19 September 2011

Cloth Diapering 101

Welcome to Cloth Diapering 101! My first installment of Green Means Go(od). I'll focus on cloth diapering every Monday for the remainder of September. This is an introduction, so please watch for more cloth diapering love throughout the month.

My exposure to cloth diapering started very early. In fact, I wore cloth diapers when I was a baby, like most of my generation. I can remember folding mounds of cloth diapers when my twin brothers were babies. I was five when they were born, so I was well within the age when helping out was expected - especially since I was the second of five kids. The thing is, my mom wasn't being Eco-conscious. She was, however, being economical. It was the early 1980s and disposable diapers were not affordable for most families - especially one with five kids.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, disposable diapers became the norm and most parents invested in diaper genies to dispose of the waste. However, a movement back to cloth diapering emerged in the late 1990s and continues to gain popularity. And today's diapers aren't my mama's cloth diapers. There is a growing industry of cloth diaper companies that specialize in the newest designs and most convenient models.

I was reintroduced to cloth diapers by my former neighbors in Austin (the same neighbors who introduced me to the birthing center). They used Fuzzi Bunz and had nothing but good things to say about the diapers. We shared a clothes line in our communal backyard, so I saw those diapers drying often. When we started to think about diapers, we consulted the Austin Baby Store, a great locally owned store in Austin that started as a diaper service and has grown into a a natural parenting store.

Nate and I were motivated to use cloth for two major reasons: environmental and economical. Strangely, the economics of cloth diapering has kept me motivated to continue using them more than the environmental reasons (although that's a nice secondary benefit). I think we spent a total of $300 to purchase 16 diapers and a diaper pale liner, another $50 for a special pale, and another $60 for four new diapers when Lila was born. All told: less than $450. Now, I realize that doesn't include the water costs or the energy costs related to washing our diapers, but let's look at a crude economic comparison. Say we spent $10/week on diapers for Benny's first three years of life: That's approximately $1,560 we would have spent on disposable diapers. And let's say Lila is potty trained by two (I'm optimistic): That's $1,040. Together, we would spend around $2,600 ON DIAPERS! A $450 investment doesn't seem so bad.

OK, now let's look at this picture more realistically: We do use disposable diapers on occasion. Lila wears them to bed and if she has a nasty diaper rash (we don't like to use diaper rash cream with the cloth diapers). And Benny still wears pull ups to bed. However, we buy a new pack of diapers once every two months or so at $15/month. Hypothetically, we'll spent around $850 on disposable diapers total (yikes!). However, that puts our investment in diapering at around $1,260 all told. That's nearly $1,500 in savings!

If we were really hard core, we'd save over $2,000 overall, which is a lot of dough.

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