How to Green Your Diapering Routine
Diapers are one of those necessary evils when you have a baby. Even if you haven’t thought much about waste reduction before, it’s hard to ignore the amount of diapers and wipes you toss every day. The obvious solution is to opt for cloth diapers. But there are some things to consider with those as well, since they do have to be washed and they really aren’t for everyone. So what’s an ecoparent to do when faced with the decision of how to diaper their baby? I’ll break it down for you.
There is advice and resources as far as the eye can see when it comes to cloth diapering. The truth is, you need to find a diapering system that works for you and that might not be what works for someone else. Here are some more cloth diapering tips and tricks to help you learn how to do it. Cloth diapers are obviously a great way to reduce waste, but they are also a great way to avoid chemicals often found in conventional disposable diapers (more on that below). You can often buy gently used diapers from your local buy-and-sell group as a cost-effective way to build your supply.
I recommend visiting a store that specializes in cloth diapers if you can. The staff can walk you through the different options and help you decide what will work with your lifestyle. If the laundry component is daunting, you can look into services that launder the diapers and return fresh ones to your door. Be sure you understand what they use to clean the diapers, however, as they could be introducing chemicals that you’re trying to avoid.
If you’re already cloth diapering, using cloth wipes (wash cloths, pre-made wipes, or cut up t-shirts) is a no-brainer. In the beginning, you can often just use water. If you need something a little more cleansing and soothing, you can make your own wipe mix – I put mine in a mason jar with a pump for easy dispensing.
If you use disposable wipes, be sure they are going in the garbage. Wipes are wreaking havoc on our water treatment systems and even if they’re labeled as degradable or flushable, wipes and other personal care products should never go in the compost or the toilet.
Cloth doesn’t work for everyone. If you’ve given it a try and just can’t make it work for you, don’t feel bad. But don’t toss your eco-parenting goals completely out the window. Conventional diapers often include synthetic fragrance chemicals but, unlike cosmetics, are not required to disclose their specific ingredients. These chemicals may include known or suspected carcinogens, hormone disruptors, and/or allergens. What’s more, diaper manufacturers in Canada are responsible for self-verifying that they meet health and safety standards (i.e. there is no 3rd party oversight).
Look for diapers that are made without chlorine and fragrance. Opt for more natural brands that use plant-based materials as the absorptive material and are plastic-free.
Whether it’s your first or your fourth baby, there’s always something new to learn and figure out. It’s never too late to start greening your diaper routine, and if you opt for cloth the sooner you start the more money you will save over your diaper-changing career.