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Weekly Tips | February 27, 2012

The Dirty Truth about Disposable Diapers

Small Bundle, Big Footprint

It’s estimated that about 90% of US households with babies use disposable diapers.[1] Unfortunately, all those little “packages” add up quickly, and not just in terms of waste in the landfill. This week’s tip takes a closer look at the incredible cost of disposable diapers on both families and the environment, and offers a few ideas for eliminating this challenging “waste” item.

The Cost of Convenience

According to The Real Diaper Association, the average family will use about 60 diapers a week (over 3,000 a year) for each baby, and since disposable diapers cost about 25 cents each, the annual cost of diapers is about $800. But that doesn’t take into account disposal costs, which are significant given that diapers can account for roughly half of the household garbage for a family with a child in diapers. [1]

The Big Picture

Disposable diapers have a high cost for the environment as well. It’s estimated that over 25 billion diapers end up in the landfill annually, where they sit for 250 to 500 years.[1] Disposable diapers also require much greater amounts of water, petroleum, and energy to produce than their durable alternatives.[1]


You can be part of the solution to the diaper dilemma by skipping disposable diapers altogether and opting for reusable ones. Reusable diapers reduce household waste, and are often less expensive once you factor in the cost of disposal. There are two companies offering local diaper delivery and pickup service in the Puget Sound Area: and For even greater savings, you can purchase or make your own cloth diapers and wash them at home.

There is a wealth of information on reusable diapers on the internet. Here a few sites to visit if you’re interested in learning more:


ReSources: Real Diaper Association - Diaper Facts | Baby Diaper Service | Sunflower Diaper | ehow: Go Green With Cloth Diapers | tlc.howstuffworks: Make Your Own Cloth Diapers and Baby Wipes


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