Thoughts on Cloth

I’m giving all readers fair warning: This post is about sanitary cloth options. Now that I have warned you, I need you to know that you are absolutely welcome to stay and continue reading, in fact, I encourage it.

When my twins were 6-months old, I announced that I would begin diapering them with cloth. My move to switch was driven by a desire to save money, and a very real disgust with the amount of garbage (comprised mostly of soggy, paper nappies) we were hauling to the bin each day. Yuck! My announcement was met with a mix of happy encouragement and wrinkled noses. I wasn’t surprised in the least. Not only had I made my decision, I had also done some research, and what I found scared the crap out of me.

“Are you sure? The twins are so little, and the extra laundry is another thing to do. It’ll just be more work.” Said my well-meaning mother. She would know. Both my elder brother and I were cloth-diapered back in the 70’s.

“Yes, Mom, I’m positive. Do you know what’s in paper diapers? It’s disgusting! There’s sodium polyacrylate and carcinogens left-over from the bleaching process in there. Most kids wear diapers 24/7 for up to 2 years! Next to their delicate, sensitive skin, they’re absorbing those toxins for as long as they wear diapers. I can’t knowingly do that to the twins. I wish I had known this with Pip! I wish I had never opted for convenience with Titi!” I was excited, incensed, determined, and feeling a little bit guilty.

“Awe, it’s ok,” said my Mom, giving me a hug, “you didn’t know all this then. You’re doing the right thing for the right reasons.”

I felt validated, and I knew my Mother was right, because I knew I was right.

Sodium Polyacrylate:
  • super-absorbent polymer that is added to paper diapers and paper feminine hygiene products;
  • designed to hold approximately 100x its weight in fluid;
  • has been found inside the urinary tract of exposed individuals;
  • linked to UTIs (urinary tract infections);
  • linked directly to causing diaper rash;
  • linked to bleeding perineum and scrotal tissues, because it leeches fluid “so well” that surrounding skin becomes dry, chapped, and often inflamed;
  • was used in tampon production until the mid-80s, when it was linked to TSS (toxic shock syndrome) [worth noting that TSS is now attributed to user error – while I admit that does occur, the rate with which women were suffering/dying from TSS, it is illogical to place blame solely on each individual], it is unclear if sodium polyacrylate has been removed completely from tampon production;
  • if ingested, as little as 5g is  sufficient to result in death to small pets and children.

Because sodium polyacrylate isn’t awful enough, there’s more!

The process for producing paper diapers and feminine hygiene products is super-destructive to the environment, wastes tonnes of water, and the bleaching process results in by-products that are known carcinogens: Dioxin and TBT (tributyl-tin). Blech! And to think, even if you don’t have little ones in diapers, but you are a woman, you have been exposing yourself to the above-mentioned nasties without even knowing it.

Now what? What are your options? There are so many choices when it comes to reusable cloth “Mama Pads,” that your head might start to spin. I’m not kidding. You can get them in all kinds of sizes, colors, fabrics, and each with a different absorbency. To be honest, my personal preferences are bamboo or cotton velour. They also do not “crinkle-crunkle” when you walk while wearing them. I’m sure there is documentation somewhere that declares Cloth Pads are Ninja-Approved.

There are also insertable options, which collect rather than absorb. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I can’t find a single thing wrong them. They take getting used to, but will educate you about what your body is actually doing each time you cycle, that you never even knew you didn’t know. These are super-nice, Mooncup, and the Diva Cup is also worth mentioning.

The best part about this, what makes the most sense, these options put your health first. They also give your wallet a break. As a woman, I’m keenly aware of the advertising campaigns directed specifically at me and all women. There isn’t a single commercial break that doesn’t have at least one ad targeted at women: feminine hygiene products; female incontinence; beauty (anti-aging, hair dye, make-up, etc.); weight loss/control/body image; depression/mood; female-related medication (Canesten, Monistat, etc.); foods (Asana, Activia, etc.). All of these ads speak directly to women, and often carry connotations of “I am a Modern Woman by using these products.” I haven’t even mentioned the baby-related products and infant formula ads. As a Lactivist, I have very strong feelings, and may share them in another post at a later date. ;0)

I’m sharing this information not to convince anyone, but because I’m honestly concerned and want to share it. I care about my health,  but I also care about the health of others. This means You!


11 thoughts on “Thoughts on Cloth

  1. saradraws says:

    While the clown and I started with cloth, we gave it up after we moved due to absence of a washing machine and I just didn’t have it in me to hand wash. I know our grandmother did it, but I know my limits. We never really went back, even though I invested in a few more as the squirt grew. Once we realized that our daycare wasn’t going to cooperate, I just gave up. I wish I hadn’t. I strongly believe in cloth diapering! Go mam go!
    ps. Diva cup 4evah!


    • Veggiewitch says:

      I hear you. Cloth diapers often get an “unsanitary” label, but they’re no more unsanitary than disposable diapers when fully-loaded. I wonder how many Daycare/Dayhome providers are aware of the tiny, little law they break every single day: “it is unlawful/illegal to dispose of human waste […] into the land-fill.” Yup, that means chucking “loaded” diapers in the trash. It’s a little-known law, and difficult to track who’s “dumping.” You’ll find the details included in the bits that describe disposal of bodily fluids and parts…

      Diva Cup FTW!


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