2012-02-02

Live and Let Diaper

TRIGGER Warning: Babby talk, plus teh proselytizing zeal of recent convert evangelism.

Teh data is still coming in, but I think I've collected enough to be positive that cloth diapers are super awesome muchly moar so than ebil planet-killing disposables. Sorry to all youse folks who didn't go cloth, I don't mean to say that you are monsters who are destroying teh world that you are passing on to your babbies, but facts are facts.

But seriously, almost everything out there regarding cloth vs disposable that isn't produced by teh diaper-industrial complex is all fair and balanced namby-pamby, there are advantages and drawbacks to each and no one is going to make me say which is bettar. Well fuck that noise. Cloth is better. Sure each and every individual babby is an unique and will have their own particulars, but cloth's advantages of so high that it don't make no nevermind. In every case except teh extremest outliers, cloth >> disposable.

Okay, here we go with teh breakdown:

Ultra Ninja's nine and a half months old. In this time, she has gone through over 3500 diapers. Mostly because she absolutely despises being in a wet diaper. The first month we used disposables, also some disposables on extended trips like teh week at teh cottage. Let's say 3000 disposables have been displaced by our Fuzzi Bunz in the UN's first 3/4 of a year - so 4000 diapers not thrown away in the first year. These would have been mostly Size 1 through 3 (since we couldn't replace the Newborn size with cloth), which if you use teh mega huge super-jumbo packs you can probably get for about $0.20 each. That works out to eight hundred dollars.

We got out Fuzzi Bunz at under $20 a piece. You can usually swing this if you're getting all of them at teh same time. Thirty is a good basis, but we got ten more than that. That works out to eight hundred dollars.

But wait. What about teh extra laundry costs? True - we're doing a load of laundry almost every day. Well first note that these diapers don't go into the dryer as it can cause extra wear on their waterproofing. Even if you have an old top loader machine, you're looking at about a third of a kWh of electricity, 40 or so gallons of water and about $0.30 in gas to heat the water. In LEAFS SUCK we have time-of-use electricity billing, but even at peak prices this is under 4 cents in power. Our water rate is $2.50 for 1000 gallons - or 5 cents in water. Price per load of detergent is about a dime (a load of diapers only need a quarter load of detergent). Even rounding up and adding a bit extra - this is like, two hundred bucks a year. For us, water usage (and therefore natural gas for heating the water) is halved by our fancy front loader and we typically run over night at a 40% discount to electricity rates - so even less.

So roughing it out, our payback period for the cloth diapers is going to be somewhere around twelve to sixteen months. Savings from that point on are just gravy on top of knowing that we've avoided the disposal of thousands of diapers.

Anyways, those are teh numbers with a babby who hates being wet and needs to be changed a lot, but even if you're changing a lot fewer diapers than we are, you are going to do better with cloth before you get to Pull-Ups.

Speaking of gravy - we heard horror stories from moar experienced parents of teh dreaded POOP geyser. This is when you get babby shit shooting out the top of the back of the diaper. Loverly. Something we discovered is that these newfangled cloth diapers and their fancy elastics and adjustable fitting bits and pieces means no POOP geysers. Even teh runniest, gassiest, POOPiest of excretions remains contained. We have had all of one incidence of POOP leakage, and it was with a disposable. Actually it was yesterday - and that's why I'm writing this post now instead of at teh end of year 1.

And in closing - some pictures. To demonstrate that hey lack of POOP geyseriness isn't related to a bland diet.





Plus one moar just because she is so adorbs.

12 comments:

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Wouldn't it be even greener and cheaper to just put her in a seat suspended over a barrel, which you could hose out periodically?

Oh, and she is quite the looker.

Dragon-King Wangchuck said...

Funny you should mention that. TMI warning ahead.

As I mentioned, Ultra hates being wet - so we figured she'd take to early potty training well. Right now, about a quarter of teh time she goes, we don't have to clean a diaper.

For added hippie-tude, her potty is a BecoPotty. Made from bamboo and rice husks and 100% biodegradable.

It's a shame that patchouli reekage would get in teh way of her sekrit stealthy Ultra Ninja missions.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Down with the d.i.c.!

Cute babby pics, DKW.
~

TruculentandUnreliable said...

Awww, what a chubby cheeked little booboo!!!

I was talking to my hippie mama cousin a couple of years ago about this. In her research, she found out that the best choice environmentally depends on where you live. In areas like LEAFS SUCK and the Midwestern college town with a river running through it where she's from, cloth diapers are the best option because clean water is plentiful. In more arid places, disposable diapers are actually a more environmentally sound option. Makes sense.

Of course, if you were a real hippie, you'd be doing elimination communication.

Dragon-King Wangchuck said...

We heard about EC. UN's mom was in some hippie crafts workshop with a woman who was doing the EC thing in her off-grid cabin in teh woods. So yeah, there's way hippier than us.

re: arid regions - cloth probably still rules. Our front-loader consumes about 13 gallons per wash. That's not that much. We could bring that down by hand-washing them, using grey water initially and treated only for final rinsing. So even in areas where water is scarce, accommodations can be made such that water usage could be brought way way down.

Disposables? You're stuck. The best you can do is go with a "fully compostable" diaper. But even these require many years to break down. As such, they can't be composted in your home composter - nevermind teh fact that they'd be filled with human waste. I suppose if you lived right next door to teh transfer station, teh energy usage might be lower, but generally - just teh energy cost of transporting the used diapers probably outweighs the damage caused by increased water use. We're displacing 4000 disposables in UN's first year. This is literally a ton of diapers. That needs to be trucked through teh city.

I'll grant that there may be some areas where water, even grey water, is so scarce that disposables would be less harmful - but these have got to be pretty small in number. One of teh extreme outlier exceptions.

vacuumslayer said...

That's groovy for you. We're using disposables.

Dragon-King Wangchuck said...

Just to clarify - I am well aware that cloth diaperers are teh minority. Disposables are moar convenient and popular. Part of teh reason for that is because of teh whole fair and balanced cloth versus disposable talk.

And that's why this post is so jerkass.

Substance McGravitas said...

Even teh runniest, gassiest, POOPiest of excretions remains contained.

That's awesome, because you don't want those to go off in your hand just as you're throwing them at the cops.

wiley said...

So THIS is ultra ninja? Cute for sure, but more visible than I had imagined.

Back in the old days, the diapers were rectangles with an extra layer in the middle and we used those great big diaper pins, that usually had a duck head for some reason. It was always better to err on the side of sticking yourself with the pin. Sometimes, there was blood on the diapers.

These new fangled anti-poop geyser diedies sound wondermus. Do they have velcro closures or snaps or what?

Rinsing and washing the diapers out was no big deal to me. My baby brother peeing in my eye was kinda a big deal though.

I find rinsing diapers as you go and then putting them in a well sealed diaper pail beats the hell out of a garbage can filled with dirty disposable diapers.

I like that scene in "Raising Arizona" when Cage's character steals the disposable diapers.

Dragon-King Wangchuck said...

Our main diapers are Fuzzy Bunz and they have snap enclosures. We also have a handful of Bummis which are velcro because working snaps at 3 AM is not as easy as one might think.

The Fuzzi Bunz have the advantage that they dry a lot faster as the Bummis have an integral liner insert. I have not tried teh BumGenius.

We were gifted a couple packages of older Bummis. The difference netween teh current generation of cloth and teh previous (still fancy waterproofed cloth with velcro enclosures) is huge. Teh newer ones are more flexible, easier to handle and look better.

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