I’m frustrated

Reusable cloth diapers are a better choice for babies and for the environment.

Your GoodGuide to choosing diapers is inaccurate. There are both environmental and health benefits to using 100% reusable cloth diapers. The current fiasco with Pampers illustrates the problems created by exposing babies to chemicals day-in and day-out on their most sensitive areas. Studies have shown that cloth diapers have less impact on the environment, though disposable diaper corporations have interpreted the results differently (not surprising). For more information - and to see the study results in detail, check out http://whatawaste.info/but-i-heard/ Even the water use is not what you claim. The EPA study had a lot wrong with it, but if you check out the detailed analysis (see the multipliers section here: http://www.nearta.com/Papers/SW152cAn.... If you compare them straight up, disposable diapers use more water in their manufacture than reusables do in their care - not to mention the natural resources used (2/3 cup of oil PER DIAPER), when a major oil spill is on the front page of every newspaper. Lastly, municipal waste water departments have come out against flushing diapers: http://www.cityofvancouver.us/upload/.... If I can be of any further help in providing information to inform your improved recommendations, please let me know. Heather McNamara, Executive Director, Real Diaper Association, heatherm@realdiaperassociation.org
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  • Thanks for your feedback. We are aware of the current controversy about Pampers and the debate over whether current diaper life cycle assessments are sufficient to make a recommendation about disposable vs reusable diapers. In order to maintain the credibility and neutrality of our rating system, GoodGuide relies on authoritative sources whenever available – either published scientific research or findings by regulatory agencies. While such studies or reports are rarely definitive and can often be improved, we believe they represent the best available foundation for making consumer recommendations. We understand that this approach may sometimes place our recommendations at odds with those of consumer groups like the Real Diaper Association or trade associations that are working on an issue.

    In regard to the health issues you raise about disposable diapers - There is no question that parents are reporting diaper rash problems with P&G’s Pampers Dry Max and that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has recently initiated an investigation of these complaints. While the Dry Max product could be causing contact dermatitis, there is no consensus among pediatricians that this brand is dangerous, and no finding by an authoritative scientific or regulatory agency that there is a problem. In situations like this, GoodGuide tracks the controversy, but we believe it is premature to conclude on the basis of available evidence that disposable diapers pose health risks that reusable diapers do not. If Dry Max diapers are found to be causing a diaper rash outbreak, that information will be included in an update to its product rating, but it would not in itself warrant penalizing the entire category of disposable diapers.

    In regard to the relative environmental impact of disposable vs reusable diapers - We agree that laundry machines and consumer behavior have a major influence on the level of impacts associated with home laundry of reusable diapers, which is why we’ve incorporated tips on how to minimize these impacts into our slideshow. But we believe it is reasonable to use the results of life cycle assessments based on how the ‘average’ consumer launders their cloth diapers. While not perfect, the best available scientific studies indicate very similar climate change impact levels from either disposable or reusable diapers. For example, the 2005 life cycle assessment by the UK Environmental Agency estimated that the average 2006 disposable would result in a global warming impact of approximately 550kg of carbon dioxide equivalents used over the two and a half years a child is typically in diapers. For reusables, the baseline scenario based on average washer and drier use produced a global warming impact of approximately 570kg of carbon dioxide equivalents. The study also found that the impacts for reusables are highly dependent on the way they are laundered. Looking at the other major areas of environmental impact, disposables have a larger solid waste management impact, and reusables have a larger water use impact. Flushable diapers are a relatively new product type, and as you point out at least one wastewater treatment agency (City of Vancouver) has expressed concerns about the impacts that this category could have on its system. At present, our rating system defers to performance standards that have been established to address treatment system impacts, such as the ASTM standard on biodegradability, but we agree that this is an emerging area of concern. If additional municipalities or regulatory entities confirm Vancouver’s concerns, we will revisit our recommendation about flushable diapers.

    On balance, we believe that both reusable cloth (either home or commercially laundered) or disposable diapers are acceptable alternatives. We welcome being alerted about additional studies and information as it becomes available, so that we can ensure our ratings and recommendations represent the current state of knowledge on this issue.
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    • Unless you, Jo, are a working mother who uses cloth u really have no room to speak (because obviously you are just making a huge assumption). Washing diapers is exactly the same as washing clothes, do u suggest we all just wear our clothes once and then throw them away instead of washing them and reusing? That's what it sounds like. It's obvious you've never used cloth diapers- all you have to do is throw them in the wash, then in the dryer. WOW, so hard huh. I've been doing this for years. Do u buy packs of disposable dishes too instead of washing and reusing? Some people's ignorance and quick opinions on subjets foreign to them is unbelievable :/
    • bren- you've been washing cloth diapers for years? my mom did, for 5 kids- and usually the preference is to pre-rinse a bit, nor is it usually a mixed-load type deal to put right in with your regular household laundry...
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  • I’m confident
    Well said & well cited.
    Marketing & advertising has become creed in our society today. Unfortunately the ones making the big buck get paid to lie to the public to increase profits. I's a vicious cycle of greed & corruption.

    Here is a documentary every american should see.
    http://youtu.be/EewGMBOB4Gg
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  • Hi Good Guide,

    Are you saying that the amount of water and energy used, and CO2 emissions created, to wash a reusable, cloth diaper once is more than the amount of water and energy used, and CO2 emissions created, to manufacture, distribute, sell and dispose of a new, disposable diaper?

    Annie
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