What To Do With Your Diapers When You No Longer Need Them
The sad day has arrived. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you’re excited that your little one is finally potty trained. But you are sad to be packing up your cloth diapers, too, aren’t you? So, what should you do with your diapers when you no longer need them?
Don’t throw them out! Did y ou know that the US EPA estimates that 13.1 million tons of textiles are thrown out each year? That means that the average American trashes almost 65 lbs of textiles every year… and you thought your little bruiser was getting heavy!
For many people, the benefit to the environment often factors into the decision to cloth diaper. Even though using cloth diapers is definitely better for the environment than disposables, these 5 ideas will help keep your old cloth diapers out of landfills too!
1. Pass Them Along
Help a friend or family member get started with cloth diapers! When I first started cloth diapering, a friend gifted me a few of her used diaper covers and a couple of prefolds. I had purchased a stash of pocket diapers and wasn’t even considering prefolds as an option. If not for my friend, I might have never discovered how simple prefolds really are. Plus, the additional covers and inserts helped me out when things got hectic and I couldn’t get my cloth diapers washed and dried as quickly as usual. Even if your friend isn’t currently using cloth diapers, a small stash for free may be all it takes to sway them to try them out. Keep in mind that your little one might also appreciate a few “real” diapers for her baby too!
2. Donate them to a Charity
National charities like The Rebecca Foundation (US) and Cloth for a Cause (Canada) are lending banks that help low income families get started with cloth diapers so they can break free of the drain that expensive disposables put on their bank account. There are chapters in almost every state and province in North America. They collect new and gently used diapers of all brands and styles, and may even take diapers that need minor repairs (repairing elastic, replacing broken snaps, or replacing Velcro). Contact them to find out if what you have is something they would like: they may salvage components of an otherwise unusable diaper (ex: fleece), and even PUL covers that are starting to delaminate (lose their waterproofing) can often be used as swim diapers. If you decide to donate your old diapers, you might even save a few dollars on your next tax return. Some chapters (like Cloth for a Cause) even have a formula that they use to assign a value to used cloth diapers (based on brand and condition) so that they can issue you a tax receipt for your donation!
There is a strong market for used cloth diapers, especially if they are a reputable brand and in decent shape. Fan favorites like Tots Bots, Applecheeks, RagaBabe, and Ella Bella Bum often sell for close to retail. If you wind up with a few “HTF” (hard-to-find) prints in your stash, they may even be worth more than you paid for them! Popular brands like bumGenius, Blueberry, and Thirsties can usually sell for half of the cost of new. If you bought Alvas or another brand of “China cheapies”, you may not be able to get much back for them, but considering they often cost less than $6 each, if you used them for more than 2 months, you still saved more than you would have spent on even the cheapest disposables. For ideas on where to sell used diapers, check out this post.
Like most other things, you can’t expect cloth diapers to last forever. Inserts, especially, degrade over time and constant use. While many diaper brands will last through more than one child, they do eventually become too worn out to be effective. If your baby’s diapers are starting to look a bit more like rags than diapers, here are a couple more ways to save them from landfill!
4. Repurpose Them
Microfiber inserts can be used as Swiffer refills, and prefolds and flats can be used as dusting cloths, paper towel alternatives, or shop rags. With the exception of hemp (which usually gets crunchy over time), most natural fibers become dreamy soft, even when completely worn out. This makes them an ideal addition to the first aid kit for compresses, too!
5. Recycle or Compost Them
Did you know that when you donate used textiles to a clothing collection bin, that even fabric in poor condition can find a new purpose? Many donation bins are managed by private companies that will sell off every pound of fabric they can. Fabric recyclers will buy worn out cotton for use in seat stuffing and home and automotive insulation. Cotton can also be combined with recycled plastic bottles to make new textiles, and fibers are even used to make bank notes! How’s that for a rags to riches story?!? Keep in mind that your local not-for-profit used clothing store may not be equipped to extract the remaining life out of worn-out items, so please ask if you are unsure. Also keep in mind that all natural fibers are also compostable. If you have a backyard compost pile, you can even try this at home. Shredding up old cotton, hemp and bamboo fabric and layering it with yard waste and food scraps will speed up its break-down. Just be sure to cut away snaps, fleece and polyester thread as these won’t break down.
So there you have it – 5 things to do with your cloth diapers when you no longer need them.
Will you be happy when your little one is done with diapers? What do you plan to do with your little one’s diapers after he or she potty trains?
About the Author
Celeste Ireland is the author of Thinking About Cloth Diapers. Every parent wants what is best for their baby, but many parents donít have time to do tons of research. Cloth diapers don’t have to be hard, but with so much information available, they can seem overwhelming! Thinking About Cloth Diapers is a website that was designed with busy parents in mind. Full of well researched articles, Thinking About Cloth Diapers has helped many new parents find the information they need to get started with cloth diapers.