Monday, August 9, 2010

Mindful Monday: Diapering stats.

I'm listening to the washing machine swish a full load of cloth diapers (mainly inserts/prefolds). Some times people ask me, "Do you really save much money using cloth diapers? Is it really worth it financially?"

Honestly, I don't think I'd be cloth diapering if it were not for the significant savings. Sure, I love that it's good for the environment and better for my baby's skin, but it was the savings that had me really looking into it.

But, first, let's talk about disposable diapers. They are pretty nasty things. Of course, nowdays, we are so use to putting nasty things into our bodies and against our skin. We don't even realize what we're doing. We have no clue what is in the products we use. We seem blissfully ignorant.

Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process. It is a carcinogenic chemical, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. It is banned in most countries, but not the U.S..

Disposable diapers contain Tributyl-tin (TBT) - a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.

Disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, a type of super absorbent polymer (SAP), which becomes a gel-like substance when wet. A similar substance had been used in super-absorbency tampons until the early 1980s when it was revealed that the material increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome by increasing absorbency and improving the environment for the growth of toxin-producing bacteria.

In May 2000, the Archives of Disease in Childhood published research showing that scrotal temperature is increased in boys wearing disposable diapers, and that prolonged use of disposable diapers will blunt or completely abolish the physiological testicular cooling mechanism important for normal spermatogenesis. [Information from Real Diaper Association]

Ever had a disposable diaper explode on your child? Those little crystals that get all over their privates? NOT a good thing.

[Cloth diapers and BabyLegs... my favorite combination!]

In a household with just one child in diapers, disposable diapers make up 40-60% of the waste. I can definitely attest to this, as we've noticed we're not lugging as many trash bags to the street each week.

The financial side of things really hits home for me.

In the first 6 months of your baby's life, you will spend anywhere from $70 to $150 a month (depending on brand) for disposable diapers. This is when diaper changes are more frequent. Therefore, in the first six months of life, you have spent $420 to nearly $1000 on single use poo and potty catchers that will end up in a landfill.

The statistics vary, but most agree that each baby will use over 6000 diapers during the first two years of their lives, and parents will spend anywhere from $1500 to $3000 for these disposable diapers.

Cloth diapers cost much less and stretch much further.
-First of all, cloth diapers are reused time and time again. They can last through several children if cared for properly.
-You can buy used. This may seem disgusting at first, but many sites offer used diapers which have been completely sanitized and are stain free. This is a quite common practice among cloth diapering families.
-You can buy "seconds", which are cloth diapers (marked down in price) because of small imperfections (that usually don't affect the use of the diaper and often cannot be noticed by the "untrained eye").

[Keagan is not only wearing gently (and hardly) used diapers (Haute Pockets), but they were seconds when my friend purchased them!]

When I first started researching cloth, I was amazed by the high prices of some of the diapers. $25 for a pocket diaper? Remember, some people do it for the environment, not the savings. I know folks who have stashes that have cost them around a thousand bucks. I also have friends who have spent as little as $150 on their cloth system. (One friend makes her own, and they are fanastic looking!)

On the other hand, you might still feel it economical to invest in these pricey diapers because they will last you through a couple children and can be resold if in good condition. (I often see diapers being sold for $7-10 after being used for 2 years!)

Since we are trying to save money, we have chosen a method that is simple and inexpensive. Wipe-able covers (like Bummis Super Brite or Flip covers), which can be wiped down and reused a few times before being switched out for another cover, and prefolds (which are very inexpensive- ranging in price from $10 for a dozen to $40 a dozen, depending on the material, size, and brand). I believe the cover and prefold method is the most budget friendly method out there. Wipeable covers can be purchased for $6 brand new (Bummis covers are about $12.25 at most vendors), and you don't have to buy as many since they can be wiped down and reused several times in one day. (Unlike other systems in which the whole system has to be washed each time the diaper is soiled.) Covers like the Flip brand are adjustable and will last your child through their diapering years (although, you may want something more fitted during those first few newborn months) which makes them even more wallet-friendly.

Most cloth diaper brands offer package deals which make for even more savings.

Bummis (think BUM-ease) has a package deal for only $136-$170 (depending on size) which includes everything- covers, prefolds, flushable liners, reusable liners, and a wet bag. That's everything you need to start (minus the washer and dryer... and wipes). (However, remember you will have to purchase new covers, and likely more prefolds as your baby grows, but it's still an excellent deal and these covers and prefolds stretch quite a ways.)

Econobum is a lot like Flip diapers. Their starter kit includes 3 one-size (adjustable) covers and 12 one-size prefolds (which will grow with your baby) for just under $50. It's quite a steal (and, if you like the system, I'd recommend buying two of the starter kit)!

Flip's starter pack is smaller, but equally awesome. For around $50, you get 2 one-size Flip covers and 6 Stay-Dry one-size Flip inserts. Their inserts really are absorbant (as always, all inserts and prefolds need to be prewashed several times to reach adequate absorbancy).

Check out various sites, as you might find a better price some place else.

Make note: while Econobum covers and Flip covers may appear to be the same, there are differences. I've never tried Econobum, but most reviews favor Flip covers (less leaks, better fit). Flip covers are a couple bucks more, but worth the extra (so I hear). Also, Flip offers an assortment of colors, while Econobum is pretty plain. One of the pluses of cloth diapering is the cuteness factor, so wechose to spend a bit more on colorful Flips.

[The Flip System]

We love that some of our friends and family members, seeing our passion for cloth diapering, have gifted us some wonderful diapers which have allowed us to try other methods. (Some methods I'm eager to try but have to wait until Evangeline arrives!)

I recommend doing trade offs with other cloth diapering friends. That way you can try other systems (free) to see if you like them before investing in them.

I'd love to test out WeeHuggers (oh, they are so cute), but my favorite store was sold out, so I'm waiting.... semi-patiently.


Victoria said...

Good post! I love cloth diapering!

Leah said...

I'm planning to cloth diapering from the beginning with our new little guy coming in November. I've only had experience with Bumgenius in the past and didn't like them too much (but other people swear by them...) and looking forward to trying out the Flip sytem and some Grovia's!

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