At first glance, it seems obvious that disposable diapers cause more harm. After all, don't we toss millions and billions of those bad boys into the landfill each year, knowing that the plastic is not biodegradable? And non-biodegradable items will overflow the landfills, desecrating nature, and eventually conquer us all? (Background sound effect: Mwahahahaha!)
Yep, disposable diapers are not the Earth's soft pillowly bandages. But don't despair, you millions of new moms and dads- cloth diapers may not be any better, and here's why.
Diapers made of cloth need to be washed (duh), meaning lots of water and electricity to heat the water are needed. Plus, unless you hang the diapers out on a clothesline to dry, the dryer will take additional energy to run. The cotton used to make the diapers also needed fertilizers, pesticides, water, and fossil fuels to create.
In the end, there really is no conclusive evidence to make. Various studies have been made supporting each type of diaper, and (surprise) many of them were funded by the companies that manufacture the product. I think there might be a slight edge to the cloth diapers, depending on how many times you reuse each diaper and the type of washer and dryer you own, but in the end, both types make a similar environmental impact.
So what should you do? Just be a little more aware of what your impact on the environment is, and be grateful that we have not reached the day when disposable diapers have buried our civilization.
This image is from Being Green and Seeing Red.