If you are reading this blog, I won’t state the obvious… cloth diapers are better for the environment. Yes, practicalmomma also takes note when people (non-CDing) mention the additional water, detergent, and electricity, but remains steadfast in this conviction, because today’s HE washing machines use MUCH less water, energy, and detergent. Not to mention that most cloth diaperinging mommas are washing their dipes in free and clear detergent, many of which are specifically designed for cloth diapers and designed with environmental sensitivity in mind. Cloth diapers can be used for hundreds of changes, rather than just once. Disposable diapers have a large plastic content that scientists estimate will take over 500 years to biodegrade. Oops, I did it… I stated the obvious and cited some stats you already know.
So where am I going with this? Well, while browsing for the latest and greatest finds for my stash, I started perusing the Kanga Care website– practicalmomma thinks their Rumparooz covers look pretty good, and the design of their wet bag seems well thought-out. Practicalmomma had to stop and do a head-scratch when she read this, “In 2008 Kanga Care started using a biodegradable TPU waterproof material. Biodegradable TPU is solvent-free. Biodegradable TPU is a polyester fabric that has been laminated with a thermoplastic polyurethane using a heat bonding process. This process is low in toxicity and is better for the natural environment. Both the TPU laminate and the polyester fabric the laminate is applied to are biodegradable. When composted they will biodegrade in 4-5 years” (www.kanga-care.com).
Since I’m all about practicality, I don’t own any woolies, only PUL (polyurethane laminate) dipes. Although I’m sure that wool is great, it does have special laundering needs (the husband finds even the separation of colors and hot v. cold hard to grasp), heftier price tags, and a few other barriers to practicalmomma’s lifestyle. PUL is a polyester fabric (plastic) that has been specially treated for water resistance. So my cloth dipes will take just as long to break down as conventional disposables? Practicalmomma already sort of knew this, but somehow had never stopped to think about it before.
Before I beat myself up about it too much, I stopped to think of some of the less-obvious reasons cloth might be superior. Chemical sensitivities and cost savings are already well-known benefits, but it occured to practicalmomma that the economic impact of cloth is far greater. After all, those sposies are manufactured in a plant by machines– the whole process is so streamlined that it takes very few people with little skill to produce those large quantities. This means very few jobs, and those that are created are not high-paying. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, are often sewn by hand, with many of them made right here in the USA or other countries with fair labor practices (I should note that although Kanga Care products have manufacturing outlets in China, they disclose that their labor standards are equivalent with those of their US production). Practicalmomma knows of more than a few WAHMs that are able to earn a living wage while staying home with their children, thanks to the magic of the internet (Hyena Cart and Etsy, I love you!). Suddenly practicalmomma decided that the $20+ price tag attached to some of the dipes I had been drooling over was perhaps not so impractical after all.