Did you know that a single disposable diaper can take up to 500 years to biodegrade in a landfill? Or, that 50 million disposable diapers are being thrown away every single day in the US? If you are a parent to young children, or plan to become a parent in the future, it is imperative to learn about the environmental impacts of conventional disposable diapers.
In the 1950s, 1% of parents were utilizing disposable diapers – fast forward to today, and over 90% of parents use disposable diapers. Conventional disposable diapers are made with wood pulp and synthetic materials, such as sodium polyacrylate and polypropylene. The environmental impact from the manufacturing, to the disposal of diapers is staggering. Over 92% of all disposable diapers end up in landfills. Informing ourselves on the environmental affects of disposable diapers is critical.
- A child in diapers for the first 2.5 years, will use, on average between 6,000 and 7,000 disposable diapers.
- Over 18 billion disposable diapers end up in landfills every year.
- Disposable diapers are the third largest contributors to landfills in the world.
- Disposable diapers account for over 50% of a newborn’s household waste.
- Disposable diapers are filled with chemicals including polymer that absorb liquids – these are toxic for the environment and can affect babies skin if left on too long.
- The majority disposable diapers have been bleached.
- Disposable diapers contain traces of dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process – it is a carcinogenic chemical, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals.
How can I make an impact:
Tier 1: Global Goodness
- Put poop in its place. Most disposable diaper packaging states to flush feces down the toilet, but 98% of people report just tying it up and throwing it away – this eventually ends up in landfills, contaminating the soil.
- Choose an eco-friendly disposable version. Research companies that put the planet first and have created diapers made of bamboo and other eco-friendly materials. They have lower impacts on the environment and are less harsh on your baby’s skin.
Tier 2: Planet Protector
- All of Action 1
- Skip the plastic bags in your diaper pail. Opt for a reusable cloth bag that can easily be wash and upcycled when your child is potty trained.
- Use washcloths instead of wipes.
Tier 3: Earth Angel
- All of Action 1 & 2
- Switch to cloth. Cloth diapers are making a comeback. More and more people are switching back to traditional methods with a modern twist. This not only saves large amounts of household waste, it actually saves you money. There are many companies out there that have streamlined the cleaning process of cloth diapers.
- “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead