I'm all about living sustainably, and as we welcomed our second kid into our family we were struck with the same question that most parents have asked themselves over the years. Should we be using cloth diapers? Or disposable ones?
There's good arguments for both sides. But essentially it comes down to sustainability v. convenience.
Now we're on our homestead, we try to reduce our waste as much as possible. There's no a garbage collector dropping by twice a week to get rid of our trash. We've got to bag it up and drop it off in bulk. For us, it seemed a logical choice to go with cloth. So we didn't have a massive pile of landfill diapers building up, using cloth helps keep our environmental impact down. Plus once a diaper is more than a day or two old, you're going to want them gone. Trust me.
But after doing this a few months I have to tell you. It's not for the faint of heart. Using cloth diapers, and washing them yourself requires you to be committed. It's a chore to constantly be cleaning these, one that we blissfully ignored with our first child in the city. We had a diapering service cleaning these for us, so it was simply out of sight and out of mind.
But not these days.
Your options for cloth diapers
Overall, you're going to spend far less on cloth diapers than you would if you choose disposable. It's just far more practical to buy something and use it again and again, than to dispose of it. And when your kid is going through anywhere from 4-8 diapers a day, this cost can add up quick.
Second-hand sets are a great way to get cloth diapers cheap, just make sure to give them a good wash before using them on your own kids. I've seen sets for just a couple of hundred dollars in my local classifieds, whereas you can spend anywhere from $400 to $800 bucks on these new. Even though this seems expensive, if you add up what it costs for disposable diapers, cloth is always going to be cheaper in the long run.
Why people choose disposable
Ultimately it comes down to convenience. Being able to take the mess your kid has made, roll it up and toss it straight into the trash is convenient. Satisfying. And often what you actually want to do if you're changing a particularly bad diaper.
With disposable, there's no rinsing, washing or stain removing to be done. You don't need to constantly be hanging them out to dry, folding and putting them away.
It's fine if you've got the time on your hands to do this, but it can get time consuming, especially as your kids won't start potty training until they're at least two. That's two years of washing diapers almost daily so they're dry and ready to go again.
Of course, you can always get a cleaning service for cloth diapers, but in a crisis, you can imagine that no business is going to continue operations as normal. So, you've got to make a choice. Do you wash these yourself, or do you buy disposable just in case?
What about during a SHTF scenario?
When a crisis hits, you can never really imagine just how bad it's going to be. Despite my insistence for using cloth diapers, during a disaster, it makes sense to go with disposable.
If not for the convenience, you need to think about a thousand and one different things that could go wrong. Being able to eliminate one concern, that is, how to keep your baby in a clean diaper, is one less thing you need to worry about. And if you're particularly concerned about the environment, there are now a large number of manufacturers offering compostable diapers that will rapidly break down to reduce the environmental impact.
In our stockpile, I've already come to terms with the fact that disposable diapers take up a huge amount of space. We've got a single shelf that contains about a year's worth, as my plan is to use cloth diapers if at all possible on our homestead. But there will be times where cloth is completely impractical. Like if you need to bug out or evacuate your home. That's when disposable diapers will really come in handy.
Do yourself a favor. If you've got kids, or see a chance of kids coming along, ensure you've got disposable diapers in your stockpile.
When stuffed into your bug out bag disposable diapers take up less space than their cloth counterparts, but that's not the best part. You can simply throw away a disposable diaper once its dirtied. You won't need to worry about carting around extra water and cleaning supplies, or worrying about how you're actually going to have the time to wash these.
It's just not practical to have cloth diapers in a bug-out situation.
Just make sure you do a couple of test runs first. You'll find some brands are far better than others at preventing leaks, and your baby may even have an allergic reaction to them if they've been on cloth their entire life. Oh, and don't forget to rotate your stock. Your baby will quickly outgrow the infant sizes, and remember that you'll also need the wet-wipes, creams, and all the other necessities in your bug-out kit for your kid. It's more to carry, but thinking ahead will ensure you're not weighed down with too much gear. Just make sure you get a great backpack to keep it all organized.
For me, I'm trying hard to make cloth diapers work in our daily life and I believe that in a long-term grid-down situation, we'll be fine with these. We've got running water on our homestead, and keeping these clean and washed won't be a problem. But should we ever need to evacuate and head to our bug out location, I'm only ever going to have disposable diapers in my pack.