I saw a feature on the Diaper free baby movement on the Today Show this morning. These parents believe that babies are able to communicate their need to go to the bathroom and they can go diaper-less. Apparently this is a common practice in rural Asia, Africa and some Latin American countries, mainly because people cannot afford disposable diapers. Aside from forging a stronger bond between parent and child, there is the added benefit of eliminating diapers from landfills. Aboutmyplanet states that:
Roughly two billion tons of untreated diaper waste end up in landfills every year, ending up ultimately in groundwater and nearby ecosystems.
American babies alone require about 80,000 pounds of plastics annually, and over 200,000 trees, for their disposable diapers. Disposables even those which claim to be biodegradable can take decades and even centuries to break down; and some of the plastics in disposable diapers will never fully decompose.
Going diaper-less is clearly not for everyone as it entails a lot of time, patience and commitment. Critics say children younger than 12 months have no control over their bowel and bladder. Earth-friendly alternatives would be cloth or biodegradable, chlorine-free disposable diapers. The debate will continue.