Raise your hand if you actually enjoy changing diapers.
As a dad, I get it. Changing diapers is one of the dirtiest line items in a parent’s job description. More often than not, the objectives are simple: clean up the mess and get rid of the mess as quickly as possible.
But do we ever take a moment to think about where that mess actually goes?
Yep, a landfill just like this one.
The stats on disposable diapers in landfills are no joke.
Using a very conservative estimate, babies go through about six diapers a day. Even if a baby is a rock star at potty training and figures it out by the time she’s 2 years old, that’s over 4,000 diapers she went through. If a child spends a longer time in diapers, the numbers (and diapers) will keep piling up.
Studies have shown that disposable diapers rank third in terms of the consumer items taking up the most space in our landfills, and over 90% of single-use diapers end up there. It’s also estimated it will take anywhere from 250 years to 500 years for disposable diapers to decompose.
Put simply, that ain’t good.
We all want a cleaner world for our babies, right? Some believe we should start with what we attach to their rear ends.
Jennifer Aprea is a married mom with two children living in Huntington Beach, California. When her daughter Danielle was 2 months old, she decided to give cloth diapering a try.
“Not to be too graphic, but her poop would go everywhere whenever I nursed with her,” Jennifer told Upworthy. “I looked into the cloth option because of the elastic on the back, but I’ll admit that I was a skeptic at first.”
Not only is Jennifer completely sold on the idea now, but she’s also an advocate for how cloth diapering can help families and the environment.
But isn’t cloth diapering kinda … um, gross?
Jennifer can’t help but laugh this one off.
“Dealing with gross stuff is a regular part of parenthood,” Jennifer said. “All parents deal with bodily fluids and other messiness from their kids no matter what type of diapers they use.”
As mentioned earlier, she prefers cloth diapers because she believes the strong elastic contains messes better than disposables. Additionally, Jennifer also created an ingenious device called the Spray Pal which makes it so parents can quickly clean their kids’ diapers without getting dirty themselves.
But that’s not all.
Jennifer’s son, Ryan, was a micro-preemie born at 25 weeks and weighing 1 pound and 13 ounces. He spent seven months in the neonatal intensive care unit, came home on oxygen and a feeding tube, and was discovered to be profoundly deaf and visually impaired upon discharge.
Even with those health challenges, they still used cloth diapers during time he was in the NICU and still use them today.
Although some believe cloth diapering is an unnecessary time-consuming nuisance, Jennifer isn’t buying it. All it takes is an open mind.
“We had a newborn in the NICU, his toddler sister was running around like crazy, I was running a business, and I taught part time,” Jennifer said. “If I can can do it, anyone can.”
To some, the jury’s still out regarding whether cloth diapers are better for the environment than disposables, but cloth diapers win big in one regard.
Due to the amount of water it takes to clean cloth diapers and other factors, some have questioned how environmentally-friendly reusable diapers truly are. That debate will continue for a while, but cloth diapers have a huge advantage in passing used (but clean!) ones to those in need.
Giving Diapers, Giving Hope sets a great example as a nonprofit organization that provides cloth diapers to low-income families. Many of the diapers are donated by other families after they were used and thoroughly cleaned.
“Good luck trying that with disposable diapers,” Jennifer said.
At the end of the day, we all want what’s best for our children now, but we should also think about their future. Will cloth diapering help to make the world a better place?
That’s up to you to decide.