Shocking facts about disposable diapers

I’ve recently decided to make the change to cloth diapering Andrew. When I tell people, they automatically put it down and say they are terrible, they leak too much, they’re messy, they were used 100 years ago so why go backwards. The list goes on. I was even bribed to have disposable diapers bought for me for 6 months! I try to justify my actions by giving legitimate reasons but it doesn’t seem to change their outlook. Which is fine, I’m not upset by it nor does it make me second guess my decision. My husband and I both talked about the pro’s and con’s and we decided to give it a try (even though he isn’t really looking forward to the poo diapers). I mean, what’s the worse that can happen? We’ll try them and see how they work out. If we find out they are too much hassle, then we switch back to disposable diapers. There, that’s the worse that can happen. I’ve been told many times by my father to “cross that line.” If we go about our lives never taking chances or trying something new we’ll be miserable in the same monotonous life. I’m sorry, but that’s just not me.

Three things that made me change from disposable diapers to cloth diapers: safety for my child, money, the environment. Plus, they really are way cuter than disposable diapers.

I’ve done my research by reading reviews about different cloth diapers and spoke to a friend of mine who cloth diapers her son. I asked a million questions and it made me sway towards cloth diapering. What I’ve learned is the main reason cloth diapers leak is because they have not been washed enough. Prior to using the cloth diapers, you have to wash and dry the prefolds and inserts anywhere from 6-8 times to get to their maximum absorbency. Obviously anyone who didn’t know that, didn’t take time to research why they were leaking or thought to read the directions would automatically assume cloth diapers suck and they don’t hold anything in. Maybe they weren’t the right type of cloth diaper either- every baby is different and what may work for your friends baby may not work for yours.

I also read an eye-opening blog from Small Footprint Family about the facts of disposable diapers. Reading the article alone made me automatically want to switch. Click on the link to go to her website and read more about disposable diapers and other harmful products. Here are some shocking facts about disposable diapers that I got from her article-

  • your baby will use at least 6,500 diapers before potty training around 30 months old. If you use disposables, this costs about $75–$100 a month retail, or $3,000 per child!
  • According to a 2010 study, one-third of U.S. mothers are cutting back on basic necessities (such as food, utilities, and childcare) to buy diapers for their children.  
  • Approximately 90% of Americans use 18 billion single-use, plastic diapers a year. This generates 7.6 billion pounds of garbage each year—enough waste to fill Yankee Stadium 15 times over, or stretch to the moon and back 9 times. Every year.

  • Disposable diapers are the 3rd largest consumer item in landfills, and represent 30% of non-biodegradable waste. The only other items that outnumber the amount of disposables in landfills are newspapers and beverage and food containers.
  • in the five minutes it will take you to read this article, another 200,000 throwaway diapers will enter landfills in the U.S. where they will sit for at least 500 years before decomposing.
  • When you toss a disposable into the trash can, you are adding to the 84 million pounds of raw fecal matter going into the environment every year.
  • Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and The American Public Health Association advise parents that fecal matter and urine should NOT be disposed of in the regular trash, because it contaminates the ground water and spreads disease.
  • A disposable diaper is practically dripping in oil. Oil is the raw material for the polyethylene plastic in disposables and it takes about 1 cup of crude oil just to make the plastic for 1 disposable diaper. Taking that a bit further, assuming you use at least 6,500 diapers, this means that it takes about 1,625 quarts of oil to diaper your baby for 30 months—not including the oil involved in the diapers’ manufacture and delivery. 
  • this means that over 250,000 trees are destroyed and over 3.4 billion gallons of oil are used every single year to manufacture disposable diapers in the United States. For that amount of oil, we could have powered over 5,222,000 cars in the same time period.
  • Baby’s poorly developed outer skin layer absorbs about 50 different chemicals if you use disposable diapers, wipes and standard baby products. This can be greatly reduced by using cloth diapers and natural baby products.
  • One of the dangerous chemicals inside disposable diapers is called Sodium Polyacrylate. Even the “eco-friendly” diapers contain this chemical, too. This is the chemical added to the inner pad of a disposable that makes it super-absorbent. When injected into rats, it has caused hemorrhage, cardiovascular failure and death. Sodium Polyacrylate was banned from tampons
  • Sodium Polyacrylate was banned from tampons in 1985 because of its link to Toxic Shock Syndrome.
  • Most disposable diapers also contain Dioxin. This is the chemical by-product of the paper-bleaching process used in the manufacturing of most diapers. Dioxin is carcinogenic. In fact, the EPA lists it as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. In small quantities it causes birth defects, skin/liver disease, immune system suppression & genetic damage in lab animals. Dioxin is banned in most countries, but not the United States.
  • Many disposable diapers contain Tributyl Tin (TBT). Considered a highly toxic environmental pollutant, TBT spreads through the skin and has a hormone-like effect in the smallest concentrations. TBT harms the immune system and impairs the hormonal system, and it is speculated that it could cause sterility in boy
  • Since prolonged exposure to a hot, dirty diaper is the most common cause of diaper rash, super-absorbent diapers may actually encourage parents to leave them on longer, causing these rashes. 

 If that doesn’t make you flinch a little then I personally think something is wrong!  It blew me away when I read the numbers. Yuck.  It definitely made me feel 100% more confident about my decision to make the switch.

Did you know that on every box of disposable diapers it says you are supposed to dump the poo in the toilet and it’s not to be thrown in the trash?

Supposedly, when using cloth diapers your child will potty train quicker too. I guess because when a baby urinates in a cloth diaper they can feel the wetness as opposed to a disposable which sucks in all the wetness. The less time they have to feel pee pee the better for them. That’s also a plus!

They have tons of different options when it comes to cloth diapering! They have All-in-Ones (AIO) that work exactly like a disposable, they have the classic pre-folded cloth that fit into a cover and they have pocket diapers in which you stuff an insert inside of the diaper that is in between a soft, wicking layer. The best thing to do is to get a couple of each, try them and see what works best. We have decided to go with the pocket diapers and the pre-folds. Pre-folds are the most eco-friendly on your budget but the pocket diapers definitely have an up in the convenience factor. You can go to for a great selection of cloth diapers! The best part, they have free shipping on ANY order so you don’t have to feel guilty about shipping costs if the diaper you just purchased doesn’t work.

You can also reuse your cloth diapers for the next baby you have or you can sell them used. Nothing is better than doing good for the environment, your baby and your wallet and then recycling them on top of that!

I’m waiting for a couple more diapers to come in the mail so my stash is somewhat stocked. I think they will be coming in on Monday and that’s when I will start the pre-washing. I can’t wait to start cloth diapering Andrew and doing better for the environment! Once I use them, I will definitely be writing a follow up blog to let you know how they work!

Until next time,
Loriel – Healthy Roots, Happy Soul

2 thoughts on “Shocking facts about disposable diapers

  1. awesome bravo! my mother used clothes diapers on me 🙂 she use to tell me she wash them every night, first she toss the waste in the toilet and put them on the tub and got the rest of the waste out with the water, after that she use a bar soap for clothes and wash them by hand and after that she boil them and hang to dry. What a job! but I guess here you can do part 1, 2 and put them on the washer machine 🙂

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