Q: After long discussions with my husband, we decided that cleaning reusable diapers isn’t something we want to undertake. Are gDiapers a worthwhile option?
A: The closest thing I have to a child is a very coddled cat that, luckily, uses the litter box. But I do empathize with the green guilt load new parents have to deal with when deciding which way to go on the bum wrap issue.
Truthfully, cloth-pushing parents aren’t necessarily holier than thou if they’re running their washer (full of hot, bleach-heavy water) and dryer (one of the most energy-intensive appliances) day and night.
Only air-drying parents come out clean – especially if they use sustainable materials and wash them with green soaps.
Clogging landfills with plastic-laden disposable diapers can really gnaw at planet-hugging moms and dads. Even if your municipality accepts your diapers in a door-to-door composting program (like the T-dot’s green bin), it doesn’t mean you ain’t landfill-clogging.
Though the diapers’ poopy cellulose pulp goes into the composter, the plastic is shipped to Michigan’s glorious dumps, where it will take a good 500 years to break down.
And health-store-brand disposables like Seventh Generation’s might not be bleached with elemental chlorine that creates ulta-bioaccumulating dioxins at the factory level (a very good thing for fatty tissues everywhere), but otherwise they’re made with the exact same petroleum-based plastic as other diapers.
Enter gDiapers. They’re the bum- wrap for breeders who want their babes to be well-dressed and light treaders in one mini-step.
They’re basically a flushable diaper system with an adorable reusable outer pant and an inner lining made of wood pulp from farmed trees. (No old-growth trees are axed, the company tells us, but trees are chopped to make the cellulose.)
Like Seventh Generation, they’re free of nasty bleaches, perfumes and dyes.
A little controversy has bubbled to the surface in alt circles over gDiapers’ and Seventh Generation’s use of super-absorbant polymers (SAPs).
SAPs were associated with toxic shock syndrome in tampon users in the 80s, but, seriously, babies won’t suffer from toxic shock from having a little of this stuff near their bums, and there is no evidence that sodium polyacrylate (the SAP used in diapers) is dangerous to kids when absorbed through the skin.
Still, some parents will tell you it gives their babies rashes. Others say it helps keep skin dry and rash-free.
The good green news is that you can actually put pee-soaked gDiaper liners in your backyard compost bin, and they should degrade within 150 days.
Never put liners soiled with number two back there, though Toronto’s industrial composters can handle them. If you live outside city limits, you’re – I have to say it – shit out of luck.
That’s when dDiapers’ flushable feature comes into play. If you have a powerful toilet, you might be able to get by with one flush, which would put you on a par with cloth diaper users who shake their baby’s business into the loo before they wash them.
But gDiaper actually says you’re likely to have to flush twice to get them down. You’ll have to do your own calculating to compare how much water your toilet uses per flush and the amount of water your washer would need to do a load of dirty diapers.
If you’ve got an old washer and an old toilet, you might be neck-and-neck again.
Ultra-wise cloth lovers will kick your ass if they’ve got one of those cheap, portable mini washing machines that do a 5-pound diaper load using 90 per cent less water and very little power. (See Wonder Wash washing machines online for details.)
I ran the idea of flushing gDiapers by the city’s waste manager, and let me tell you, he was not pleased. He’d rather not see anything that doesn’t come out of our bodies go down there, since the city just scoops it all out and sends it to landfill.
Even the poop. No kidding.
So they’re not dirt-free, but are gDiapers a greener compromise for parents who’d rather bypass cloth and don’t want to support the corporate landfill-cloggers? No doubt about it. For Torontonians who can green-bin the liners, even better.
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