Never did I imagine when I wrote that first post on environmentally friendly diapers what a hot topic this is. I thought I was writing a harmless little piece that would slip under the radar. Retrospectively it makes sense, though. What nappies to use is a decision EVERY parent faces from the start and in many cases it is a choice they continue to refresh for the first couple of years or so. This is as basic as it gets. And none of us get by in this world without knowing that diapers are one of the worst contributors to the crazy mounting mountain of landfill. So it was that I got a surprisingly big reaction (mostly on facebook or in person, though) from people who read my little article. Out in force were the cloth-diaper-activists – of course, this is their turf. A few quieter voices asked questions about the efficacy of this new hybrid contraption: half cloth, half disposable-compostable innard, what?!
So, I was super-psyched to get deeper into this experiment, a lazy-urban-hippy’s perfect diapering solution… but I have bad news. As a couple of people had warned me, these gDiapers (the ones with the fully biodegradable disposable inserts) as awesome as they sound, leak. Yep, the idea of the product is grand – just perfect. A cloth cover – as cute as can be – and an innard that is actually flushable. Heavenly, right?
Okay, I confess (for those that asked) that ‘heavenly’ might be pushing it. Like my fellow (guilt-ridden) disposable users, I was somewhat apprehensive of getting closer to poop. Closer? How close do you have to get – is it not enough wiping another person’s but every day?! And, yes, even with ‘disposable inserts’ I still had to handle poo more than I do most days, with my usual chlorine-free disposables. I couldn’t just wrap it away and put it in a bin – oh, no. I had to take it to the loo, tear it open like a fat envelope, stir the fluffy innards in the bog water and then drop the rest in the bowl and flush. Yuckie-poopy-owie-mommy!
Then again… that is not really so hard, is it? A small price worth paying for an easier conscience and a cleaner, healthier planet, right? Absolutely!! I was still completely on board when I thought that was the only, minor down-side. Then came the leaks. I had been warned they might. I kept hoping it was just a heavy pee day or something like that but no, they kept coming, not every diaper, but a higher than desirable proportion, for sure.
More leaks of course means more clothes washing, too, so that erodes some of the environmental benefits, as well as being a pain. Meanwhile, this whole experiment took so long because, well, there is a relatively high cost of admittance to the re-usable diapering world. It cost me about $60 just to try these out: that was a pack of two covers and one pack of inserts in Baby’s size. I didn’t want to shell out more before knowing if they’d work. But then with only two diaper-covers and frequent leaks, I really found I was still using a fair number of disposables in between (about 50-50 in the first couple of weeks) but I wanted to keep going to give them a fair shake.
To be honest, I think there is a design flaw – which is potentially a good thing, as that can be fixed. The inserts tend to bunch up inside the cover and I think that leaves gaps which ultimately leads to mal-absorption and leakage. I am still a great believer in the concept of gDiapers and really, really want to be a supporter… but guys, I need the product to work, too, and for us, it just hasn’t been. I do hear the cloth inserts are way more reliable, with gDiapers, but I am not sure I am ready for cloth and all the washing that comes with that (sad as this admission makes me).
There are other hybrids out there, of course, and I’ll gladly take recommendations on others I could try next. But it is also true that I have been flirting with early potty training (like the three-day/booty camp training method) so maybe moving toward diaper-free will be even more exciting.
In the meantime, I was interested to read that the good guide rates the diapers we use, Seventh Generation, more highly than gDiapers not only on its social-ethical dimension but on a life-cycle/environmental measure. Surprising, ei? They say this is because 7th Gen use less water and produce less waste at the time of manufacturing the product. Hard to tell with these life-cycle how unbiased the analysis is without seeing all the parameters and really getting into it, but still, it eased my conscience a little, for the while.