Here is an article I wrote when researching cloth diapers. All my information comes from many different locations on the internet and I completely forgot to cite my sources. If you see something on here that looks familiar to you, please leave a link so I can give proper credit. Thank you!
Disposables- the bad
There are many negatives to disposable diapers. They contain paper, plastics, chemicals, perfumes and dyes that can cause allergic reactions or increase the incidents of asthma. The dyes have been found in the central nervous system, kidneys, and livers of some babies. They are also linked with increased incidence of male sterility due to higher temperatures of the genitals. There are two main chemicals found in disposable diapers which are extremely dangerous. They are Dioxin and Sodium Polyacrylate. Dioxin, which is found in trace amounts in most brands of disposable diapers, is classified as a Class 1 Carcinogen by the World Health Organization. It is a by-product of the paper bleaching process. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says skin rashes, liver damages, weight loss and a reduction in effectiveness of the immune system can occur due to exposure from Dioxin. Sodium Polyacrylate, which was removed from tampons in 1985 because of its link to TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome), is used to make diapers more absorbent as it can hold 100 times its weight in liquid. Sources say Sodium Polyacrylate can cause bleeding in the perineal and scrotal tissues and has been found in the urinary tract in some babies.
Disposables- the good
There are some positives to disposable diapers. They are very convenient. Cleaner since you don’t have to mess with the mess, just wrap it up and toss it out (although the manufacturers state on the packaging that you are supposed to empty fecal matter into the toilet before throwing diaper in the trash). They are more absorbent resulting in fewer changes. They are much easier when traveling.
Cloth- the bad
There are a few negatives to cloth diapers. You may have to wash them yourself. This may be a problem if you do not have a washing machine available. They are not easy to travel with as you may have to store the dirty diapers away until a washing machine is available. For a day outing you will also need to store them in a bag until you return home to wash, this may or may not be a negative for some people. Lastly, you must clean out solids from the diaper before washing. Some people find the last negative way too gross and decide to go with disposables diapers (note: manufactures state on their packaging that fecal matter needs to be cleaned out before throwing it away).
Cloth- the good
There are many positives to using cloth diapers. They are chemical free, dye free, breathable, naturally comfortable and gentle on sensitive body parts. Cloth diapers are the best for healing diaper rash. Exclusively breastfed baby fecal matter is entirely water soluble, which means you don’t need to clean out anything before throwing it in the washing machine.
The environmental impact of disposable diapers is very great. Did you know that disposable diapers are the 3rd largest source of waste after newspaper and food and beverage containers? That equals 8,000-10,000 disposable diapers or approximately 1 ton of waste used per child per year. To top that, disposable diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose, if they are exposed to sun and air. What if they were all wrapped up, placed in a trash bag, placed in a land fill, and covered by dirt and other garbage? We can only imagine the great negative impact this has on our delicate environment and how disposable diapers contribute to soil, water, and air pollution. Disposable diaper manufacturers instruct parents to shake solid waste into the toilet before throwing away the diaper but most don’t. The fecal matter enters soil and ground water contaminating and spreading disease and chemicals such as dioxin. The environmental impact is not only filling up the landfills but also consuming 5-6 trees per child per year.
Disposable and cloth diapers do have a positive and negative impact on our pocket books. The initial investment for cloth diapering may seem daunting and drive a few new parents away. Depending on the cloth diapering system you choose you should expect to spend around $150 to $500, total. The good news is with cloth diapers you can literally save thousands of dollars especially if you re-use them for multiple children, saving even more. Another added plus to cloth diapering is you can re-sell them and make up to 50% back of your initial investment. With disposable diapers it may seem easy and cheap to just buy a package of diapers which will last for a few weeks but if you keep track of all that you spent you will soon find that it can be quite expensive to diaper your child throughout their diapering years. You can plan to spend $1500 or more for each child. You do the math!