Because one Family CAN Make a Difference
That tiny baby can make a huge impact on the earth. A 1991 report stated that over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for one baby each year. "Using our petrochemical resources to diaper our babies is probably using those resources in the wrong way, when you consider that we have cotton, hemp, wool, and other renewable materials that can do the job perfectly well," says Taylor.
"This year Americans will toss 27 billion disposable diapers into landfills," says Pruitt. Once sent to a landfill, those diapers will be there a long time. According to the Real Diaper Association, it's unknown how long a disposable diaper will take to decompose, but it is estimated to be between 250 to 500 years. And as mentioned earlier, disposable diapers containing fecal matter are supposed to have their contents shaken out over the toilet before they are thrown away. If this doesn't happen, fecal matter that should enter the sewage system goes into the landfills, where it could seep into the ground water.
By choosing cloth diapers, says Taylor, a family can keep from adding diapers to the landfills, while keeping their impact on the earth lower by using renewable resources.
"Culturally, we are led to believe that an individual or an individual family cannot begin to have an impact on the woes of the world—especially the environmental woes," says Pruitt. "In reality, that is exactly who will make a difference: real people, taking simple actions in their daily lives."