For a lot of people, having an eco friendly home/life is about the same thing as driving a Prius: it says something about the type of person you are. You care about the planet, you're a good citizen of Earth. It's about leaving a better place for our kids and grandkids. It's about being better. I'm not one of those people. I don't exclusively eat organic. I don't drive a Prius. My car gets crazy good gas mileage, but that's because I like not having to sign my paycheck over to the gas station every two weeks. I miss my Jeep... But I do NOT miss filling it up. It's not because I'm worried about my carbon footprint. So why do I do these "crunchy" things?
I want to focus today on why we chose to cloth diaper our kids. It's really simple... Money. Bottom line (heh, unintentional pun...) for us is that with about a $700 investment (give or take, we bought fancy diapers, and a large stash, before I knew about cheaper options), we have enough diapers to cover ALL of our kids' bums until all of them are done potty training. When bambino number two gets here in October/November, we'll have more than one kid in diapers, so we've got a big stash on hand. It costs me (and I'm using really rough math, I have a migraine tonight...) roughly around $1.00-2.00 to wash and dry a load of diapers. Soap, water, electricity, the whole nine yards. For the sake of easy math, we'll say I have 10 diapers in a load. We use mainly pocket diapers, so "one diaper" means a cover, an insert (or prefold, or a flat) or two, and a cloth wipe or two. Generally, my loads are more like 12-18 diapers, but like I said... Easy math.
The average kiddo has an estimated 2,500 diaper changes from birth to potty training. In cloth diaper terms, using the verrrry rough numbers from the previous paragraph, that's about 250 loads of laundry. Even on the most expensive end of laundering costs, that $500 in laundering expenses. That's ridiculous, you're probably going to pay half that. I don't know anyone who does full time cloth diapering who only washes ten diapers at a time. If you have a top loading washer, you can wash more. I've fit 25 in at once, meaning you could do 100 washes and come in at $200 or less. See what I mean?
Altogether, we're looking at a high end cost (based on my stash and washing habits) of roughly $900 for the first kiddo's diapering needs. According to a quick google search, the average cost for disposable diapers from birth to potty training is around $1,600. Per kid. With cloth, the supply pays for itself, and can continue to be used for subsequent kids. With our second bambino, all that we'll have to pay for is the laundering expenses.
Do I get more out of it than saving money? Absolutely. Cloth diapering is, dare I say it, fun. I'm not crazy... Most of the cloth diapering mommas I talk to agree with me. Bright colors, pretty prints, soft fabrics... It's a fun little hobby for some! I also really love that my kiddo, who has crazy sensitive skin, gets far fewer allergic reactions when we use cloth. She had a horrendous allergy to disposable wipes that came on seemingly out of left field at 14 months of age. Since the switch to cloth wipes, no more hives. I also like the fact that we're not continuing to add to landfills every time we change her diaper. Added bonus, no more stinky diaper trash can.
All in all, I'm really glad we switched to cloth. I'm even more glad we'll be able to diaper both kids with the same diapers. Ours are adjustable, "one size" diapers. It's convenient, fun, and a comfortable choice for us. We found what works best for our family, and are happy in that decision.