Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Read and Respond

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to your article in the May/June 2008 issue of The Mix, "The Diaper Dilemma: Minimizing the Enviro-Butt Print." While I appreciate the author's attention to cloth diapering options in the discussion of the most environmentally-friendly way to diaper our children, I believe she missed the mark on one major point. After her assessment of the g-Diaper System, she confidently states that this method is better for the environment than cloth diapers because the inserts biodegrade and "they don't use the energy it would take to clean traditional cloth diapers." This statement does not take into account that continually buying g-Diapers - a product that is made in a factory, packaged in plastic and trucked thousands of miles to get to our Co-ops in the first place - is NOT a sustainable option. On the contrary, buying one set of cloth diapers* for your child to be used repeatedly and washed in your home removes the need to continually have more diapers and liners produced for your family in a factory in the first place, therefore decreasing the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere from the production. We have been cloth-diapering our son, Jackson, for two years and intend to reuse his diapers for his sibling (due to arrive this summer). You can't tell me that using my high-efficiency front-loader washing machine to clean his diapers at home takes more energy than producing and distributing g-Diapers. Perhaps the only thing that could make our diapering situation more energy-efficient and cost-effective would be a clothesline in the backyard (which we hope to finally set up this summer).

Please re-think this issue from all angles. The article appeared to this reader as an advertisement for Seventh Generation disposable diapers and the g-Diaper System simply because the Co-ops are not yet selling cloth diapers in the stores. I do agree that the disposables mentioned in the article are the better choices for non-cloth diapers, but please do not discount the simplicity, energy-efficiency, cost-savings and downright good sense that cloth diapers represent. They may not be for every family, but your article did not do a lot to encourage new families to try them out, either.

Thank you for your time.

Seward Co-op member and The Mix reader since 2001

*Many cloth-diapering friends of mine have even made their own diapers and wool soaker covers at home, thus reducing the "enviro-butt print" for their families even further.


thursday said...

I have to agree that something is always left out when determining the "carbon footprint" of one thing over another... Including the diapers - what is the value of the water used in laundering? what is the value of the landfill space used up when the items are inevitably thrown out? How much energy does it take to get those items to the store, home, etc.?
I think it's great that you think about this stuff - I get wrapped up in trying to find the perfect answer, and then realize there isn't one!

TinkingBell said...

I made (and bought locally made) cloth (flannellette) nappies which were shaped like disposables - elastic around legs and velcro waists - those nappies served 2 children from birth to nearly 3, then were passed on for the use of other children. They were soaked in Napisan and then cold washed and line dried. They were covered with either fluffy pilchers, or wool soakers. I did use disposables when travelling and when the kids were older, at night. But making, transporting,buying and disposing of disposable leaves a HUGE carbon footprint (especially because they have to get to tasmania)
Go cloth - every time (but don't be too proud to sometimes use the disposables - they have their place!)

Aunt Jenny said...

Awesome letter Catherine!
And I agree completely with you. I cloth diapered my babies and would do it again every time without a second's hesitation!!
Good for you!

Knittymama said...

Thanks for writing that. I was sooooo irritated with that article. It was one big ad.

Jacqueline said...

Hehe, I saw that article too, assumed they'd be singing the praises of cloth diapers and adorable wool soakers, and skipped right over it (seeing as I don't currently have any use for diapers of any sort). Guess I didn't miss much.