Cloth vs Disposable

Cloth or disposable? Which one is better? This debate has been going on since the 70s and 80s; and it continues today with each side saying theirs is the superior product. More people have turned to disposable diapers in recent years for convenience, but cloth diapers are making a comeback with new flushable linersCloth diapers are what all mothers used until disposable diapers became mainstream. These diapers are not as convenient or easy to dispose. But, at one time, cloth was all a mother had to work with. Today, cloth diapers are not our mothers diapers. There are new, flushable liners that allow mothers to easy flush the waste down the toilet. The fabrics are softer on baby’s skin and easier to clean and many now have velcro closure tabs; no more large safety pins! Advances in washing machines and tumble dryers also make it easier for moms to wash and dry the large amoung of diapers that are used, especially for newborns and infants.

Disposable diaper history starts in 1942 in Sweden. The first disposables had an inner lining made up of many layers of tissue paper. They showed up in the marketplace during the 1960s after pulp mill replaced tissue paper. At that time they were fairly expensive. Today’s disposable have an even more absorbent inner layer that they are more convenient than before. Disposables have also become more comfortable for babies, with new materials being used to make the diapers softer and more absorbant. Nowadays they will also draw moisture away from the skin to help prevent diaper rash. Resealable tabs and elasticated sides prevent leaks and allow babies to wear the diaper for longer periods of time. This helps moms and dads use fewer diapers and in turn create less waste.

Those who advocate the use of cloth diapers feel that the waste caused by using disposables will remain on the earth for many, many years since disposable diapers are not biodegradable. This can cause negative effects to the environment. With the type of materials used and the amount of processing they go through, disposables remain in landfills around 500 years. As a health measure many countries throughout the world have banned leaving untreated human waste in landfills. And so, they began incinerating the diapers, which leaves almost no residue. Still, not every country is taking these measures. On the otherhand, using cloth diapers aslo can be detremental to the environment. Cloth diapers have to be washed regularly using up water and electricity.

Another point of contention is cost. You have to take these questions into consideration: how many diapers am I using per month; how much am I spending on our diaper service; how much water and electricity am I using to launder the diapers? There are alot of valid points on each side for cost. To use strictly disposables, you may spend from $50 to $80 per month; to use cloth diapers and a service, you may spend the same. But to use cloth and launder them yourself, you may spend $25 to $60 per month.

It is all a matter of choice. Some parents use cloth diapers while at home and disposables when they go out. Others use strictly one or the other. Ultimately, we parents have to make choices based on what we think is the right thing to do and what fits into our lifestyle.

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