Just over three years ago when my wife and I had our first child, we wanted to try reusable diapers. We used them for the duration of our son's diapering period, with the exception of the potty training period. Our main interests in these diapers were three fold, 1) reduced cost, 2) good for the environment, 3) to test our commitment to living 'sustainably.'
I worked it out using an excel spreadsheet, local water costs and gallons used per diaper. It turns out that it is less expensive to use reusable diapers, especially if you can use them for the duration of your child's diaper time. In the end a reusable diaper's cost is just pennies.
Good for the Environment
This is somewhat qualitative. While the reusable diaper doesn't get thrown into a landfill, the contents of the diaper do go down the toilet — and that contributes to the load of the wastewater treatment facility or your homes septic system. In Fredericksburg, given our abundance of water and the city's sewer system, reusable diapers are the preferred method to be eco-friendly.
Test our Commitment to Sustainability
Doing something for 2+ years is a significant commitment, but add to it a somewhat yucky task and it is even more significant. We had to counsel our child care providers to be sure the diapers were not tossed into the trash and even took the special diapers on family vacations.
As we anticipate the coming of our second child (perhaps before this article is published) we are planning to continue with reusable diapers. If we can do it, so can you!
Richard Friesner is a dad, environmental scientist, and member of the city of Fredericksburg's Planning Commission.