Monday, February 6, 2012

The Diaper Chronicles - Part I

The question has come up several times recently and, as the birth of our twin boys approaches, so does the frequency it is asked: cloth or disposable diapers?

After talking with a few folks about this, it's clear that some parents take this question as seriously as the breast milk versus formula debate. Yankees versus Red Sox and Tar Heels versus Blue Devils have got nothing on this one.

And, like any good old-fashioned stand off, both sides have strong arguments in their favor. 

The question keeping babies up at night. And you thought it was teething.
With cloth diapers, there is the potential for big cash savings, the "Clothies" argue. There is also the matter of avoiding waste going into the landfill. As someone who  is always on the lookout for ways to alleviate the neverending guilt my lack of "eco-freindly" behavior begets, the cloth diapers have a pretty big selling point here.

On the flipside, the "Disposers" argue that their diapers are, well, disposable. No fuss, no muss, just diapers in a trash bin. Keeping contact with baby poop to a minimum is a nice feature and there is also the matter of bypassing a steady stream of baby diapers in the laundry.

To help find a resolution, one could actually go the extra mile and calculate just how much laundry you'll do to clean cloth diapers and how this will affect electric and water bills. That would be a wise, wise approach and one requiring an attention to detail that's pretty much foreign to me. (Also, the next person I hear of actually doing this will be the first.) 

The unprovable nightmare will go on.
Further, if you're going to those lengths in search of the true environmental impact you'll also have to find a suitable way to calculate the demands of: the clothing detergent, its manufacture, its packaging and the use of fresh water.

Laziness being what it is, file this right next to the "Yeti" and String theory on the list of scientific things we'll just never find concrete answers for in our lifetime. 

Right now, neither Mrs. Blackwell nor myself have made a firm choice on this yet. Again, we only know what we don't know. Ultimately, there is no getting around the fact that we'll be handling poop. Lots and lots of poop. No matter what angle I choose to think about this from, I always come back to that fact. 

So, until we make a decision on this one, we'll be holding our thoughts close to the vest so as to not alienate our friends and loved ones. Who knew poop could be complicated?

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