Does your choice between organic diapers and their old-fashioned alternatives really matter?
Hard-core environmentalists may respond to your inquiry, “How dare you even ask the question?” yet the question warrants serious consideration. Your baby will use approximately 8000 diapers before he or she masters the subtle, intricate art of toilet or potty chair. Environmental experts estimate 8000 old-fashioned disposable diapers add-up to more than two tons of waste products, few of which recycle. Given the intensity of The Great Diaper Debate, your choice of diapers clearly makes a difference somehow and somewhere. You will determine the principles by which you choose, figuring out how your choice matters as you make up your mind.
Weighing the alternatives, ask difficult questions: Of what are the diapers made? Are these materials earth-friendly; can we recycle these products, and will they biodegrade? “Plastic” alone does not disqualify a diaper from the “organic” list, because some plastics come from cellulose, a by-product of corn. But many light-weight plastics contain BHT, potentially toxic even in small concentrations. Of what are your plastic diapers made? Looking at cloth diapers, examine the fabrics. If you see an “organic blend,” label, what fibers make-up the blend? If the blend includes cotton, how and where did that cotton grow? How much water will you use when you wash your cloth diapers? How much energy will you use as you wash and dry your cloth diapers? Do you live in a place where you generally may dry your cloth diapers in sunlight and fresh air? Can you recover some of the gray water from your laundry? Can you afford organic diapers? Can you afford not to use organic diapers?
Your choice of organic diapers makes a statement about your expectations for the planet your baby will inherit. She and her generation inevitably must continue whatever you begin, rescuing Mother Earth as they come into awareness and come of age. Your choice of organic diapers, therefore, indicates you willingly give your baby a head start, reducing your own carbon footprint, contributing to recovery of precious farmland, and setting an example for proper stewardship of earth’s dwindling resources.
When you choose organic diapers, you reduce demand for cotton grown the old-fashioned way. Choosing diapers made from organically grown cotton, you reduce chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the soil and groundwater, and you support productive and prosperous family farming in the world’s emerging nations. When you choose diapers made of organically grown cotton and hemp, you are encouraging farmers to convert from cotton to hemp production, elevating hemp’s status as a profitable cash crop. Although, at first, it may seem slightly paradoxical, your contribution to hemp demand has ramifications for the world’s water supplies, labor markets, manufacturing processes, and the future of the entire garment industry.