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diapers and landfills

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Brazil
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Diapers

THE PROBLEMS

Environmental

Having a baby can inspire an odd mixture of exhilaration and anxiety: the joy of seeing that first smile, together with the dread of months, or years, of interrupted sleep. Parents-to-be concerned about the environment can add to their list of anxieties the considerable burden that their baby's digestive system will have on the earth: newborns need to be changed every two or three hours. Later that schedule will ease up, but you can count on changing between 5,000 and 8,000 diapers per child [Jones 2000], depending on when they are toilet-trained.

Stuffing the Landfills

Before the 1960s, disposable diapers weren't an option for parents; they hadn't yet been offered for sale. But a lot has changed in 40 years. Today, 95% of families use disposables, so most of those 5,000 to 8,000 diapers per child are one-time use, resource-intensive packages containing wood pulp, plastics, and superabsorbent gels to soak up all the moisture. They get sent to municipal landfills at the rate of 3.5 million tons per year, accounting for 1.4% of all municipal solid waste generation - and that figure does not even include the weight of the urine and feces contained in the diapers. According to the London-based Women's Environmental Network, disposable diapers alone will make up about half the garbage by volume for an average family with one baby.

As their throwaway convenience made disposable diapers more and more popular, environmentalists concerned about solid waste, along with the cloth diaper industry, tried to increase awareness about problems with disposables. By the late 1980s, persistent questions about these environmental costs had so rankled the manufacturers of disposables that Procter and Gamble, whose Pamper's product line is worth $4 billion every year, commissioned a study on the environmental impacts of diapers. The study asserted that disposable diapers are actually less resource-intensive than cloth diapers, due to the water, energy and detergent required to launder them. Disposables also require water in their manufacture, but in another analysis it was shown that cumulative water use was greater for both commercial diaper services and home-laundered cloth diapers (home-laundering used slightly less water) [LeVan 1995].

Subsequent studies by environmental groups and the cloth diaper industry showed the opposite: cloth diapers used less resources overall. There was also conflict about claims from the disposable diaper industry that their products were compostable. Environmentalists and the cloth diaper industry countered that, while such claims might be true of a diaper left out in an open field where sunlight and rain could reach it, diapers in landfills (where almost all disposables end up) aren't exposed to the elements, and therefore don't turn into soil; most areas do not have facilities for composting diapers.

The relative amounts of resources used in different diaper systems have been debated, even within the environmental movement, ever since. Because resource-consumption assessments are based on so many assumptions, it is possible that we will never know exactly how disposables stack up against cloth diapers. Some environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, say "it's a wash." But just because we don't have definitive answers doesn't mean parents should necessarily use disposables. There are several other considerations, in addition to resource-use questions, to take into account when choosing your diaper products.

Dioxin

Most disposable diapers are bleached, and as a result their manufacture contributes to the global production of dioxin, a highly toxic byproduct of pulp and paper bleaching. Dioxin, a persistent organic pollutant, accumulates in the environment and is not readily broken down. It can cause cancer as well as other health problems, and is found in meat, fish, dairy, and in human breast milk [see factsheet on dioxin at www.greenpeace.org].

Wood

250,000 trees are used every year to make the disposable diapers for American babies, filling them with fibers called cellulose. Cellulose, made from pine trees, draws the liquid into the center of the diaper and surface tension holds it there. This virgin pulp goes straight from your baby's bottom into the landfills.

Alternative disposable brands have attempted to use responsibly gathered pulp by having their products certified. However, those manufacturers have reportedly had difficulty finding wood pulp that is both certified as coming from well-managed forests by the most reliable certification program, the Forest Stewardship Council, and certified chlorine-free. As a result, they’ve had to opt for less-reliable certifications from organizations such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, an industry-sponsored program that has received criticism for its lax standards.

Potential for groundwater contamination

Although landfills are not constructed to handle raw sewage, the practice of bagging up disposable diapers without first flushing the fecal material contained in them turns landfills into default sewage treatment plants. Millions of tons of untreated sewage goes each year to the landfill from disposable diapers, an unsanitary practice that raises the potential of groundwater contamination. Modern landfills are constructed to contain leaching water, so the possibility is remote. But fecal material, if it were to escape a landfill's fortifications, through leaks or via insects and other pests, is an excellent medium for transmitting parasites, viruses and bacteria.

Cotton and Pesticides

According to the Pesticide Action Network, cotton production accounts for more than 10% of the world's pesticides, and is the most insecticide-intensive crop in the world. The use of cloth diapers made from conventionally grown cotton, then, contributes to global pesticide use in a way that use of disposable diapers does not. But the amount of material required to set up a home cloth diapering system is not large: If you use cloth diapers, you will need about three to four dozen diapers, which you can use the whole time your baby is little and then reuse for the next baby, or sell. (Diaper covers, a standard part of a cloth diapering system, may also be made from cotton, but these can be found in wool and synthetic fabrics as well.)

Personal Health

Superabsorbers

Disposable diapers have undergone rapid engineering changes since they were first invented, allowing manufacturers to reduce their bulk while increasing their absorptive capacity. The key to this streamlining has been sodium polyacrylate crystals, also called "super absorbent polymer" or "SAP." These crystals can absorb up to eight hundred times their weight in water (though the chemistry of urine reduces this considerably), turning into gel when wet. The same material used to be found in tampons, until it was linked to toxic shock syndrome. The use of superabsorbers in diapers is clearly different from their use in tampons; in diapers, they do not go inside the body. But diapers can break and open, especially when wet, and gel can end up on baby's skin and also, possibly, in baby's mouth. Because the chemical structure of SAP causes it to inevitably attract moisture, this can lead to skin irritation and gastrointestinal irritation, if ingested.

There has been considerable controversy over SAP ever since 1980, when an outbreak of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) among tampon users led scientists to believe that SAP-containing tampons were to blame. Due to consumer pressure, the material was removed from tampons, as were other synthetic materials designed to enhance absorption, and the incidence of TSS dropped as less-absorptive tampons were introduced. However, a 1987 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that SAP-contaning tampons and all-cotton tampons with equal absorbencies carried the same risks of TSS. Likewise, a study in rising TSS rates between 2000 and 2003 also suggests that it’s really tampon usage habits, and not materials, that are the culprit behind the disease.

The impressive technology of disposable diapers that allows them to hold so much liquid while keeping your baby's bottom dry may have a surprising result: later potty training. A constantly dry diaper may make it harder for your child to recognize when she pees. The cloth diaper industry claims that, as a result, you can expect your baby to toilet train a year earlier in cloth diapers compared to disposables. On the other hand, superabsorbers keep baby dry, even if you can't change her diaper for hours at a time - which may make for less diaper rash. The American Academy of Pediatrics states "diaper rash is less common with the use of disposable diapers." (It also notes "regardless of which type of diaper you use, diaper rash occurs less often and is less severe when you change diapers often.")

Asthma in lab animals

Disposable diapers can also contain a volatile mixture of plastics and fragrances, raising the possibility of respiratory irritation in babies. In one 1999 study, mice that were monitored while breathing emissions from two of three brands of disposable diapers showed reduced lung function in keeping with the symptoms of asthma. (The brands were not specified in the published study.) The mice that breathed emissions from the one brand of cloth diapers that was tested did not have these respiratory problems. The researchers also analyzed the emissions from the disposables and found "several chemicals with documented respiratory toxicity," such as ethylbenzene, styrene, and toluene. Only four un-named brands of diapers were tested, and it is unclear how they were selected. This is the only study to date that has examined respiratory effects of diaper emissions, and disposable diapers have not been linked to asthma in people, however, the researchers concluded that "diapers should be considered as one of the factors that might cause or exacerbate asthmatic conditions."

Increased scrotal temperature

Some research has examined whether disposable diapers, with their plastic covers, raise the temperature of babies' genitals. One study, published in 2000 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, tried to quantify this increased temperature by monitoring temperatures inside the diapers of 48 boys over the course of two days. The study, done in Germany, found that the scrotal temperature was higher in the boys wearing disposable diapers compared to the boys wearing cloth diapers [Partsch 2000]. However, a 2002 study published in Skin Research and Technology came to different conclusions. In a series of research trials, the researchers monitored the scrotal temperatures of boys wearing various types of disposables and those wearing 100-percent cloth diapers with vinyl, wool or other waterproof covers. The researchers found scrotal temperatures were the same, regardless of diaper type. Scrotal temperatures were only lower among boys wearing cloth diapers with no cover.

The researchers of the 2000 study speculated that such increased temperature could cause infertility in adults, but there is no hard evidence currently supporting this theory. However, a study published two years later in the same journal, found no association between the use of disposable diapers and testicular cancer in adults, though the authors of the study note that their results aren't definitive given that the use of disposables on the men in the study, born between 1946 and 1970, was not as prevalent during their childhoods as it now is.

Tributyltin

Tributyltin is a biocide used in wood treatment, marine paints, textiles, and wood pulp and paper mills. According to the EPA, it is "extremely toxic to aquatic life" and is an endocrine disruptor in marine species. In 2000, Greenpeace Germany found tributyltin in 8 brands of disposable diapers it had tested in Europe. It is unknown how these diapers came to contain the substance. According to the organization, tributyltin can harm the human immune system and disrupt hormone function, and it can be absorbed through the skin. Disposable diapers are not routinely tested for the presence of this substance, so it is unknown whether diapers continue to contain it. It is also unknown how tributyltin could affect the health of babies.

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* ~ * Charles * ~ *
 

I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

 

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Colombia
Timeline

I say we potty train them as soon as they come out of the womb. ;)

Diana


CR-1

02/05/07 - I-130 sent to NSC

05/03/07 - NOA2

05/10/07 - NVC receives petition, case # assigned

08/08/07 - Case Complete

09/27/07 - Interview, visa granted

10/02/07 - POE

11/16/07 - Received green card and Welcome to America letter in the mail

Removing Conditions

07/06/09 - I-751 sent to CSC

08/14/09 - Biometrics

09/27/09 - Approved

10/01/09 - Received 10 year green card

U.S. Citizenship

03/30/11 - N-400 sent via Priority Mail w/ delivery confirmation

05/12/11 - Biometrics

07/20/11 - Interview - passed

07/20/11 - Oath ceremony - same day as interview

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Filed: Other Country: Germany
Timeline

THAT is why we're using cloth. :thumbs::yes:


Removal of Conditions Timeline:

03/19/2008 - package sent to TSC, let's hope for the best

03/20/2008 - check cashed

03/26/2008 - case sent to Vermont Service Center

04/17/2008 - Biometrics scheduled

05/19/2008 - received I551 extension stamp via INFOPASS

02/12/2009 - APPROVED

02/21/2009 - GC received...no mistakes...valid until 2019

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Filed: Country: Philippines
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I say we potty train them as soon as they come out of the womb. ;)

Diana

:P I remember in my psych 101 class...child development....their neurological development is not formed enough for them to be potty trained until about the age of 2 1/2. It's also one of the reasons why we have no memory of our childhood before the age of about 3.

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Brazil
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Very informative. Thanks, Charles. :thumbs: I'm definitely going to look into alternatives if they are cost comparable.

the second page of that link has alternatives. i didn't post it as that woulda been a snooze article.


* ~ * Charles * ~ *
 

I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

 

USE THE REPORT BUTTON INSTEAD OF MESSAGING A MODERATOR!

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Filed: Other Country: Germany
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Did you know that you are actually supposed to clean dirty disposables of poop before throwing them away? It actually says that on the diaper box.

Adam's been having rashes after repeatedly getting antibiotics and so I decided to cloth diaper. We've been rash free for a while now and although it is more work than just tossing a sposie in the trash, it really doesn't take up too much extratime.


Removal of Conditions Timeline:

03/19/2008 - package sent to TSC, let's hope for the best

03/20/2008 - check cashed

03/26/2008 - case sent to Vermont Service Center

04/17/2008 - Biometrics scheduled

05/19/2008 - received I551 extension stamp via INFOPASS

02/12/2009 - APPROVED

02/21/2009 - GC received...no mistakes...valid until 2019

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cloth diapers are the answer.....


Peace to All creatures great and small............................................

But when we turn to the Hebrew literature, we do not find such jokes about the donkey. Rather the animal is known for its strength and its loyalty to its master (Genesis 49:14; Numbers 22:30).

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my burro, bosco ..enjoying a beer in almaty

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Filed: Lift. Cond. (apr) Country: Egypt
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The rest are just a load of #######.


Don't just open your mouth and prove yourself a fool....put it in writing.

It gets harder the more you know. Because the more you find out, the uglier everything seems.

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Colombia
Timeline

I have a friend who used cloth diapers through some company she hired. They would pick up a bag of dirty ones and drop off a bag of clean ones.

Diana


CR-1

02/05/07 - I-130 sent to NSC

05/03/07 - NOA2

05/10/07 - NVC receives petition, case # assigned

08/08/07 - Case Complete

09/27/07 - Interview, visa granted

10/02/07 - POE

11/16/07 - Received green card and Welcome to America letter in the mail

Removing Conditions

07/06/09 - I-751 sent to CSC

08/14/09 - Biometrics

09/27/09 - Approved

10/01/09 - Received 10 year green card

U.S. Citizenship

03/30/11 - N-400 sent via Priority Mail w/ delivery confirmation

05/12/11 - Biometrics

07/20/11 - Interview - passed

07/20/11 - Oath ceremony - same day as interview

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Thailand
Timeline
I say we potty train them as soon as they come out of the womb. ;)

Diana

:P I remember in my psych 101 class...child development....their neurological development is not formed enough for them to be potty trained until about the age of 2 1/2. It's also one of the reasons why we have no memory of our childhood before the age of about 3.

there are several babies that I used to take care of in Thailand around the age of 1.5-2 can tell me when they need to go.. and I'd take them to the bathroom and they would just use the little toilet in there. One time.. one of the boy told me he needed to pee (he point to his weewee) and I said no, he did not need to go coz he just went.. he just peeed right there infront of me.. he's darn smart.. his parents are doctors.


K-1 = 4 months

AOS = 5 months

I-751 = almost one year

I Love My Life With You

"A society is judged by how it treats its animals and elderly"

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Filed: Other Country: Germany
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I know a girl who can tell you that she needs to go to the potty (she's 2) but then just enjoys sitting there..no pee though.


Removal of Conditions Timeline:

03/19/2008 - package sent to TSC, let's hope for the best

03/20/2008 - check cashed

03/26/2008 - case sent to Vermont Service Center

04/17/2008 - Biometrics scheduled

05/19/2008 - received I551 extension stamp via INFOPASS

02/12/2009 - APPROVED

02/21/2009 - GC received...no mistakes...valid until 2019

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Filed: Country: Philippines
Timeline
I say we potty train them as soon as they come out of the womb. ;)

Diana

:P I remember in my psych 101 class...child development....their neurological development is not formed enough for them to be potty trained until about the age of 2 1/2. It's also one of the reasons why we have no memory of our childhood before the age of about 3.

there are several babies that I used to take care of in Thailand around the age of 1.5-2 can tell me when they need to go.. and I'd take them to the bathroom and they would just use the little toilet in there. One time.. one of the boy told me he needed to pee (he point to his weewee) and I said no, he did not need to go coz he just went.. he just peeed right there infront of me.. he's darn smart.. his parents are doctors.

:D Maybe he'll grow up to be a urologist.

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Filed: Citizen (pnd) Country: Romania
Timeline

i was potty trained when i was 7 month old

i also remember when my mom was walking in the park with me, i was like 6 m/o at the time and i remember laying down in the stroller... :)


09/13/05 : AOS papers sent to Chicago

10/05/05 : checks cashed

10/05/05 : NOA 1 in the mail yehawwww !!!!!

11/29/05 : AP approoooooved !!!!!

03/06/06 : biometrics appointment

03/07/06 : touched

01/03/07 : interview letter in the mail

02/26/07 : interview finalllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!

AAAPPPRRROOOVVVEEEDDD !!!!!!!!!!! STAMP IN THE PASSPORT !!!!

03/06/2007: RECEIVED GREENCARD !!! NO MISTAKES !!!!!

01/27/09 : I-751 package mailed to Vermont

02/05/09 : check cashed

02/09/09 : NOA received

02/21/09 : biometrics letter received

03/07/09 : biometrics appointment

03/09/09 : touched

03/10/09 : touched

06/16/09 : APROVVVVVEEEEEEEED!!!!!!!! letter from USCIS received

06/30/09 : Greencard received!!! NO MISTAKES!!!

04/12/2010 : N-400 package sent...fingers crossed for a fast approval.....

06/07/2010 : Biometrics in Orlando

08/09/2010: Citizenship interview - PASSED!!!!

08/13/2010 : OATH Ceremony - Finally a US citizen and DONE with USCIS!!!!

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