A Man of the Cloth: One Dad Gives Up Disposable Diapers

What are the trade-offs when you give up disposable diapers? Are you helping the environment? How much laundry will you have? One dad conducted a hands-on experiment to find out the pros and cons.

Why Give Cloth a Try?

Dad washing and folding cloth diapers

Heather Weston

One day, after reading another grim article about climate change, I had the idea that I should at least experiment with using cloth diapers for my 1-year-old. By my estimate of six diapers a day, we had already used 2,190 diapers and I hated to think of the nonbiodegradable diapers sitting in a landfill for hundreds of years. I wasn't familiar with all the arguments of the cloth-versus-disposable debate, but stuffing the earth with Isaac's dirty diapers didn't seem like a good idea.

I went to a nearby baby boutique and asked the saleswoman for cloth diapers. She gave me a package of six white dish towels. I thanked her and again asked for cloth diapers.

"These are cloth diapers," she said.

I looked at the package. It did say "cloth diapers," but this was not what I'd had in mind. One time at the playground I had seen a baby with a cloth diaper, and it didn't look like a dish towel. It looked like really thick underwear. It looked cozy and comfortable, even if it did give the baby a J-Lo butt.

I asked the saleswoman how I was supposed to keep the cloth diapers on my son. She told me to buy safety pins, and I did.

I looked online for instructions on how to fold and pin the diapers and found The Diaper Hyena -- the self-proclaimed "definitive cloth diapering resource site." There were tons of different folds including the "Birdseye Flat Fold," the "Newspaper Fold," and the "Let's Do the Twist" fold.

The Birdseye Flat Fold looked easiest. I took out one of my six cloth diapers and practiced until my Birdseye looked just like the one on my computer screen. Then I approached Isaac with the cloth diaper and my box of pins.

I don't know what I was thinking.

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