The often heard refrain when asked how you can save the environment by using cloth diapers `is “What can I do alone?”
The fact of the matter is that many small changes accumulate to make a big movement. Even a tiny activity adds up when you consider the sheer numbers of tiny humans who use mind boggling numbers of disposable diapers. Let us try and do the math here.
How many diapers does an average baby use till she is potty trained?
Most babies need diapers till the age of about three years. The smaller infants can need to up to 12 diapers a day and the numbers become smaller as they grow to toddlerhood. The toddler uses an average of 5-6 diapers a day. If we take an average of 8 diapers a day over 2.5 years as a safe estimate, the numbers add up to 2,920 disposable diapers a year and 7,300 diapers in all. Even if we use a rough estimate that’s about half a kilo per diaper and about 3650 kilograms of non-biodegradable waste that goes to the landfill per baby. Humongous figures when you add up the number that is generated world-wide.
What are the environmental hazards of disposable diapers?
There are many more wastes to consider when you talk about waste generation when we mention disposable diapers, not only the tonnes of diapers buried in a landfill for hundreds of years, but also associated products that go with their use. Disposable diapers need garbage bags, packaging material, and disposable wipes too! All are made of plastic and go directly to the landfill too!
Disposable diapers are made of synthetic materials, mostly petroleum by-products and wood pulp. These need a large number of chemicals to make them absorbent. Most of these chemicals have serious consequences when they leach into the soil and water table from landfills. Many disposable diapers are bleached to give them a clean white look. This uses chlorine which is again detrimental to the environment.
Let us not forget the process of making a disposable diaper needs thousands of litres of water. The transportation and distribution process also needs fuel and adds to the carbon footprint of every disposable diaper.
How can we minimize the potential environmental hazard?
The easiest way is to revert to our grandmother’s solution of using a cloth diaper albeit in a very modern way. Cloth diapers like Fig-o-honey are very convenient and reusable, reducing the load on the planet. Each cloth diaper lasts the baby till potty training kicks in, and can be used by your next baby too!
The new age cloth diapers fit snugly, are convenient to use and deemed very absorbent due to inserts that are very efficient. A little effort in washing is what is required. Once you scrape the solid waste in the toilet, just use a hand shower to rinse the diaper. Wash in a regular washing machine and air dry. The small step to saving the bio-hazard of disposable diapers is taken. Saving money along with your baby’s health and the environment was never easier than with Fig-o-honey pocket style cloth diapers.