaperscombine the best of both types of diapers: the convenience of disposable diapers with some of the re-usable nature of a cloth diaper. Generally, eco diapers consist of an outer re-usable cover, very similar to those used in cloth diapering, and an inner disposable liner. The inner liners in hybrid diapers can be thrown away, or can be flushed in a toilet or composted for use in the garden. GDiapers have unbleached wood pulp liners, so they reduce baby’s exposure to some chemicals and introduce fewer chemicals to the environment, too.
If you insist on disposable diapers, then you should choose diapers made from bioplastics like those made by The Honest Company. They are biobased and chemical-free, making them better for your baby’s health and for the environment. They also come in a variety of cool designs and can be delivered to your home on a regular basis.
The choice between the different types of diapers available is a matter of personal preference and lifestyle. However, the green solutions still seem to be more cost-effective, eco friendly and healthier than traditional disposable diapers. Knowing the advantages and drawbacks of these three solutions will help you to make the right choice for you, your baby and the earth.
I’m indebted to my mother to have inculcated a great habit like reading in me. I still remember how she used to just gift books for the special occasions like birthdays and Diwali. Slowly her perseverance of this trend became a passion for me. This habit grew stronger as I grew up. I started working and the mounting pressure of work kept me away from reading for long spans of time. But whenever I got some pockets of idleness in between projects, reading always came to my rescue. It never let me be unoccupied. Besides just keeping me engrossed, reading helped me improve my vocabulary and general awareness about the world, introduced me to the different cultures around the globe, kept the motor of my brain working and imbibed a certain level of discipline in my life.
Reading is one of the best hobbies a person can have. But it’s saddening to know that majority of us aren’t introduced to the fabulous world of books. If you are one of the non-book readers who feels you “don’t need no stinking books”, here are some reasons to start the habit…before you are left behind!
- Reading is an active mental process: Unlike sitting in front of the idiot box (TV), reading makes you use your brain. While reading you would be forced to reason out many things which are unfamiliar to you. In this process you would use the grey cells of your brain to think and become smarter.
- Reading improves your vocabulary: Remember in elementary school when you learned how to infer the meaning of one word by reading the context of the other words in the sentence? You get the same benefit from book reading. While reading books, especially challenging ones, you will find yourself exposed to many new words you wouldn’t be otherwise.
- Gives you a glimpse into other cultures and places of the world: How would you know about the life of people in Mexico if you don’t read about it? Reading gives you an insight into the diversity of ethnicity of people, their customs, their lifestyles etc. You become more aware about the different places and the code of conduct in those places.
- Improves concentration and focus: It requires you to focus on what you are reading for long periods. Unlike magazines, Internet posts or e-Mails that might contain small chunks of information, books tell the whole story. Since you must concentrate in order to read, like a muscle, you will get better at concentration.
- Builds self-esteem: The more you read, the more knowledgeable you become. With more knowledge comes more confidence. More confidence builds self-esteem. So it’s a chain reaction. Since you are so well read, people look to you for answers. Your feelings about yourself can only get better.
- Improves memory: Many studies show if you don’t use your memory, you lose it. Crossword puzzles are an example of a word game that staves off Alzheimer’s. Reading, although not a game, helps you stretch your memory muscles in a similar way. Reading requires remembering details, facts and figures and in literature, plot lines, themes and characters.
- Improves your discipline: Making time to read is something we all know we should do, but who schedules book reading time every day? Very few… That’s why adding book reading to your daily schedule and sticking to it, improves discipline.
- Improves creativity: Reading about diversity of life and exposing yourself to new ideas and more information helps to develop the creative side of the brain as it imbibes innovation into your thinking process.
- You always have something to talk about: Have you ever found yourself in an embarrassing situation where you didn’t have anything to talk about? Did you hate yourself for making a fool of yourself? Do you want a remedy for this? It’s simple. Start reading. Reading widens your horizon of information. You’ll always have something to talk about. You can discuss various plots in the novels you read, you can discuss the stuff you are learning in the business books you are reading as well. The possibilities of sharing become endless.
- Reduces boredom: One of the rules I have is if I am feeling bored, I will pick up a book and start reading. What I’ve found by sticking to this is that I become interested in the book’s subject and stop being bored. I mean, if you’re bored anyway, you might as well be reading a good book, right?
If you want to break the monotony of a lazy, uncreative and boring life, go and grab an interesting book. Turn the pages to explore a new world filled with information and ingenuity.