Diaper Debate

There is a lot of discussion around diapers - Cloth? Plastic? How much water do you  use washing diapers? How much water is used to make Plastic Diapers?  Which has the "most/least" impact on the enviroment?  Which is the "greener" solution.  We can't tell you which is right for your family, we can share the information that we have been finding, so you will be able to make an informed discussion.

Here is my bias- diapers can be recycled, and degrade, etc. Plastic is here forever, and ever. When my children where small, we used cloth for both of them, and even took my son, when he was 6 months old, on a car camping trip.

When looking for cloth diapers, I have been learning so much about organic cotton vs the pesticides used to grow cotton... you might want to check that out!

From the EcoChoices web site:
Cotton is the most universally comfortable, breathable and softest of all the fibers, natural or manmade.

Cotton batting has been the mattress fill of choice for decades. With purity and comfort, certified organic and natural cottons take the next step forward.

Conventional (also known as traditional or commercial) grown cotton is ordinarily one of the crops most heavily sprayed with pesticides. To bring this delicate plant to harvest, it is heavily sprayed  30 to 40 times a season in extreme cases with pesticides so poisonous they gradually render fields barren. To create finished goods, fabrics are usually colored with toxic dyes and finished with formaldehyde. Worldwide, conventional cotton farming uses only about 3% of the farmland but consumes 25 percent of the chemical pesticides and fertilizers. In the United States alone, approximately 600 thousand tons of pesticides and chemical fertilizers are applied to cotton fields each season. To complicate matters, insects are quickly becoming resistant to recommended rates of pesticide application and ever increasing amounts are needed be effective. Consumers and environmental groups are becoming more alarmed and more vocal.

"When the planes still swoop down and aerial spray a field in order to kill a predator insect with pesticides, we are in the Dark Ages of commerce.   Maybe one thousandth of this aerial insecticide actually prevents the infestation.   The balance goes to the leaves, into the soil, into the water, into all forms of wildlife, into ourselves. What is good for the balance sheet is wasteful of resources and harmful to life." Paul Hawken, Ecology of Commerce.

From the EcoChoices web site:

  • Of all insecticides used globally each year, the estimated amount used on traditionalcotton: 25%. 
  • Five of the top nine pesticides used on cotton in the U.S. (cyanide, dicofol, naled, propargite, and trifluralin) are KNOWN cancer-causing chemicals. All nine are classified by the U.S. EPA as Category I and II— the most dangerous chemicals.
  • In the U.S. today, it takes approximately 8-10 years, and $100 million to develop a new pesticide for use on cotton. It takes approximately 5-6 years for weevils and other pests to develop an immunity to a new pesticide.
  • 600,408 tons of herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers, fungicides, and other chemicals were used to produce  cotton in 1992 in the 6 largest cotton producing states. (Agricultural Chemical Usage, 1992 Field Crops Summary, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service)
  • Number of pesticides presently on the market that were registered before being tested to determine if they caused cancer, birth defects or wildlife toxicity: 400.  (US EPA Pesticide Registration Progress Report, 1/93)
  • Amount of time it takes to ban a pesticide in the U.S. using present procedures: 10 years. (US EPA Pesticide Registration Progress Report, 1/93)
  • Number of active ingredients in pesticides found to cause cancer in animals or humans: 107.(After Silent Spring, NRDC, 6/93)
  • Of those active ingredients, the number still in use today: 83.(After Silent Spring, NRDC, 6/93)
  • Number of pesticides that are reproductive toxins according to the California E.P.A.: 15.  (After Silent Spring, NRDC, 6/93)
  • Most acutely toxic pesticide registered by the E.P.A.: aldicarb (frequently used on cotton). (After Silent Spring, NRDC, 6/93)
  • Number of states in which aldicarb has been detected in the groundwater: 16.  (After Silent Spring, NRDC, 6/93)
  • Percentage of all U.S. counties containing groundwater susceptible to contamination from agricultural pesticides and fertilizers: 46%. (After Silent Spring, NRDC, 6/93) 
  • The Sustainable Cotton Project estimates that the average acre of California cottongrown in 1995 received some 300 pounds of synthetic fertilizers or 1/3 pound of fertilizer to raise every pound of cotton. Synthetic fertilizers have been found to contaminate drinking wells in farm communities and pose other long-term threats to farm land.
  • One of the commonly used pesticides on cotton throughout the world, endosulfan, leached from cotton fields into a creek in Lawrence County, Alabama during heavy rains in 1995. Within days 245,000 fish were killed over 16 mile stretch. 142,000 pounds of endosulfan were used in California in 1994.
  • In California’s San Joaquin Valley, estimates are that less than 25% of a pesticide sprayed from a crop duster ever hits the crop. The remainder can drift for several miles, coming to rest on fruit and vegetable crops, and farm- workers. One year more than one hundred workers fell ill after a single incident of such drift onto an adjacent vineyard.
  • In California, it has become illegal to feed the leaves, stems, and short fibers of cotton known as ‘gin trash’ to livestock, because of the concentrated levels of pesticide residue. Instead, this gin trash is used to make furniture, mattresses, tampons, swabs, and cotton balls. The average American woman will use 11,000 tampons or sanitary pads during her lifetime.
  • The problems with clothing production don’t stop in the field. During the conversion of conventional cotton into clothing, numerous toxic chemicals are added at each stage— silicone waxes, harsh petroleum scours, softeners, heavy metals, flame and soil retardants, ammonia, and formaldehyde— to name just a few
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