I started BugaluBaby to offer fun and affordable alternatives to our disposable lifestyle. So much of our "disposable" income literally goes into the garbage can. While our bank accounts get smaller, our landfills grow mountainous. But there are alternatives! This is the age of "what was old is new again". Old, ineffective reusable products were replaced by more reliable and disposable, but environmentally harmful items. New ingenuity has modernized reusable items such as cloth diapers and menstrual pads.
First up, the sanitary napkin system of our fore-mothers that was seemingly inspired by the chastity belt. This appears to have all of the comforts and charm of a medieval torture device.
The solution: light-weight, disposable menstrual pads and tampons. Unfortunately, these are made of plastic and are loaded with harmful chemicals.
The average female will go through over 11,000 disposable menstrual items in her lifetime. That equals roughly 20 billion sanitary items filling landfills each year. Wrapped in plastic, these items can take centuries to biodegrade. On average, a woman spends anywhere from $130 - $300 a year on disposable pads and tampons. That comes out to $4,290 - $9,900 spent over a 33-year span.
Now welcome today's cloth menstrual pads. This is truly the best of both worlds. It is a return to a cloth product that is washable while adopting the simple sleek design of the wing attachment. Instead of attaching the pad and wings with adhesive, you simply snap the wings around the underwear making them easily adjustable.
This example has a fun, colorful outer layer that is both waterproof and breathable. The inner material is made of bamboo charcoal, a super soft, ultra-absorbent material that also neutralizes odors. This inner material wicks moisture away from the skin, while the outer layer prevents any moisture from staining your clothes. It accomplishes all of this without the chemical-filled plastic of disposables that irritate your skin. Since these materials are breathable, there is less risk that our not so friendly neighborhood yeast infection pays us a visit. And the best part? Instead of chucking each pad in the garbage can, you can wash these so they are ready for next month. No more desperate runs to the store because Aunt Flo came to visit while your cupboard was bare.
Next up, the early cloth diaper and those dreaded diaper pins. The ones that always managed to pop open and stab our little bundle of joy. Made of 100% cotton, these babies soaked up the urine - what little didn't escape out of the baggy leg holes - and held it right next to your baby's sensitive skin. Hello rashes! And when your baby sat down, it squished out all over the floor.
This led to the oh-so-attractive plastic puff pants. The theory behind this was that if these were worn over the diaper, it would trap the urine inside. The reality was that the thin elastic around the legs and waistband were no match for a moderate wetter. So, like a Family Circle comic strip, we could follow PJ's route by the stream of pee left behind.
No wonder we all pay hand over fist for disposable diapers! These chemical-ridden wonders are the answer to every parent's prayer; no more Saggy Bottom Boys! Parents began buying disposable diapers by the tons. But where do all of those diapers go?
Roughly 27.4 billion disposable diapers end up in landfills each year. This comes out to 7.6 billion tons of annual waste. Disposable diapers are the 3rd most abundant consumer item in landfills and represent 30% of non-biodegradable waste. When you consider that this is just one of the many things that we throw away every day, it's staggering. I think we’ve found the source of the methane gas affecting our atmosphere - and it isn't cow farts.
When you break down 27.4 billion diapers a year at the average of $.20 a diaper that is roughly $5.48 billion a year we are throwing in the garbage. The average family spends $900 a year just on disposable diapers. It's no wonder the average expense for a child is $12,000 in their first year.
Now meet today's alternative, the modern cloth diaper.
These fun colorful cloth diapers are comprised of a waterproof yet breathable outer layer and a super soft suede inner layer. The inner layer is soft against your baby's skin, while wicking moisture away, leaving them dry. There is a pocket for an absorbent diaper insert; there are lots of alternatives, from the super-economy microfiber insert to the pricier super-absorbent bamboo or hemp. This keeps your baby's skin healthier so reducing the risk of diaper rashes and allergic reactions. This also eliminates your baby's exposure to possibly harmful chemicals found in disposable diapers.
Many of these diapers have a variety of adjustable snap closures that allow them to grow with your child. No more buying multiple sizes that they’ll eventually outgrow. When they switch to trainers, these diapers are ready for baby #2. One baby shower diaper cake covers this baby and the next. And just like the reusable menstrual pads, these go in the wash instead of the garbage can.
Flushable bamboo liners are a healthy, environmentally-friendly way to deal with the dreaded poopy diaper. The super-soft bamboo liner goes between your baby's bottom and the diaper. They allow fluid to pass through while keeping the solids on the liner. All you have to do is flush the liner down the toilet and wash the wet diaper as usual.
I know many parents have concerns about using cloth diapers: "They're gross and messy!"; "I have to do laundry every day"; "They’re stinky" "They're more expensive". There are a lot of myths about cloth diapering. Thankfully, there are just as many resources available to help you weigh the pros and cons to help you choose which type(s) are best for you. And cloth diapering is not an all or nothing gig. Many families find that mixing disposable and cloth diapers work best for them. There are many resources on how to wash and care for cloth diapers, with tons of tips and tricks, so you don’t have to start from scratch.
A blog I really like is “Tales of a Messy Mom” by Nicolle. "Cloth Diapering 101: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started with Cloth Diapers" is a great place to start. https://talesofamessymom.com/how-to-cloth-diaper/ "9 Cloth Diaper Hacks You’ll Wish You’d Known Sooner" is another helpful resource for cloth diapering. https://talesofamessymom.com/cloth-diaper-hacks/
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Please feel free to contact me with questions, ideas, feedback, and I do take requests...lol