Rebecca points out the economical, environmental, and spiritual sides of using washable, reusable diapers on your baby.
Recently, Green Prophet’s Karin talked about her experience with Kushies washable cloth diapers. It opens the debate about disposables versus cloth. Now Taking care of your kids and keeping them clean can be overwhelming, to say the least. Whether you are raising one or ten, does not take away from the fact that there is a lot of cleaning up that needs to be done. So when my friend Yael started telling me all about cloth nappies, I tried very much to switch off and not hear her words.
Who needs more cleaning? I thought to myself. More changes a day and then more laundry. No way! But, as the months dragged by and I was forced to walk down those bright supermarket and pharmacy isles twice a month, to fork out a lot of money on disposable diapers, I felt a spark of curiosity starting to ignite in me: “Just try one or two” Yael encouraged me, and she handed over a few of her own.
So, I tried and well, much to my husband’s horror, I became hooked and we entered the world of cloth—a world full of bright colours, Indian soap nuts, and a change of mindset.
So, I guess the more serious reader is probably asking themselves. Does it really make a difference? What about the cost of buying the nappies? The time spent maintaining them? The water expended on washing? Won’t my child have more nappy-rash?
Here are a few facts for you on washable diapers. Environmental facts:
• More than double the amount of water is wasted in the manufacture and use of disposable diapers than on cloth.
• 4% of solid waste found in landfills today is due disposable nappies; they also make up 50% of household waste.
• It is currently estimated that disposable nappies will take 250-500 years to decompose.
• The new trend of buying biodegradable nappies, is a good idea, however they cannot properly disintegrate, when they are wrapped tightly in a plastic garbage bag.
Health Facts on washable diapers
• My kids almost never had rashes and they both have sensitive skin- I simply ensured that I changed them more often, a habit that parents of disposable nappies don’t really get into.
• Due to all those nappies, sitting in landfills, not only can our groundwater be contaminated, but air-borne viruses can be carried by flies and other insects and contribute to an unhealthy and unsanitary situation. These viruses could include Hepatitis A, Norwalk and Rota Virus.
Economical Facts about washable diapers
• Here in Israel, an average, cheap deal you can find on disposable diapers is about 45NIS ($15) for a packet of less than 50 nappies. One child, raised on disposable nappies can run through 8000-10,000 diapers before being toilet trained. So we are looking at around 7,200-9000NIS for one child.
• When my first child was born, I invested around 4000NIS (about $1200) on different types of cloth nappies. The main Israeli company that I bought from Siach Hateva, allowed for paying in instalments. I invested another 65NIS on Indian Soap Nuts, for an eco-friendly nappy friendly wash. This bag lasted more than two years and on more than one child. When my second child was born, I invested another 2000NIS. My children were both toilet trained before 2 and these nappies are all folded and waiting for their next use. I may invest another 500NIS in the next child just to ensure optimum absorbency.
• The average nappy laundry load is two a week.
• The sun and hot Israeli weather was my greatest stain remover and efficient drier. That cost nothing.
And finally, the Emotional and Spiritual Facts on washable diapers
Using cloth nappies has been nothing but a blast. They are super gorgeous, to touch and look at and there is nothing like the sight of your beloved baby, crawling or toddling across the grass, in the summer with their sweet tushies covered in coloured cloth, rather than a soggy piece of plastic.
I once estimated that I dedicate 20 minutes a day to the cloth nappy process. This could include: changing, bucketing, washing or folding.
What could have been an unfortunate experience, of lonely hours of nappy changing and a stinky bin in my kitchen instead became a special part of our household, where we get to experience the pleasure of doing the right thing with our waste. This is something which connects me with the rest of the world and our beloved planet, over and over again.
I am looking forward to using them again already.