Hi, am Alix, mom to Henry, 21 months old, and Diane, 4 months old. I wanted to write that piece of blogging to share about my cloth diapering experience, going from super skeptical about it to a total advocate of that concept.
When I had Henry, I was told a few times about it but all the readings I would make on the topic would leave me with the feeling of a complicated, expert only type of practice. All those barbarian acronyms for all the different diaper types and never a clear explanation of the benefits of each type. By then I hadn’t met Vicki and her first business, Petit Tippi.
Still, I was super concerned about buying non-toxic, eco-friendly diapers for Henry. I tried many brands, all approved by international eco-labels. Won’t name any brand but two things came out: “green” disposable diapering is terribly expensive, and the diapers themselves often lack absorbency a lot. With my firstborn growing, I would find myself changing pee explosions after two hours really often.
I made my calculations: during Henry’s first year I think I spent a minimum per month of HKD900 (~USD110) for the “green” disposable diapers, plus at least HKD150 (~USD20) for “eco wipes”. Over a year that makes a spending of HKD12600 (~USD1620), not to mention after I started buying special night disposable diapers since the normal ones wouldn’t make the job for an 11 hours sleep stretch.
The volume of diapers I was sending to the landfill every week was also becoming more and more choking for my sustainable lifestyle goals. Not that we stand for the perfect sustainable household, but we try to improve wherever we can, and that disposable diaper crazy consumption was definitely not going in the right way.
When I became pregnant with Diane, I was more into sustainable lifestyle goals. But I also didn’t want to pay double price per month for “green” disposable diapers since Henry still needed some too. I documented myself and found Vicki’s website where all that cloth diapering thing suddenly seemed easier and approachable.
I read I needed ideally around 24 cloth diapers to go fully washable. I just got 16 at first, which required me to do laundry every two days. And then I slowly bought a bit more and now, owning around 24 diapers I can also wash them 2.5 times per week. Those washable diapers will fit from birth until 15kg, which is approximately around 18 months for my big size babies. I also got 6 packs of washable cotton pads (72 total) to fully stop using disposable wipes at all. I just use those cotton wipes, water, and coconut oil at home, and occasionally disposable wipes when we go out.
Let’s compare the price for 18 months of “green” disposable diapers versus 18 months of washable diapers.
Disposable: 18 x (900 diapers + 150 wipes) = HKD18900 (~USD2430).
Washable: 24 x 260 (average price of a washable diapers) + 18 x HKD50 (compostable liners) + HKD250 (a wet bag for storage) + 6 x HKD110 (reusable wipes) = HKD7800 (~USD1004). I may have to buy a few additional inserts for when Diane becomes a more heavy wetter at night, but that won’t exceed HKD500 additional (~USD65).
HKD7800 / HKD18900 = 41%. Washable diapers are almost 60% cheaper than “green” disposable diapers in the long run. And if your kid is not as big as mine, the % might even get more interesting as they will wear the same washable diaper longer!
Not to mention that well maintained washable diapers can be passed down to another sibling, doing further economies and good for the planet.
That being said, the successful use of washable diapers also takes a bit of knowledge on absorbency, fit, and washing (the main fear for all new comers to cloth diapering). I’ll be happy to share more about it in a second post, since I am deeply convinced it’s actually easy to manage, as long as you have the proper explanations!