Mention the word ‘cloth diaper’ to a modern, harried urbanite and you are likely to be met with a look of shock and horror. When I tell my friends about cloth diapering, the response is usually, “But isn’t that SOOO messy and time consuming? All that laundering and poop scraping?” Despite a prejudice in our culture towards the quick-fix disposable, cloth diapers are really the only green choice when it comes to diapering. Not only are cloth diapers healthier, more economical and eco-friendly than their plastic cousins — but their ease of use and convenience has significantly improved over the last decade. Here are five great reasons to go cloth:

1. The Environment: According to a 2003 study published by Women’s Environmental Network, disposable diapers are the third largest consumer item in landfills and make up about 4 % of all solid waste. No one knows exactly how long it takes for the average disposable diaper to decompose, but it has been estimated at anywhere from 250 to 500 years. That means that the diapers you throw away today will still exist when your great, great, great grandchildren are born! Even after they are outgrown, cloth diapers can be used as rags, extending their usefulness for years.

2. Cost: Though cloth diapers cost more initially, they can be used on 100-150 times, on average. Cloth diapers can often be used for more than one child, too, so costs decline dramatically when younger siblings are born. The most expensive diaper services cost about $20 dollars a week, and the cost for home laundering diapers is dramatically less.

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3. Not Your Mother’s Diapers: Forget about super-bulky diapers and leaky plastic covers! Cloth diapers have come a long way since the Boomers were babies. Today’s diapers come in every color under the sun, and pins have been replaced by clips, snaps, and Velcro closures. Numerous fit and style options make cloth diapers fun and functional.

4. Potty Train Earlier: On average, cloth diapered babies potty train a year earlier than babies who wear disposables. This is probably because disposables have a tendency to feel dry even when wet, so it takes longer for the child to realize what it feels like to be wet.

5. Better for Baby’s Skin: Because they commonly feel dry even when wet, disposables aren’t changed as often as cloth diapers. This leads to diaper rash and other skin irritations. Also, cloth diapers contain plastics and other chemicals that can cause skin irritations or allergic reactions.

If you are at all intrigued by these arguments and want to learn more about how to go cloth, stay tuned for our next installation on cloth diapers next Friday: Getting Started with Cloth Diapers