Everyone talks about the financial benefit of prefold diapers, and that is certainly a big reason why people choose them over disposables. But the next huge reason why they are a better choice is how they help the environment.
All the Garbage
First of all, how big a problem are disposable diapers anyway? Well, you will throw out between 6,000 and 8,000 diapers by the time your child is potty-trained. That means a lot of waste in the local landfill.
Using prefold diapers means you are saving all of that garbage, which is made up of all different sorts of plastic fibers and the sodium polyacrylate gel. None of this stuff will degrade well in a landfill, and every diaper you throw out will hang around underground for at least 500 years.
But if you use cloth, your supply of prefold diapers will probably total no more than 30 of them. That is clearly a whole lot less material being used up. And since they are still good after your are done with them, your diaper supply can be gifted or sold to someone else. So they really never end up in the garbage even after years of use.
Not only is there a lot of garbage produced, but a lot of resources are used in the making of disposable diapers. Trees are cut down to make the paper fiber components of the diapers, and a vast amount of water is used up when disposable diapers are made.
Organic or Not?
If you’re looking to be eco-conscious, then any cloth diaper is a huge improvement over disposables. But you can make additional choices to make your diaper use even less harmful to the environment.
The most common prefold diaper material is cotton, which does tend to be a really pesticide-heavy crop when grown conventionally. To take that extra step, try to get organic cotton instead. Or get diapers made from another material altogether.
Bamboo and hemp are two diaper fabrics that are much better, environmentally speaking, and they do just as good a job as cotton would. Both of these crops can be grown without all the chemicals, and they are typically a better renewable resource than cotton. They’ll cost a little more but since you are using your prefold diapers over the course of several years, the added price is fairly minimal.
So if you are considering the benefits of prefold diapers, don’t forget these significant environmental issues when making your decision.