Friday, 16 March 2007

Lately, I've been pondering that age old question 'cloth vs. disposable'.
I'd like to think that I am ecologically conscious and all that, but let's face it. I'm also incredibly lazy.
There are a lot of minuses in my book for cloth diapers. First, I don't really like the idea of a diaper service. I don't know what kind of chemicals they are using to clean the diapers, but I'm not sure I like it going on my baby's ass. Then there's the leakage problem, I don't think I have to elaborate on that. Then there's the fact that I have a large family that gets together a lot. If I went with cloth, that means carrying stinky diapers all over the place.

On the other hand, disposables... convenient, but-

Whenever I'm faced with a tough decision like this, I like to research the hell out of it. In the course of that, I came across these cloth diapers. I like them because it addresses at least one if not two of my big problems. First off, they are machine washable at home and they don't want you to use bleach. They also say, they don't leak. I'm not sure I would just take their word for it, but it is a two part system with a waterproof outer layer which should prevent some of the leaking.
I did some number crunching. They say that if you want to use the Fuzzi Bunz exclusively you should buy at least 24 of the small and medium sizes each. That totals 960.00, which is a lot of money. After a quick boo at price of disposables at Costco, it seems that they come out to approximately $60.00 a month. If the kid is going to be in diapers until it is at least, say, about 2 years old, that totals out to $1440. Of course that's stretched out over the entire two years while the cloth ones are a huge initial cash outlay. The slightly cheaper, but kinda eww route for the cloth ones is ebay. Believe it or not, people sometimes sell the used ones there!

There is still my issue of carrying around the stinky diapers. I don't mind if I'm out for an hour or two, but if I'm out for dinner or something lasting a few hours, that's just a bit too gross for me. In my mind, the perfect solution would be to do both. Have the cloth ones for days at home and quick visits with people and disposables for longer trips. Does anyone know of someone who pulled this off? I'm afraid that the convenience of plastic will seduce me, and after spending a ton of money* for the cloth ones, I'll never use them.
What do you think? Should I give the cloth ones a whirl, or just revel in my planet killing laziness? I do still have a lot of time to consider it, but it's always good to have a head start.

*of course I'll be spending considerably less than the numbers I was throwing around above since the cloth won't be my only option.


Mel said...

We did a cloth diaper service for the first year with Abi as I was not in the mood to be dealing with the daily loads of diapers on top of the daily loads of baby clothes (luckily abi wasn't a pukey baby or it would have been worse). I would use disposables when we went out since I didn't want to schlep icky diapers across the city.

One thing to remember about cloth diapers, if your washing them yourself you will increase your laundry costs and hard minerals from the water do build up in the diapers over time which make them less absorbant.

Disopsables in Toronto no longer go into landfill, they can go into the green bin to be made into compost! This became a big deciding factor for me as Abi got bigger and wigglier and trying to wrestle a cloth diaper onto a squirming baby was becoming a two person job.

Not An Artist said...

As Mel points out, disposables can now go into the 'green' bin.

Plus, the average North American child is actually in diapers from between 34 - 40 months*, depending on who you listen to. That adds at least 12+ months to your calculation for disposables' costs, unless you plan to be a supermom when it comes to toilet training (and in order to save on daycare costs, this may be worth it, plus most daycares will typically only use disposables).

Another thing is that diapers come in sizes, and you will almost always end up overbuying one size (especially if you are planning to buy in bulk, ie at Costco) and end up having to double spend at some points.

Also... the environmental 'cost' of cloth diapers isn't as great as the cloth diaper companies make it out to be -- once you factor in the fuel costs and car pollution from using a service, not to mention the energy & water pollution impact of washing all those diapers.. well. Plus trust me, you will not want to be washing diapers on top of all the craziness of new motherhood.

*I'll have to hunt around for my sources on this. I did a project on diapering for P&G a few years ago, let me know and I can try to track down the research.

tapeheads said...

So Mel, you found you eventually went all the way with disposables huh? What kind of fastners did the cloth diapers have? What made it difficult to get Abi into them? and why were the disposables easier? Are you just going with disposables for this one?
As for the extra load of laundry a day, I don't think I'll mind that, hell we'll be doing laundry constantly anyway.
Michelle - Yes, I know that most kids stay in diapers longer than the two years I have down, I just used that time frame for computation purposes (I did say 'at least'!) And I do know that the enviromental costs are not as great as the cloth diaper people like to say. That's partly why I don't want to go with a service. But then with disposables, it's not just being able to put them in the green bin or not, there's all the manufacturing that goes into making them too! It's a real toss up for me. That's why I'm asking for everyone's input!
And yes, as a matter of fact, I do plan to be a supermom when it comes to toilet training! ;P

Mel said...

We used Comfy Cotton diaper service and I tried a bunch of diffrent covers, which I laundered myself. We had Bummis and Motherease covers and I think there were a few others in the mix. All but a few had velcro closures which I found would eventually get all fuzzed up and wouldn't grip as well. The ones with snaps I found wore out faster, but that might have been because they were plastic.

As Abi became more wiggly it was getting difficult to keep the diaper in the cover during change time, the disposables were easier to put on with just one hand while the other hand was used to try to hold her still.

Another reason for the switch was when she was starting on solids, some foods caused her to have a particularly acidic poop or pee that would develop into a nasty diaper rash if we didn't change her as soon as she finished the deed.

We always buy our diapers in bulk and have never run into the problem of having leftovers of the old size since most diapers tend to overlap by 5 lbs from one size to the next. If you do find yourself in the position of having leftovers you can always donate them to a shelter or list them on the FreeTOKidsReuse yahoo board.

We will be doing disposables with this baby right from the start.

Donna said...

We started with a cloth service but admittedly changed fairly quickly. I found that the Ash-man developed a diaper rash fairly quickly and tha they were pretty tricky to use (and bulky).

Once they start really moving and spinning, you REALLY don't have time to fuss around. It is amazing as to how strong and fast these little guys are. There are days that even gettin ghim into a regular diaper is a two person gig. one to distract and one to do the deed.

I had only a couple of times where I had double sizes of diapers. The Costco ones are actually my current favourite, I find they fit quite well. Not and Artist is right though, trust me, you will not want to have to deal with laundry. Just doing the laundry for the 2 sleepers and 3 outfits that they can go through in a day (plus your clothes) can take up quite a bit of time! Add to that the fact that doing laundry with a child can be ummm an adventure. Especially when they get older and are harder to carry.

Melanie said...

My mom had 4 kids with cloth diapers, but she would always use the disposable ones for when she went on visits, etc. Also, pick the cloth diapers you want and then put them on your baby shower list - cause you'll be having at least one, and your friends are the generous sort.