• Mary Carlson Pap

Diapers and Mother Earth

One of the motivators for parents to want to potty train their child is the cost (almost $4000 a year!) and use of diapers, so we wanted to share some information we found interesting, as we started exploring the real cost to the earth and potential risks to baby’s health.

According to the Clean Air Council, 49 million diapers are thrown away in the United States. Diapers account for 2% of waste that ends up in landfills, and while that doesn’t sound like it’s all that bad, diapers are one of the main contributors to landfill waste. And, no one really knows how long it takes for a diaper to breakdown. It could be up to 500 years since they are made almost plastic in them.

For the first 2-3 years of your baby’s life, they will be wearing diapers 24/7. This is an important developmental time in your baby’s life and they will be exposed to several chemicals over this span just from diapers. With the skin being the largest organ in our body and able to absorb whatever we put on it, it’s important to know what’s in our baby’s diapers, lotions, even clothing.

Some of the more toxic chemicals in diapers are polyethylene, petroleum, wood pulp, gelling materials, perfumes, polypropylene, as well as other petroleum-based ingredients. Another toxic chemical used in diapers is chlorine. Many of these ingredients are harmful to the environment, animals, and humans. Some of these chemicals not only cause rashes, but can also cause cancer.

Diaper Doom is a valuable resource of information for the environmental effects that diapers cause.

Did you know…

It takes one cup of crude oil to make the polyethylene plastic for one diaper. That adds up to 3.4 billion gallons of oil every year to supply diapers to all babies, which is enough to power 5,222,000 cars!Plastic retains body heat so when the plastic diaper is constantly rubbed against your baby’s skin it creates a rash.Most plastic is made from fossil fuels like oil and natural gas which release toxic emissions when extracted from the earth.In order to make your baby’s diapers feel soft, diaper companies use a plastic softener called phthalate. This is concerning to you as a parent because this chemical acts as an endocrine disruptor which can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects and developmental disorders in your precious baby.

The most dangerous chemical found in almost every diaper brand on the market today is dioxin: a carcinogenic chemical that is a toxic byproduct of the paper- bleaching process. In addition to cancer, dioxin has also been known to cause birth defects, skin and liver disease, and genetic damage in lab animals.

We try to protect our babies from as much as we can, but should we really have to worry about their diapers, too?

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