Going Green: The Cloth Diaper Conundrum

I knew cloth diapering would be my choice for Liv from the start – Kevin on the other hand, was a bit skeptical. Although we work to be extra green around the Spenla household (in what we eat, in our cleaning products and in the materials we choose for remodeling, for example) cloth diapering appears on the surface to be all sorts of messy, inconvenient and just, well, icky.

But my decision had been made early on. Back in college I had the opportunity to travel down to Managua, Nicaragua with Nica HOPE to work with kids that lived in and around the city dump. Coming face to face with landfills that stretched for acres and acres was a life changing experience, and a chance to witness the devastation that piles and piles of garbage are for us and our planet makes you rethink many of your own trash habits.

Our landfills in the States don’t look quite like the versions in third world countries, but they are multiplying at a scary rate nonetheless.

Surprisingly, diapers take up 4% of that space (it’s estimated that the average little baby bum uses roughly 4-6,000 diapers in their first two & half years, that’s somewhere around 40 billion in the US alone) and since it takes between 250-500 years for a diaper to decompose, we’re talking mounds and mounds of plastic & rotting waste for our kids, our kid’s kids, our kid’s kid’s kids and so on. Here’s another crazy fact – the weight of just one year of disposable diapers used in the US is 7.2 billion pounds, and laid end to end these diapers would circle the earth 90 times.

Then there’s the whole health side of the issue and the fact that diapers contain a high amount of chemicals… and the economical point of view that cloth diapering is quite friendly on the wallet (diapering a child in disposables runs between $1500-$3000, depending on the brands you choose and how many your little one needs).

But at the end of the day it all boils down to which one’s cuter, just kidding ;):

Cloth Diaper Disposable Diaper Comparison Cuter

All of that being said, I know the choice isn’t for everyone and there’s zero judgment on my part for mommies that prefer the flexibility and convenience of disposables (we agree – they are easier! and we’ll likely use them for travel and what not in the future). It’s a personal choice and every parent has the right to make it for their own family.

Right now we are slowly weaning ourselves off of newborn disposables. Liv was so teeny as a newborn that she really didn’t fit well into the small cloth diapers until now (although for babe #2 I’ll probably start using them sooner).

And so for the next week I’ll be checking out three versions that I’ve read rave reviews about: G Diapers, BumGenius and Thirsties – and I’ll be sharing all of the fun details here (sorry in advance to everyone out there that could care very little about what goes on Liv’s bottom – I promise there are many great remodeling and design posts to come as well!).

Clockwise from top: Thirsties, BumGenius, G Diapers

I chose these three options because they are three very different versions of cloth diapers (the concept in general has moved leaps and bounds in a more mom-friendly direction from years ago!).

G Diapers: hybrid diapers made of a soft cloth that you can fill with either a disposable, compostable insert or a cloth reusable insert.

BumGenius: a cloth diaper with no insert – or an All-In-One as the pro CD moms say (you wash the entire diaper when it gets dirty).

Thirsties: A cover that goes over a traditional three-part cloth diaper (you know, the type that used to be clipped with an extra large safety pin, the type of cloth diaper commonly used as a burp cloth today?).

Let the Baby Green project begin!

If you have any CD tips and tricks, feel free to share!

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  1. Morgan says

    My pleasure! I’m in the middle of my little experiment and should be wrapping up soon :).


  2. Julie says

    Oh thank you for doing this experiment!! My friend just sent me this link…I am due in June and have already bought a good little stash of gDiapers so I hope they are working out for you! I’ll be sad if they get a bad review. : ))

  3. Janelle says

    Wow, who knew there were so many options out there now?? This is great information, Morgan…thanks for posting!

  4. says

    I can’t wait to hear your reviews! I want to cloth diaper so badly (my husband is also skeptical, as is my mom…ha!) but we rent an apartment right now with shared coin laundry so it really isn’t an option at the moment. I definitely plan to switch over once we buy a house so I need to hear everyone’s opinion now!

  5. says

    Hey Morgan! I’m so excited that you’re using cloth – I’ve been searching for someone around here that is doing it too! I did the Flip system with Cecilia but not for long as Mike and I weren’t as confident… but I’m learning more and more and can’t wait to do it with Baby Siena (we’re due in June). Please keep us updated with how it’s all working out for you – and are you using fitteds or prefolds underneath the Thirsties covers?

    Good luck!

    PS take lots of pics of her in the dipes because I can’t get over cute cloth bums!

  6. says

    Cloth diapers are great. Just keep a couple of packs of disposables in the car trunk. Because things just happen, you know?

  7. says

    We are doing cloth diapers too!! Cant wait to read your reviews of them. We are due in June and just purchased some bum genius and fuzzi bums!!

    • Morgan says

      Hi Kerry,
      I’ve heard great things about fuzzibuns – I think I might try those too!


  8. marissa says

    I’m really excited to read about your experience! We are expecting and planning to cloth diaper as well, but are still narrowing down which system we want to use. :) Should be fun to hear what you think about these particular ones.

  9. Stephanie H. says

    Well they’re definitely cuter than disposables! I heard some of them come with a pickup service for soiled diapers and doorstep delivery for new ones. Do these include that? I’m interested to hear what you think of them!

  10. says

    Yeah for CD! I CD both my girls. Do you have a service? That helps. The covers look like they have come a long way too. The velcro versions were the best. Also do you have snappies? They help pull the CD together w/o needing pins?


  11. says

    We used the g-diapers part time with our first. I absolutely loved them. With baby #2 on the way we’re looking into cloth options again. It will be much easier now that I am home full time. Looking forward to seeing what you think.

  12. says

    I love BumGenius! I think you’ll really like them, too. And your husband will get on the bandwagon soon. You have to deal with dirty diapers anyway, it’s not much of a stretch to just throw them in the wash instead of the trash. :) Have fun!

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