View Poll Results: Disposable or cloth diapers?

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  • Disposable diapers

    26 83.87%
  • Cloth diapers

    5 16.13%
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Thread: Environmental impact of diapers

  1. #1

    Default Environmental impact of diapers

    According to some research I did a while ago (and most peeps already know anyways) diapers are one of the major items filling up landfills. Of course I'd say there aren't nearly as many AB's, DL's, and incontinent people in comparison to the number of actual babies and youth needing night time protection.

    I'm not going to worry too much and definitely not going to stop wearing or switch to cloth diapers. I also do ton of recycling anyways so I don't feel bad at all.

    What's your opinion on the environmental aspect of diapers?

  2. #2


    i'd go cloth but i'm too lazy to wash them and such.... i'm an American so that explains most of it :P

  3. #3


    Probably would go for cloth if I wasn't contending with parents.

  4. #4


    I wouldn't be too incredibly worried about the space diapers take up in landfills, since you live in the US. We've got all of Wyoming to fill up.

    What might be more of a concern is the loss of materials used in diapers that could be used for other things - gasoline (plastic is a petroleum product, after all), wood or paper (used as a filler/absorption spreader) and whatever it is they make SAP out of.

    However, diapers seem pretty insignificant compared to other things that most people use in terms of environmental impact. Traveling probably takes a greater toll on the environment by a few orders of magnitude more than occasionally wearing diapers does.

    If you want more, there have been a few threads created with the same gist, and the easiest to find was here.

  5. #5


    Diapers are blown up to be a large contributor to landfills. However unless I am misinformed they actually do decompose in a reasonable amount of time. Also the way politics are looking right now I feel like environmental things regarding diapers aren't that high on anyones priority list.

    They make SAP out of Acrylic acid and some other things afaik.

    As a college student who doesn't have the privacy or desire to use cloth diapers I would stick with disposables.

  6. #6


    I understand though their bad for the environment and that's why I hope we see more efforts to recycle some materials used in them (like plastics). There's programs in California to try to do this, they were testing it in the UK, and Australia has a program for it, etc. Maybe too they could reuse the plastics in the diapers in new diapers, which will mean less new plastics have to be made.

    However, I prefer disposables when wearing. I haven't ever worn cloth diapers but considering to me, cloth shirts for some reason feel like sand-paper on my skin, I wouldn't want to wear it as a diaper ^^;. Plus, I like the look, feel, crinkle, etc. of the disposables which I wouldn't get with cloth. Though I would save money if I went with cloth.
    Last edited by DA360; 18-Apr-2011 at 11:00.

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by CanucksFan View Post
    Probably would go for cloth if I wasn't contending with parents.
    We both definitely have to deal with the rents the parents lol, I feel ya. I would wear diapers longer and more of the time if I didn't have to worry about them finding out - which wouldn't be so bad but it's just one more thing they'd know about me that would make me even more different than I already am.

    Yeah I'm not too worried about it just thought I'd see what others thought.

    Yeah DA360 I love disposables because of the look, feel, crinkle, and I love the smell straight out of the package.

  8. #8


    It does concern me that disposable diapers have such a damaging effect on the environment, both in their production and in their disposal. Generally I am fairly conscious about the impact I am having on the environment - I recycle what I can (which, thanks to my local council, is most things), compost and reuse as many non-recyclables as possible. I don't have a car and try to walk or catch buses/trains as much as I can rather than rely on driving. I never leave electrical items on standby, only turn the heating on when completely necessary and never tumble-dry my laundry. I avoid buying plastics and I try to buy items made of recycled materials. I'm vegetarian and buy organic and locally-produced foods where I can. I am a member of 'Friends of the Earth' and give a monthly donation towards their cause. Overall I would say that I am particularly aware of how what I am doing is impacting the environment - perhaps more so than many would deem necessary - and although most of my actions have only a minuscule impact when looking at the wider picture, I still stand by the saying that there is nothing worse than doing nothing because you could only do a little.

    And then I wear disposable diapers. It does bother me that this part of me is environmentally unfriendly, both in terms of their production and their disposal, however cloth would be impractical for me. I live with a housemate and so laundering them would be difficult to hide - washing would be fine as she never goes through my washing line, but drying them would be difficult. I leave my clothes to air-dry, either outside or when it is raining indoors, and she would certainly notice my cloth nappies and plastic pants hanging on the line. In addition to this, I like to leave my laundry to build up until I have a completely full load so I am not turning the washing-machine on unnecessarily, but with cloth nappies it would not be possible to delay washing them for too long because of the smell. Arguably, by increasing the amount I was using electricity and water through washing cloth diapers it would simply be moving my environmental impact to another area.

    And, on top of that, I will admit that I simply prefer disposable diapers. I do own a couple of all-in-one cloth diapers, but I prefer to use them as diaper covers and as added protection against leaks than I like to use them as a diaper in themselves. To me, cloth diapers just don't really feel like diapers. Additionally, I like the convenience of being able to take a diaper out of the package, put it on, use it, take it off and dispose of it. I don't know if this is truly a good excuse to ignore the option of cloth, but nevertheless as guilty as it does make me feel when I dwell on it, I cannot see myself giving up disposables any time soon.

    That said, if a biodegradable low-environmental impact disposable was made then I would almost certainly switch to it, even though it would probably be rather expensive. I hope that in my lifetime biodegradable adult diapers do become available - biodegradable baby diapers already exist, and I always buy these to use as stuffers. I also make sure I always buy biodegradable baby wipes. Both of these items are more expensive than the standard baby diapers and stuffers, but doing so does off-set some of my guilt surrounding my use of disposable diapers. It makes me feel better to know that, although I don't feel able to give up disposable diapers I am at least taking what steps I can towards lowering my environmental-impact surrounding diaper-use.

  9. #9


    It would be nice when biodegradable adult diapers come out that are just like our favorites- Bambinos, Abena, etc and all sorts of designs too.

    But biodegradability isn't the only bio issue. Wastage is another problem- I believe they use paper or it's pulp (not quite sure) I think they should start using hemp product instead & for paper & in place of cotton (much stronger). Unfortunately since hemp can't be grown in the USA, and importing hemp would be a waste of fuel the only way to allow this would be to legalize marijuana. (Oh no the countries gonna go to pot - oops no pun intentended. And kids will be smoking it - Actually legalization will allow better treatment for people instead of being treated as criminals. Anyways sorry for the rant. Me fighting for my cause(s).

  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by LittlePony View Post
    I think they should start using hemp product instead & for paper & in place of cotton (much stronger). Unfortunately since hemp can't be grown in the USA, and importing hemp would be a waste of fuel the only way to allow this would be to legalize marijuana.
    They would not have to legalize the smoking of marijuana in order to grow hemp. France is Europe's biggest producer of hemp, but has arguably the harshest EU law system in relation to smoking marijuana - the use of even minor amounts or marijuana is punishable by jail. Similarly, in much of the European Union, including the UK, smoking cannabis is against the law, however, growing hemp for commercial use is not illegal if you have a license. The same is true in Canada and Australia, and so I don't imagine that if the USA did legalise growing hemp that they would automatically have to legalise smoking marijuana.

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