And The Debate Continues – Cloth vs. Disposable Diapers

Cloth or disposable? Which one is better? This debate has been going on since the 70s and 80s. And it continues today with each side saying the other is the superior product. But cloth diapers are making a comeback with new flushable liners.

Cloth diapers are what all mothers used until disposable diapers became mainstream. These diapers are not as convenient or easy to dispose. But, at one time, cloth was all a mother had to work with. Today, cloth diapers are not our mothers diapers. There are new, flushable liners that allow mothers to easy flush the waste down the toilet. Many now have velcro closure tabs; no more large safety pins!

Disposable diaper history starts in 1942 in Sweden with PauliStrǒm. The first disposables had an inner lining made up of many layers of tissue paper. They showed up in the marketplace during the 1960s after pulp mill replaced tissue paper. At that time they were fairly expensive. Today¬ís disposable have an even more absorbent inner layer that they are more convenient than before. Even though these diapers have only been on the market for 40 years, we are going to feel the effects for thousands of years.

And those effects is one of the biggest issues of this debate. Those who believe cloth is better because disposable diapers are not very biodegradable. With the type of materials used and the amount of processing they go through, disposables remain in landfills around 500 years. Many countries throughout the world have banned leaving untreated human waste in landfills. And so, they began incinerating the diapers, which leaves almost no residue. Still, not every country is taking these measures.

Another point of contention is cost. You have to take these questions into consideration: how many diapers am I using per month; how much am I spending on our diaper service; how much water and electricity am I using to launder the diapers? There are alot of valid points on each side for cost. To use strictly disposables, you may spend from $50 to $80 per month; to use cloth diapers and a service, you may spend the same. But to use cloth and launder them yourself, you may spend $25 to $60 per month.

It is all a matter of choice. Some parents use cloth diapers while at home and disposables when they go out. Others use strictly one or the other. Ultimately, we parents have to make choices based on what we think is the right thing to do.