Tick tick tick tick. Ding. Plus sign. Positive pregnancy test. Most people think of little knitted booties and soft cozy blankets. It’s not until they get to the check out lane that the sticker shock really gets to them–and they realize that they’ll be putting ‘diapers’ on the shopping list (and in the budget) every week for the next few years. For most Americans, that means that something else gets dropped out of the budget. The cost of everything is on the rise. Some parents are choosing between paying bills and providing diapers for their children. So they cook at home, clip coupons and turn the heat down, bundling up and snuggling instead of going out to dinner. Is this a good thing? I actually think so. It leads to more family time and a more deliberate lifestyle. As consumers, we’re buckling down, we’re making hard choices, and I think on the other side of this economic curve, we’re going to come out leaner, harder, and more financially savvy. So you’re asking yourself: What does this have to do with going green? In short, everything.
Disposable diapers are expensive. The average price is $0.25/diaper, with coupons. The older the baby gets, the more they cost. Sure, the price on the package is the same, but you get fewer diapers per package. Most people don’t think about the ecological toll that coincides with the financial hit to their wallets. It doesn’t come up in everyday conversation in most areas, but there IS a way to save on diapers. No coupons, no going with the bargain brand. Fewer leaks, fewer chemicals, and less waste. Call your grandma, and ask her what kind of diapers she wore. Go ahead. Chances are, she’ll say she was diapered in cloth. Picture that. Go ahead. I know you are anyway. Squares of cloth with pins that can draw blood. They were used over and over again, on every kid in the family, and it was super cheap. Okay now picture TV when your grandma was little. Either it didn’t exist or it was black and white. We’ve come a long way, right? HD, full color, 3-D, LCD. You name it. About the diapers: here’s a hint–if you can Velcro a shoe or snap a button on your pants, you can cloth diaper-no pins attached! That’s right, there are MODERN cloth diapers. Guess what? It’s still inexpensive, but super easy on you and the environment.
Consider the two charts below, one for disposable diapers only for ONE year, one for cloth diapers with accessories/detergent for TWO years. Kermit was wrong, the numbers don’t lie. It’s easy AND affordable to be green!
I based disposable diaper costs off of 30 days/month, 12 changes in the first month, 10 in the 2nd-4th month, and 8 changes thereafter. This in my opinion is a very low estimate. It does not include costs for trash bags, wipes, extra cost per bag for taking them to the landfill etc. Just the diapers themselves. The total for one year is almost $800. The next year would go on at approximately $60 x 12=$720, and assuming potty training somewhere between 2 and 3 (3 being the national average), the cost goes up from there. That’s more than $1500 for one child.
I based cloth diaper costs off of 24 *VERY EASY TO USE diapers from **Cotton Babies. They go on and off like disposables, using hard wearing snaps that are easy to launder. This is enough to wash every other day. You’ll notice I did not calculate the number of changes. It’s irrelevant, because you’re using the same 24! I added 2 pail liners, a small and a large wetbag (for quick trips to the store, or longer trips to visit family, the dirties have to go somewhere!), 24 wipes, and 6 bottles of detergent (3/year for 2 years). Just as I did not add in the cost of trash bags, wipes, and extra trash costs for disposables, I did not add in laundry costs for cloth. We have rural water, which is fairly expensive, but washing 2-3 times a week does not raise our bill in a cost-prohibitive manner. Same with our electric-the rural co-op costs more. Considering you’re saving approximately $267.55 the first year, and the second year being almost free, I consider the cost of water/electricity to run the machines to be negligible. Diapering beyond 2 years again costs only what detergent costs. Diapering a 2nd child with the same diapers is also possible (free, except detergent/water), as is selling your diapers if you are done with them. Yes, they are an up-front investment, but one that provides a return! You’re also money ahead on: protecting your child from chemicals, environmental friendliness (nothing in the landfill!) and cuteness.
Okay, they’re adorable, they’re cost-effective, they’re environmentally friendly. How hard are they to use and take care of is the next logical question, right? Pictures say a 1,000 words. See for yourself. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section!
To change a diaper
On wash day
Now that you’ve seen a couple of diapers, what do you think? Is it different than you expected? Can you picture your baby, Nephew, Granddaughter in cloth diapers? At first, I really didn’t understand how easy it was. I was hooked on the cost savings and thought that being environmentally friendly was a side benefit. I had no idea how much simpler cloth diapers made my life. No running to the store, no worrying about running out, or that you JUST put a diaper on the baby and she pooped AGAIN. My response to this now is laughter. I don’t see quarters dropping in the trash can when I change a diaper (something I used to envision each time I changed a disposable). Now I envision: money in my pocket, less landfill usage, less smell in the house (washing every 2 days is better than taking trash out once a week!), fewer rashes, fewer chemicals, a tree saved! I also see great potential for outfit matching. Oh yes, I scoff at those that dress their dogs up in sweaters, but I can’t wait for summer and to dig out a bright pink striped dress and put the zinnia diaper on under it! So the next time you hear someone say ‘babies are SO expensive…they go through so many diapers’.. send them here. Let them know that there are choices that can make their lives easier, $greener$, and more environmentally friendly!
*This is actually one of the easiest to care for diapers, is a brand new model and probably on the higher side as far as cost goes. You can cloth diaper for MUCH less, but I wanted to use the most user-friendly diaper in my cost analysis, just to show that even if you go ‘top of the line’, you’re still saving money! **Cotton Babies is a local-to-me cloth diaper store, that also has an internet presence. I’m writing this piece for a contest, but I have not received any form of compensation for the content. The winning blogger will receive a gift of 12 bumGenius One-Size Cloth Diapers for her own family. I wouldn’t know what to do with the diapers if I won. I’d probably sell off some of my least favorite current diapers, donate some, and give some away. What can I say? I love my cloth diapers! Mostly, I’m writing this because I’m hoping that in some way, I’m giving back to the person who wrote a blog post that got me interested in cloth diapers, saved us a lot of money, and made us very happy parents of 2 cuties that have used cloth diapers.