The Natural Resources Defense Council
FAYETTEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA (Fayette Observer) - Being an eco-friendly parent is nothing new for moms like Meg Barge. She often purees her 7-month-old daughter's food and has used cloth diapers instead of the disposable ones. She knows from firsthand experience that the green lifestyle can be an obtainable but occasionally lofty ideal.
"I think people want to be eco-friendly," she said. "They have that desire. But when it comes to baby products, consumers tend to be more price-focused. But I know there are some great baby products out there that are safe and good for children."
Green parenting is a trend that's not going away, thanks to the bevy of pro-earth baby products on the market. The earth-conscious merchandise doesn't just attract environmentalists, but the moms who simply want the best for their children, too. From natural rubber pacifiers and glass milk bottles to homemade baby food and the resurgence of cloth diapers, parents have hundreds of options to choose from.
Cloth diapers seem to be making the most significant comeback for environmental and economical reasons. And these days, cloth diapers aren't the drab white cotton variety your grandparents used with safety pins. The newest line of baby knickers features organic cotton, snap closures and, in some cases, highly absorbent inserts that can be washed, flushed down the toilet or composted.
Barge uses disposables because she was given so many of those diapers from friends and family as gifts. But she said she is partial to the environmentally friendly bumGenius cloth line that boasts adjustable-sized diapers and washable inserts.
"You can use them with one child or four more children," she replied. "So in my mind, I'm hoping to use them a bit more for the next go-round."
From an economical standpoint, parents have plenty of reasons to be drawn to the reusable diapers. The standard cloth diapers can cost about $19.99 each. The price for disposable or washable inserts, often sold separately, can vary from $12.99 to $29.99, depending on the brand. The washable diapers tend to be the least expensive to maintain rather than those with disposable inserts. Plus, the cost of the reusables are eclipsed by the frequent purchasing of disposables.
However, when it comes to whether reusables are best for the environment or not, that's a bit of a gray area.
According to the Real Diaper Association, more than 92 percent of disposable diapers end up in landfills, and they have a biodegradable lifespan of up to 500 years. Not to mention that the average baby uses an estimated 6,000 diapers from birth to the age of 2.
Cloth diapers, however, can be used repeatedly.
The Natural Resources Defense Council considers the issue a wash when it comes to disposables in a landfill versus reusables in the laundry.
"We don't recommend one over another," Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the environmental action group, told The Associated Press. He is director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's solid waste project.
"A compelling argument for getting rid of disposable diapers absolutely does not exist. It's a personal choice, but it really can't be made on environmental grounds. There are costs both ways," he said.
Environmentally-friendly or not, some parents aren't keen about washing soiled diapers in their laundry machines or purchasing the traditional diapers. Stephanie Lee, the founder of the eco-baby online boutique BeBeEcoPosh.com, is one of those moms.
Lee wasn't necessarily concerned with helping the environment until her daughter Sophia was born. Her child, now 8 months, prompted her to launch her website and to look into reusable diapers.
"Knowing how busy I am, I wasn't going to kill myself. And cloth diapers were scary," said the Arizona-based mom in a phone interview. "But I wanted to do my part and save the planet and cut down on waste."
Lee said the gDiapers - a cloth brand that has a variety of inserts that can be washed, flushed down the toilet or composted - proved to be the least daunting for her. And the fact that the diaper itself would biodegrade in two months versus the standard disposable diapers' 500 years was also a plus.
"I've been to a lot of my friends' nurseries and they reek of diapers, despite the diaper genies or whatever. So being able to flush these inserts down the toilet is wonderful," she said. "They are a bit more expensive than your regular grocery store-type diapers, but I feel like they end up being more economical, because they absorb so much more than a regular plastic diaper. It's amazing how much my daughter can fill these little puppies up, and there's no diaper rash."
Local mother Tatnaiyah Jackson didn't think reusable diapers were worth the trouble for her 2-year-old son Jaiven. She figured the cost of washing them alone would add up on the utility bill.
But Jackson admits she has a penchant for green cleaning agents because they're safer for her son.
"Every time you look at something or buy something, you have to look at how it will affect your child and your household. And those products save you the hassle of all that," Jackson said.
But staying within budget is a major factor too, she said.
"In the beginning, I had to have all the eco-friendly stuff. But after awhile, I got to the point that that stuff got too expensive," Jackson said. "I still think those products are the best. But if they make it a little more affordable, I'll buy a lot more of it."
Copyright 2014 Fayette Observer
Updated 1056 days ago Article ID# 979473
The Natural Resources Defense Council