Wednesday, October 22, 2008

cloth diapers?

ok, let me preface this by saying...

1- i'm not pregnant
2- i have lots of friends who use/are considering using cloth diapers
3- i have nothing against anyone who uses cloth diapers (i just think it's kind of gross)
4- i know people use cloth diapers for more reasons than the environment, for example, cost.

i came across this article yesterday and was really surprised by what it said. this is a british article and i'll post the link at the bottom if you prefer to see the website it came from. i really am interested to hear your reactions to this.

Blow to image of ‘green’ reusable nappy

A government report that found old-fashioned reusable nappies damage the environment more than disposables has been hushed up because ministers are embarrassed by its findings.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has instructed civil servants not to publicise the conclusions of the £50,000 nappy research project and to adopt a “defensive” stance towards its conclusions.

The report found that using washable nappies, hailed by councils throughout Britain as a key way of saving the planet, have a higher carbon footprint than their disposable equivalents unless parents adopt an extreme approach to laundering them.

To reduce the impact of cloth nappies on climate change parents would have to hang wet nappies out to dry all year round, keep them for years for use on younger children, and make sure the water in their washing machines does not exceed 60C.

The conclusions will upset proponents of real nappies who have claimed they can help save the planet.

Restricted Whitehall documents, seen by The Sunday Times, show that the government is so concerned by the “negative laundry options” outlined in the report, it has told its media managers not to give its conclusions any publicity.

The report found that while disposable nappies used over 2½ years would have a global warming impact of 550kg of CO2 reusable nappies produced 570kg of CO2 on average. But if parents used tumble dryers and washed the reusable nappies at 90C, the impact could spiral to . 993kg of CO2 A Defra spokesman said the government was shelving plans for future research on nappies.


Jaime said...

Interesting! I had never looked into the environmental side of this before. We used cloth diapers for Abigail until I went back to work, then it was impossible to continue! We made our choice due to finances because disposables (that don't leak) are so expensive and my mom made a lot of our cloth diapers and so they were free to us! :)

carmen said...

That is interesting. As you've acknowledged, there are many reasons for choosing cloth over disposable besides the environment. However, I do have a hard time believing that dumping millions of pounds of synthetic disposable diapers into our world's landfills is really better for our environment than the energy used to wash cloth ones.

Marie said...

I just like the word nappies. Maybe I'll start using that from now on! In my most perfect "supernanny" voice of course!

I'll have a more mature response when I have more time.

niKnox said...

I like that they included the heat and water needed to wash them... However, with anything considered "green", it can easily change depending on what criteria you consider. For example, diapers in a landfill can add toxins such as chlorine and plastics to groundwater resources. If you use a solar heated water tank - you cut down on energy use tremendously. An energy star washer would make the most of the loads that you must do... Regardless I appreciate the step that reusable diapers take... and look forward to see what other innovative solutions solve even more problems.

Anne said...

So, I am forwarding this to one of my friends that loves doing cloth diapers. Are we sure the article wasn't a hoax? They seem to be overlooking so many issues in their "research."

Cassie said...

Well that settles it. I'm going to go with the Chinese on this one. Split pants. Nothing to throw away or wash.

dlyn said...

Very interesting - I have seen studies like this before. I always used cloth but back when my kids were in diapers the disposables were terrible and really really expensive. When the kids and grands are visiting, I am glad for the disposables :)

Correnta said...

Well this new mommy thinks the best thing for the environment around her is disposable diapers b/c I hate doing laundry and just getting the poppy stains out of her clothes when there is a blow out it hard enough. I would NOT be a happy camper if I was washing diapers all the time and those around me would not enjoy the environment of a cranky mommy! Adam wanted to do cloth - I said sure if he hired a laundry service for me - we use disposable. We do recycle A LOT! So this eases my conscience. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi I came across your blog.. A great debate indeed. I have twins that are 2 months, an 18 month old and three year old. I do so much laundry as it is!!! I think I would spend more time doing laundry and less with my kids, hence we use disposable. I think I will wear my jeans 3 or four times before washing to save the planet, and spend more time reading books I check out from the library and dressing my kids in hand-me-downs... (also saving the environment!!!) Good post tho!