Disposable diapers are one of the biggest source of pollution and wasted resources on the planet, and are harming babies’ health… even the “eco-friendly” ones
As humans wake up to the destruction caused by disposable plastics, we are reevaluating every purchase from plastic straws to Ziplock bags.
Representing a third of all non-biodegradable waste in landfills, disposable diapers need to be at the top of our list of plastic products we need to stop buying.
Below is a list of 10 reasons it’s time to evolve beyond disposable diapers:
1. Backing up landfills. Americans send nearly 30 billion disposable diapers to the landfill every single year. That’s 14 million tons of toxic waste that will take approximately 500 years to decompose.
Each baby creates a ton of non-biodegradable waste in 2 years of disposable diapering.
Diapers represent nearly a third of all non-biodegradable waste in landfills. Even so-called biodegradable diapers need sun and air to break down, which they typically don’t get because they are buried in trash.
2. Ending up in the ocean. Much of the plastic in landfills is carried by wind and rain into our drainage networks and rivers that flow into the ocean. Major rivers around the world carry an estimated 2 million tons of plastic into the sea every year.
3. Contaminating ground water. Our landfills currently contain 5 million tons of untreated human waste, which contaminates ground water and spreads disease.
The American Public Health Association advise parents that fecal matter and urine should NOT be disposed of in the regular trash for this reason.
In fact, disposable diaper packages all have instructions for rinsing the diaper and flushing feces down the toilet before putting it into the trash. Obviously no one does this, and if they did, they might as well use cloth diapers.
4. Wastes water. Even after all the washes your cloth diapers go through, diapering your baby in disposable diapers uses twice as much water in the manufacturing process.
5. Wastes energy. It takes 3.5 times as much energy to manufacture disposable diapers as it does to manufacture and wash cloth diapers.
6. Wastes oil. Disposable diapers use 8 times more non-renewable raw materials like oil and minerals.
It takes about 1 cup of crude oil just to make the plastic for just 1 disposable diaper.
We use 3.4 billion gallons of oil a year to manufacture disposable diapers in the U.S., enough to power 5 million cars per year.
7. Wastes trees and cotton. Disposables use 90 times more renewable raw materials like tree pulp and cotton. A quarter million trees are cut down each year for disposable diapers in the U.S.
8. Loaded with toxic chemicals. Babies skin absorbs about 50 different chemicals from disposable diapers, wipes and standard baby products. This can be greatly reduced by using cloth diapers and natural baby products.
9. Sodium Polyacrylate. These are the small, shiny, gelatinous crystals that you find in your baby’s private parts that make diapers absorbent. Even “eco-friendly” diapers contain them.
The gel can cause allergic reactions, severe skin irritation, oozing blood from perineum and scrotal tissues, fever, vomiting and staph infections in babies.
Sodium Polyacrylate was banned from tampons in 1985 because of its link to Toxic Shock Syndrome, but is still present in almost all disposable diapers.
10. Cloth diapered babies potty train faster. Because they’re not super absorbent, and babies don’t like the feel of wet diapers on their skin, cloth diapers must be changed right away, reducing the risk of rash, and speeding up the process of potty training faster.
A combination of cloth diapers and elimination communication is the most eco-friendly and baby-friendly option. If you have the time, you can also look into going fully diaperless. For more info, click here: