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When is it OK to use a Disposable (Landfill) Diaper?

Seventh Generation Chlorine-Free DiapersTwo years later than my daughter, my son has almost completed his toilet learning!  It has been different with my boy, as we have resorted to the bare bum method.  Feeling the cool breeze on his bottom seems to be the only way he can remember to hold it in until he reaches the toilet. This works while we are home, but he still had accidents in underwear and clothes.  Since we are down to one diaper a day just at night, I’ve abandoned the cloth diapers for Seventh Generation’s Chlorine-Free Diapers.

I’ve always professed that every baby should wear cloth diapers; however, with my son wearing one diaper in 24 hours, it takes a long time to make a diaper load of laundry. After a week, these cloth diapers get very rank, and I don’t really want to put them in my washing machine or waste energy and water to wash them more often.  Thus, I’ve resorted to Seventh Generation’s Chlorine-Free Diapers, as it is too late in the game (I don’t plan to have any more children) to invest in gDiapers. I do feel a slight pang of guilt using a landfill, aka disposable, diaper, but I rationalize six years of cloth diapering two kids has earned me the right to one disposable diaper a day.

I think that Seventh Generation’s Chlorine-Free Diapers are the best choice for disposables. Chlorine bleaching releases harmful dioxins into the air, and who needs a bright white diaper that will just be soiled anyways.

When chlorine and chlorine derivatives are used in industrial processes (such as bleaching paper and wood pulp), they produce substances called chlorinated hydrocarbons, which persist in the environment, accumulate in animals and people, and can be toxic to human and environmental health. The production of chlorine can also release the toxic metal mercury into the environment.

If every household in the U.S. replaced just one 40-count package of conventional diapers with these chlorine-free diapers, we could avoid 133,000 pounds of pollution from entering the environment.

Seventh Generation is a company I trust, and I think their disposable diapers are the best readily available diaper on the market. Still, after reading No Impact Man’s post on cloth diapers, I wonder if I should just hand wash my son’s one diaper a day.  What do you think? I’d be curious to know if our cloth diapering readers ever resort to disposables. When is it OK with your eco-conscious to use a disposable diaper?

Image: Seventh Generation


  1. Oh just a week of cloth diapers makes you a superhero.

    So much of our parenting is only easy in retrospect and when you know that you’re using something that will end up in a landfill and you’re still mindful of what that is. Well darlin’, that makes you my hero.

  2. I think that gDiapers might still be an option for you! You would only need one or two covers and the inserts are compostable or flushable, so nothing is going into the landfill! We found ourselves using night-time options for many years after potty learning was completed with one of our children.

    As our cloth diapering decreased, we resorted to a couple of options… always soaking the nappies in a detergent solution and then hand washing or tossing in with the sheets or towels. Since we don’t use bleach or any other cleaners that would be harmful for the nappies, this was a great solution.


  3. We use (and have been very happy with) gDiapers for our son. But when we travel or run out of gs we use 7th Generation. gDiapers have gotten so popular lately that sometimes I can’t get refills right away.

    Cloth has never been an option for us, as we live in NYC and don’t have our own washer and dryer. I suppose they’re still theoretically possible, but work/life/sleep has to get prioritized over hand washing cloth diapers.

    I wish that both 7th Generation and gDiapers were a little more accessible. We’re fortunate enough to be able to afford them, but I know a lot of people aren’t. I hate that so often the choice seems to come down to green or affordable. I’m not blaming the companies. Responsible production is expensive. Their smaller markets necessitate a higher cost. I don’t know what the answer is, but we definitely need one.

  4. jillian, we have coin laundry in our apt bldg & we cloth diaper. not saving much $ but it’s doable.

  5. Ahhhhh the virtues of cloth… seems more Eco-friendly but I read a research that says cloth is more consumptive on water and electricity (which is fueled mostly by carbon producing coal) and disposables are bad because it fills up landfills; so I guess it boils down to what works best for your family.

    I admit I went with disposable like 7th and Tender Care initially and even tried the Gdiapers, but now I am solely cloth diapering.

    I love cloth because it’s fun! I am collecting them like there’s no tomorrow. The prints that WAHMs are making and the fabric they are using are out of this world. Plus I am supporting Work at Home Mothers and workers who WAHMs hire are made in the U.S. Now there is bamboo velour which is So silky and soft that I love putting on Layla

    Jillian, we didn’t have washer and dryer in our home and we cloth diapered. It’s doable but I admit very time consuming. I would recommend you get like 36 diapers if you don’t have one in your own home. At the end though. I think you will save more money. But if Gdiaper works, then by all means!

  6. p.s. Tender Care and Tushies are also chlorine free..

    Tushies are also gel free.. 7th and Tender care both had absorbing gels which was the reason I stopped using them.

  7. Susie, 7th Gen use a polymer, not a gel, but I have worried about that too. The Tushies are so white, and the tabs are not very reusable, so that is why I prefer the 7th gens for potty training. I can’t seem to get Tushies to restick once they have been used.

  8. http://www.queenbeediapers.com/
    a diaper service in new york city – there may be more, should be, for the nyc mom above w/o her own washer/dryer.

    i had the luck to have diaper service for the first few months with my fourth and fifth child, oh what a luxury.

  9. Go with the cloth whenever you can. Saves money, waste produced, oil used, and helps get your kid out of the diapers quicker. I did a ton of research on this 5 years ago when my wife and I produced Toilet Training Begins at Birth. Looks like the general public is ripe for this “Green” toilet training method!


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