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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Why Use Cloth?

A few years ago pre-baby I was watching a special called the Human Footprint,
it detailed all the resource one American life uses. I remember at one point the narrator stood in front of a huge mound of used diapers and detailed how much one infant would use in their lifetime. I vowed to use cloth. And then the next moment the narrator stood in front of a washing machine and told you how many gallons of water you would use washing cloth. I remember throwing my hands up in the air and yelling
"What am I supposed to do let the kid just sit in their poop!" I didn't yell poop, I yelled another word, but my kid is starting to speak and I think I'm gonna need to stop the salty talk.
We use cloth diapers. I was thinking about why the other day as I was washing them (pretty gross job) and thought I would sit down and think, really, why am I doing this?
The Math for disposable diapers:
(You should know I don't do math, so this is how committed I am, I DID the math.)4-8 diapers per day (depends on your kid, I think we've all had a 4 day and an 8 day)
28-56 diapers a week; that's a pack a week = $5-$10 a week (depending on the type you buy)
1,456-2,912 diapers a year: $260-$520
If you calculate that each diaper weighs about 2lbs when done that equals:
2,912 - 5,824 lbs. of trash a year (roughly)

The Math for cloth diapers:
We use Bum Genius (purchased off www.cottonbabies.com):
$30.00 for two; we have 16: $240.00
(Econobum are ten bucks per diaper)
I have to wash them about twice a week, they make about half a load:
40 gallons of water each week
2,080 gallons per year
I only use about 1/4 cup soap per wash:
1/2 cup soap per week: We go through a 50 oz container of detergent about every three months.
4 containers of detergent per year.
At about ten dollars each: $40.00 a year.
We do about six loads of laundry a week including the diapers; which are a third of that; that's $12.00 of detergent a year
And of course there are acessories:
Poop sprayer that you attach to toilet to spray off poop into toilet, instead of putting poop in your washer; $45.00
Extra inserts: $12
Flushable liners (they catch the poop, you pull it out and throw it right into the toilet): $6 a 100ct. roll
So far we have only used 6 rolls, you don't have to use them until the baby is eating food. That works about to about half a roll a month; $3 a mos; $33 a year
Grand Total:
240 + 12 + 45 +12 +33= $342 a year
Oh, and no trash, I forgot that part. But lots of water.

Buuuuuuuuuuuut most children are in diapers for two years.
So the next year you don't buy more diapers: -240
Or more inserts:-12
Or a poop sprayer: -45
So the second year you are only buying detergent and the inserts: $45 the second year.
Then you don't have to buy them for subsequent children.

So if you are going to have three kids, that's six years of diapers:
Disposables: $1560-$3120
Cloth: $567

Then again we cheated, www.cottonbabies.com gives away diapers to overseas religious workers; we only bought two of our diapers. So over six years we will only spend:
$367

But wait! You yell, what about electricity for drying the diapers? We line dry them most of the time. That's what they recommend and it's better for them as it helps with odor and the sun will bleach them out. So I didn't factor in the electricty for drying or running the washer.
Which may be negligible, because of the amount of electricity and resources it takes to make disposable diapers, while cloth only needed manufacturing energy once.
Now of course, cloth are not simple. You have way more intimate contact with your kids poop than you probably ever wanted. And you do have to take the time to wash them. That amount of time is not very much and I don't mind it considering how much money it's saving us.
So in the end I guess it's worth it.

1 comment:

Sarah Bethuel said...

LOVE my cloth diapers. I use pre-folds and covers and added it all up once to equal about $200 that I have spent total (on diapers) and a hell of a lot that I have saved! I will need to spend another $100 in the next 6 months most likely to replace covers and get some newborn diapers since I started when my last was already 4 months old. But at the time I had two in diapers and was spending $150 a month on baby diapers, pull-ups, and night diapers. I spent two months adding in cloth, made the switch and have never regretted it a day.