Estimates from the renowned diaper brand Pampers indicate that, during the first three years of a child’s life, are used approximately 3,840 disposable diapers. The data is conservative compared to other sources, which calculate between 5,000 and 6,000 diapers per child for the same period.
According to this information, if the children born last year in Costa Rica used only disposable diapers during their first three years of life, more than 200 million diapers would be needed. On average, this would generate one ton of non-recyclable waste per child in that period.
Problems and alternatives
In the manufacture of single-use diapers, it is used cellulose extracted from trees as absorbent material. In addition, there are used components derived from petroleum, which makes the decomposition process of these diapers exceed 200 years.
As if this was not enough, many disposable diapers receive an inadequate final disposal, which adds another impact to the environment. It is common to see dirty diapers on: beaches, rivers, gutters, vacant lots and other spaces that can easily become sources of contamination and disease vectors.
It is possible to use conventional cloth diapers. This is a cheaper option that, however, requires an investment of time in washing and a significant consumption of water and other supplies such as detergents and electricity. Another negative aspect of cloth diapers is that they are not very absorbent and involve constant changes in temperature that could cause irritation to the child’s skin.
On the other hand, in the year 2000 the first ecological diaper was developed, which degrades in about five years. Currently, there are several companies that offer this type of disposable diaper. In this way they offer a less polluting alternative to common disposable diapers.
There are also reusable or ecological cloth diapers. Although they are not new to the market, they have gained popularity in recent years thanks to the environmental awareness of those who prefer them. It could be said that they are a fusion between conventional cloth diapers and single-use disposables.
On the Internet, there is information about the advantages and disadvantages of this type of product, which has its inevitable detractors and supporters. However, there is consensus that reusable diapers participate in the so-called circular economies, with the benefits that this entails.
Are you willing to change diapers?
There is no doubt that there are different factors that must be considered when asking ourselves if we are willing to change diapers. One of weight is the economic one. Although ecological diapers have a higher price than ordinary disposable ones, their cost is diluted over time and they even generate savings in the medium term. It should also be analyzed the care required by certain children suffering from allergies or irritations and the availability of the products.
Towards the end of the forties of the last century, the American Marion Donovan set out to lighten the daily burden of millions of women, who had to wash and dry their children’s diapers. She then invented the disposable diaper, without imagining, of course, that eight decades later her creation would be considered one of the most polluting items for the environment.
Today we can analyze the environmental impact of each of the alternatives offered by the market, with the broad awareness that we are responsible for both the diapers we change our children in and the world we inherit to them.