Diapers. Once you bring your bundle of joy home, the existence of diapers in your daily life becomes extremely important. What diapers will fit little Chester best? Are they soft enough? Do they leak? Did we remember to buy more or did we forget because we haven't slept in 72 hours? The majority of people I have spoken with about their diaper choices have not expressed a concern for the environmental impact of their chosen brand or style. Price and comfort seem to be the deciding factor.
Now that I have been using regular disposable diapers for two years, I started to ruminate on the fate of these diapers. Every time I pull that shiny blue diaper log of out of my Diaper Genie, I can't help but wonder what will happen to that bag once it hits that landfill. I suspect that it's probably much like the fate of the Twinkie. Remember when that urban myth started circling about Twinkies? The one that claimed they never expire or break down because they are filled with horrid ingredients that remain intact forever? Well, of course that is not the case with Twinkies, but it certainly is with disposable diapers.
I turned to the trusty Internet to find out just how gnarly disposable diapers really are. I found several explanations, none of which were good. According to the U.S. EPA, the plastics and polyethylene components used in diapers take around 500 years to degrade in a landfill. When you calculate how many diapers you will use in the first few years of your child's life, then consider the ones from every other child in your town, it adds up to a veritable mountain of poopy plastic stewing in your local landfill for generations to come.
The solution to this would be just to use cloth diapers, right? Wrong. There is a heated debate on this issue. An interesting comparison of the two options can be found at www.mindfully.org. The research discussed there shows that the production, transport, and cleaning of cloth diapers uses significantly more energy and water than disposables, which has a negative impact on the environment as well.
All of this brings us to our third option, biodegradable disposable diapers. Sounds pretty simple doesn't it? Until you realize you are paying twice as much per package. Diapers.com is selling biodegradable diapers in a pack of 23 for $12.29. I am currently getting double the Huggies for just a few bucks more. That just doesn't jive with my budget. I need that extra money for wine. Plus, the folks at www.clothdiaperblog.com point out that any material needs sunlight to degrade, and a biodegradable diaper smushed into a plastic bag will hang out forever anyway, just like it's chemical plastic counterpart. What's a mom to do? I care about our environment, and don't like the thought that I am mindlessly helping to pollute the earth with my son's stinky diapers. The problem is there doesn't seem to be a clear winning option. I think I will stick with my Huggies for now. And start reading up on potty training. While eating a Twinkie.
Filed under: Parenting