Family life

Celebrate Earth Day with cloth diapers

Cloth diapering and being a modern, earth loving mama can be one in the same – but our Run-at-home mom blogger didn’t always think so

By Jennifer Pinarski
Celebrate Earth Day with cloth diapers

Gillian cute in bumGenis cloth diapers.

Hi, I’m Jennifer and I’m a cloth diaperer. I also shave my armpits and love lipstick. Cloth diapering and being a modern, earth loving  mama can be one in the same – but I didn’t always think so. I thought cloth diapers were stinky, messy, old fashioned and ugly. I was wrong.

It’s been one year since I started cloth diapering – Gilly is in cloth 100% of the time and Newt is in cloth at bedtime. If you’re thinking of making the switch to cloth, here’s my no-holds barred story. And if you’re already a cloth convert, please share your stories! Especially wash routines – I lov?e laundry tips.
The switch
I was inspired to make the switch after watching an episode of Popular Mechanics for Kids where they found a 25 year old diaper in a landfill. The diaper was still intact. We were still living in Winnipeg at the time and our only hill in the city – Garbage Hill – was an old landfill. I trained there with my triathlon team and I couldn’t get it out of my head that I was doing hill repeats on a heap of diapers. The prospect of saving money in the long run was the second reason.
The cost of cloth
I use bumGenius 3.0. These are one of the higher priced cloth diapers, but worth it in my opinion. They are easy to use (even my husband figured it out). It cost $300 to buy my 20 diapers. Within 4 months I had recovered my costs (based on the cost of the disposable brand I was using).  Over the winter the cost of hot water washing and drying was VERY expensive. I switched to cold water washing  and line drying without much of a difference in how clean my diapers got – and saved about $200 a month in electricity costs. We’ve saved $942.76 on disposable diapers based on 7 diapers a day for a year.
The stink
I won’t lie, sometimes cloth stinks. But we were also the kind of parents that would jam as many disposables into the diaper genie – and that was just as gross. I need to wash every 2 days because my kids pee a lot and if left longer than 2 days the diaper pail smells like an unattended chicken coop. And when Mr. P is on diaper duty he will not spray out a poopy diaper and sometime they get hidden under the bed, and that really stinks too. But after potty training a very stubborn 3 year old boy, it takes a lot to sick me out. Stinky pee diapers and the occasional forgotten poop really aren’t that bad.
The wash
When we first moved to the farm I had a very hard time figuring out a washing routine,  which is key to being successful with cloth diapers. We have very hard water with a high iron content (the first load of diapers I did on the farm made my pristine white and pink diapers turn bright orange – I cried). Our water source is a spring fed pond, which sounds romantic, but it means our water changes all of the time. I use Norwex UltraPower on my diapers and bleach every second wash. Though I am not a fan of bleach, the 1/4 cup I use keeps the stink out. I’ve also become friends with the momprenuer of Changing Ways, the local diaper service, whose services also include taking my stinky diapers and doing a full professional clean on them. Between regular washes and the service, my bumGenius will last as long as my children need them.
The impact
Based on 7 diapers a day (6 on Gilly, 1 on Newt) 7 days a week for 52 weeks, my family has kept 2,548 diapers out of the landfill. We’ve made our children healthier and the planet cleaner.
Can you Change 3 Things?
If you’re not sure you want to go all in with cloth (overwhelmed by the laundry or the cost – both of which can be daunting), several cloth diaper brands have teamed up for the Change 3 Things challenge. Swap out 3 disposables for 3 cloth a day for a year. The Challenge is also on Facebookand each day they post the number of diapers that have been diverted from landfills.
The Great Cloth Diaper Change
Already in cloth? Come out to the Great Cloth Diaper Change on April 23 at 9am! We’re going to set a world record for how many cloth diapers  can be changed at one time. There are over 400 locations worldwide with an estimated 10,000 babies being changed! Even if you’re only curious about cloth, there will be lots of cloth diapering families to talk to and get advice from.
Want to learn more about how to go green? Check out Today’s Parent’s Green Living Guide! For more on cloth diapering, check out Today’s Parent’s Ultimate Guide to Diapers.
This article was originally published on Apr 23, 2011

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