The Diaper Debate, Revisited

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Ahh, the great diaper debate: cloth or plastic? Ease or ecology? Well, this Slate article compared a 1992 study with a more recent 2005 study to figure out which type of diaper was the most eco-friendly choice. Curious about the results? Click through to read their conclusions...

The 2005 study concluded that there was "no significant difference" between the environmental impact of cloth and disposable diapers. Keeping a child clad in home-laundered cloth diapers for 2.5 years emitted 1,232 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent, vs. 1,380 pounds for disposable diapers.

However, a flaw in the study released in 2005, is the authors of the study used water and energy consumption figures for machines made in 1997 – a decade later we now have much more efficient machines. Additionally, the study doesn’t figure in the waste generated by plastic diapers compared to cloth diapers.

“The bottom line is that cloth diapers are greener than run-of-the-mill Pampers and Huggies, as long as you're committed to an energy-efficient laundry regimen. But that commitment takes more than just an EnergyStar washing machine and a clothing line for air drying.”

The key point the article made was that regardless of your decision, the diaper debate too often overshadows other wasteful aspects of baby care. There is much more CO2 emitted to make and transport all the other objects that go into raising a baby: clothes, furniture, toys, etc. Consider going second hand for these items and you’ll make much more of an environmental difference.

For more details on the study, ready the full article at Slate.

More diaper related posts:

Best Eco-Friendly Diaper?
• Look!: Composting Diapers, Food and Leaves
• Swaddlebees Organic Diapers
• Good Questions: Cloth Diapering in an Apartment?
• Greener Lifestyle With Baby
• Best Products: gDiapers
• Nature Babycare Diapers
• Store: WildFlower Diapers

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Rachel is an Chicago-based architect and LEED Accredited Professional. When she's not designing homes, she enjoys spending her free time traveling, gardening, and playing with her french bulldog.