Friday, December 14, 2012

The Cost of Hybrid Diapering

I hadn't thought much about diapers for Baby O until last night. In one of my crunchy parenting Facebook groups someone was asking for opinions on disposable diaper brands since she couldn't do cloth diapering. I read the comments with interest.

I really wanted to do cloth diapering with 2Flowers, but we don't have a washer (or dryer) and our apartment complex does not have hookups. I couldn't figure out how to manage a week's worth of soiled diapers between launderings in our small 965 sq. foot apartment. And an extra load to carry down (and up) the stairs each week just adds to the enormity of doing laundry. (Yes, I have considered that another baby will add AT LEAST one more load and I've already freaked out about it a few times.)

I just assumed that alternative (more sustainable) diapers would not be an option for Baby O, either.

But in the diapering thread I was reading, someone mentioned hybrid diapers, "like Flip diapers or gDiapers." Someone else mentioned bum genius and described them as "kinda in between cloth and disposable." I've been wondering if there was such a thing as disposable inserts that would let me be a little more sustainable, save a little money, and still not have to tackle the laundry problem (current solutions include: buying a portable washer that drains through the sink, this type of washer handles very small loads and is not in our budget; or moving). I was excited to discover that disposable inserts do indeed exist!

But, since Lost Boy and I lean toward the academic, I needed to compare the cost of using disposables to the cost of switching to a hybrid system. So I created a spreadsheet and estimated how much we've spent on diapers over 2Flower's lifetime. Compiling the data was more complicated than it might seem at first. I haven't kept receipts from every time I ever bought diapers, but I have been using Amazon.com's Subscribe & Save option to buy Huggies for the past year. So I entered all of my orders for the past year, which includes different diaper sizes, a different number of diapers per box depending on the size, and a different price per box depending on the size and number. I had to estimate our diaper expenditures for 2Flower's first year based on current prices listed online and an estimated 5-10 diaper changes per day (depending on her age).

Here is what I got:

Total number of diapers in 2 years:5624
Cost over 2 years:$1127.00
Cost per diaper:$0.14 - $0.27

So then I calculated how much it would cost to use gDiapers. That was even more complicated than calculating how much two years of Huggies cost! There is an up-front investment to buy the diaper covers, pouches, and a few cloth inserts for extra absorption, and every time your baby grows out of a size you have to invest in the next size up. Fortunately, gDiapers has only three sizes and they are adjustable as your baby grows. I skipped the newborn size and just figured on buying their small and medium sizes (which, if Baby O grows like 2Flowers, should be fine ... if he grows like some of his cousins - well ....).

The start-up cost for two sizes of gDiapers could cost about $350. But I figured that disposable inserts should be less expensive than disposable diapers and would make up for the start-up cost over the course of the two years. But it was REALLY hard to figure out how many inserts came in each case and how much each case cost. When I finally figured it out this is what I found:

Total number of diapers in 2 years:5600
Cost over 2 years:$2080.00*
Cost per diaper:$0.33 - $0.41
*inserts only, not including start-up cost


 ... wait a minute ...

 What?

Here it is again:

HuggiesgDiapers
Total number of diapers in 2 years:56245600
Cost over 2 years:$1127.00$2080.00*
Cost per diaper:$0.14 - $0.27$0.33 - $0.41
*inserts only, not including start-up cost

Two years of disposable inserts will cost almost twice as much as two years of disposable diapers?! What? Why?

I had to ask why. Lost Boy put it very simply, "Economy of scale." Disposable diapers are made in larger quantities than disposable inserts and therefore the companies that make disposable diapers can take advantage of economies of scale (making things in bulk and minimizing cost). As I thought about it, I realized that companies that make disposable inserts offer them as a convenient, but rarely used product. Most people who use the diaper companies selling disposable inserts are mainly using cloth diapers.

What this boils down to is the fact that I can't opt for the sustainable option (cloth), and I can't opt for the middle ground (disposable inserts). I'm really frustrated by this.

But don't look at my word choice of "can't" and think that I've given up. I'm still hoping for that portable washer (I saw one on Craigslist for $300). And I looked at the wholesale options for Flip diapers (another brand that sells disposable inserts). Maybe, if there was enough interest in the 'middle ground,' I could organize a diaper collective based on disposable inserts? Or sell the inserts online? But right now Cottonbabies, the company that makes Flip Diapers, bumGenious, and others is only accepting new wholesale accounts from businesses that either have a physical location or are established online retailers already selling other baby items. And I'm not. So ... maybe a window will open somewhere?

Meanwhile, we'll be adding another $1127.00+  to the landfills.

4 comments:

  1. I was really intimidated by cloth diapering at first, even with a washer, so I can understand your reluctance! But I am all about being frugal if possible, even when it is inconvenient, so we decided to give it a try. We are using a bit of a hybrid system ourselves--we use both disposables and cloth. I'm still pretty amateurish about cloth diapering, but this is what we do: We have a stash that lasts several days (by the way, several of our diapers are only $5 a piece at this website http://www.superstash.net/alva-classic-solid-colors.html if you're interested, I thought it was a super deal!)--and we keep the dirties in a garbage can with a lid until they're ready to go in the wash. We have a liner, but I might even say the liner is unnecessary. I wash the diapers by themselves, though there aren't all that many, about once or twice a week, depending. And Shep really only has bowel movements about that often these days, so it's not a ton of extra work.

    The hybrids like gDiapers and such are a nice idea, but I was rather appalled at the cost too. Also the liners are only useful if you're dealing with poop, it seems like. I don't know, maybe this is more than you'd like to know, but I thought I'd throw my experience out there.

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  2. Don't you have a diaper service there? I did a service for the first year and the g's for the second. I also bought the covers and liners on craigslist. I feel for your space, that has always been our problem. I think your own hybrid system is better than nothing. Use some disposables, some cloth, some g's. Good luck.

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  3. Don't you have a diaper service there? I did a service for the first year and the g's for the second. I also bought the covers and liners on craigslist. I feel for your space, that has always been our problem. I think your own hybrid system is better than nothing. Use some disposables, some cloth, some g's. Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Don't you have a diaper service there? I did a service for the first year and the g's for the second. I also bought the covers and liners on craigslist. I feel for your space, that has always been our problem. I think your own hybrid system is better than nothing. Use some disposables, some cloth, some g's. Good luck.

    ReplyDelete

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