Update: As of February 9, 2010, we’re still happily using gDiapers. Since she started on solid food, they’ve become much easier to use (poop that stays in one place is good!). We still flush the poopy diapers, although we trash the wet ones; we can’t compost yet in our building. We use one Huggies Overnight at nighttime, and gDiapers all day–even while traveling. Love them still!
“Disposable or cloth?” is the “Paper or plastic?” equivalent in the world of the Baby Industrial Complex, and RocketMan and I agreed cloth diapers would likely not fit into our lifestyles in a comfortable way. We’d try to find a slightly less evil brand of diaper, like Seventh Generation (chlorine-free) or Nature Babycare (chlorine-free, packaged in recycled material, some compostable and all-natural materials). (We started off on a good foot: Dottie, crafty mom extraordinaire and writer of GoodCrafternoon.com, had the good manners to give birth back in February, and sent all of her unused newborn-sized diapers our way, so we were already well-stocked with hand-me-downs by the time I headed to the hospital.)
It turns out, though, that there’s a third option: gDiapers, the first flushable diaper. Their copywriters will say it better than I, so here’s an excerpt from their easily navigated, informative website: While nothing truly biodegrades in a landfill, gDiapers plastic-free refills give you several disposal options that no other diaper offers. You can flush, compost, or toss them. Flush and you’re putting poop where it belongs. Throw the wet ones in your garden compost and in 50 – 150 days you’ve turned a wet diaper into a soil amendment.
Flush it, toss it or compost it; brilliant! Here’s the basic setup: There’s an outside cloth diaper, called the gPants, sealed with Velcro; an interior washable plastic liner that snaps in; and the flushable insert that absorbs all the castoffs from the cutie’s nether regions.
Strapping on the gDiaper
- Snap the liner to the gPants.
- Stick the insert in the liner. Be sure that the sides come up over the liner.
- Strap on to the baby and admire the cuteness.
Their instructions says to velcro around the back, which is the opposite of what folks usually do with diapers (supposedly it’s to keep the baby from opening the diaper, which isn’t a problem for a 5-week-old). We did it backwards for the first week, but she didn’t mind.
Removing the gDiaper
This is where one realizes the gDiaper is not for the faint of heart or stomach: if you’re a germ-obsessed type who thinks washing and reusing plastic bags is unsanitary (Hi, Mom!), this part might turn you off of the gDiaper. That said, cloth diapers are often rinsed out in the toilet bowl, so one way or another, poop is unavoidable.
- After changing the baby, lift both the lid AND the seat of the toilet.
- Remove the insert.
- Tear down both sides of the insert, allow the cottony insides to fall into the toilet. Important safety tip: Keep hold of the insert’s outer material while allowing the inner core to fall into the toilet. I have yet to get my own hands dirty while doing this, but the idea of it is pretty gross; as Dottie put it to me, you will get into an intimate relationship with your baby’s poo.
- Using their “swishstick,” break up the cottony bits.
- Flush; when the insides having flushed away, let go of the insert’s outer material. I clogged the toilet twice by dumping the outer material in with the rest. Since I started holding onto the outer material, we haven’t had any clogs.
- At this point, you may have noticed a bit of staining on the plastic liner; we’ve just been unsnapping it and rinsing it out in the sink (again, possibly getting in touch with the babypoo). After air-drying, it’s good to use, although it might be a bit stained. Fortunately, you can launder and air-dry the liner, so stains will be minimized in the long-term.
- Put a new insert in the liner so it’s ready to go for the next round.
March 2010 Update: This gets MUCH easier to handle when the baby starts eating solid foods. Liquidy milk poo tends to run around the sides of the insert, into the liner, and sometimes onto the cloth. I’m the only mother I know who rejoiced at the coming of solid-food poop, as it all stays in one place on the insert!
What We Don’t Love
- The biggest drawback, so far, has been the process itself. All that snapping/rinsing/flushing/swishing takes a bit of time, and at 4 AM, with a crying baby, it’s not so easy to get it all done. Our current solution? Disposables at night. During the day, we occasionally set aside the dirty diaper while tending to the baby, then get to it a bit later.
- Going out with the gDiaper: I changed Eliza’s diaper in a public restroom, and with long lines and a screaming baby, I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of going through the process, so I wrapped and tossed the insert in the trash. Worse, though, was the fact that the plastic liner had gotten a bit soiled, and I realized I’d be putting a dirty liner back in the diaper bag. Gross. The website recommends carrying around a waterproof bag for such events, but we might stick with using disposables when going out in public.
- Replacing inserts, gPants and liners requires shipping. I have yet to see any gDiaper inserts at a Walgreen’s, and considering that this is San Francisco, I assume they won’t be any easier to find in small towns.
March 2010 Update: We order our insert refills from diapers.com. Free shipping and it arrives within two days. We order the big four-pack, which lasts us about a month.
- Expense. 40 inserts costs $14.50 on diapers.com (where shipping is free on orders over $49); the same number of Pampers Swaddlers costs $12.50 at Walgreen’s. In addition, as the baby grows, you’ll have an initial cost every three months of new gPants ($61 for four on gdiapers.com) and liners ($5 for a two-pack; the gPants come with one liner per, and I recommend getting a few extra). I’m hoping we’ll be able to find some used reusable pieces when she grows out of the 8-14 lb size.
- Takes some practice. Like I said, we had two clogs before getting the hang of it—that is, before reading all the tips on the website and actually internalizing them.
What We Love
- Fewer dirty diapers in the house. We were tossing out a full paper grocery bag of diapers every 36 hours or so. Since starting with the gDiapers two weeks ago, we’ve only had to empty them two or three times—less waste, less stink.
- Fewer clean diapers in the house. Diapers are BIG. Inserts are small.
- Maintains friendships. Using the gDiaper at a friend’s house is a great way to keep their garbage cans poop-free, something child-free friends will especially appreciate.
- They make us feel good. Sure, having them delivered increases the carbon footprint, but the same goes for a cloth-diaper delivery service; mainly, I like that we’re treating sewage as sewage.
- There’s a cloth option. If you want to go the cloth route, it’s available: gCloths.
Yes, the list of cons appears to outnumber the pros, but having fewer dirty diapers in the house (and not contributing to landfills) is a pro that FAR outweighs the cons. We’re using maybe one or two disposables a day (instead of three or four times that many); the little cloth diapers are super-cute; and our apartment smells a lot better. If you’re thinking about trying out the gDiapers, watch the videos on the site, read through all the tips, and get the starter kit. It’s worth a shot, especially if you live in a small space.