In addition to saving close to $1,600 per year, women who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer and are able to return to their pre-pregnancy weights faster. Breast milk also contains antibodies that help prevent pneumonia and diarrhea, the 2 primary causes of child mortality. Adults who were breastfed as babies have proven to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol as well as lower rates of obesity and type-2 diabetes.
Bisphenol-A (BPA) is an organic compound commonly found in the lining or infant formula and baby bottles and is so common that trace amounts can be found in the urine of 92% of Americans. BPA acts as an estrogen mimic and may be partially responsible for the early onset of puberty in youths, obesity in adults, diabetes and for average sperm counts in men declining by nearly 50% since 1960. Canada banned products with BPA in 2008 after concern over its adverse effects on infants and children.
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Crotch-less pants traditionally worn by Chinese infants are slowly making way for China’s $200 million a year disposable diaper market. China’s landfills are now piled with more than 1 billion used diapers each year, a number that is expected to grow by 50% year on year. By comparison, Americans are responsible for throwing away 18 billion disposable diapers each year. End to end, that is enough to wrap the equator of the Earth in a 3 meter-wide diaper.
Combined, China and the USA account for nearly 100,000 metric tons of petroleum plastics and 770,000 metric tons of paper pulp that go into landfills each year from disposable diaper consumption (in addition to numerous chemical dyes, adhesives, sanitizers and absorbents that leach into soils.) Nearly 4% of all diaper waste in America is fecal matter. Therefore, over 33,000 metric tons of baby fecal matter goes into landfills each year, often in an anaerobic environment that can be a breeding ground for disease. American children poop enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool every 4 weeks yet disposable diapers make it so that very little ever finds its way into proper sewage treatment centers.
American children raised on disposable diapers consume approximately 7000 diapers in their first few years. With reusable cloth diapers, between 20 and 100 are enough depending on the quality of the make and the amount of times laundry is done each week. Reusable cloth diapers can save parents as much as $2000 per year. However, a study done by the Environment Agency of England found that the total carbon footprint in the production and consumption of each disposable diaper is 550 kilograms of CO2. For reusable cloth diapers CO2 consumption is actually higher at 570 kilograms when accounting for typical washer and dryer use. If parents wash in full loads at temperatures less than 60 degrees Celsius and line dry, CO2 consumption can drop to 340 kilograms per reusable cloth diaper.
Breastfeeding Basics. Breastfeeding Benefits and Barriers: Economics. January, 2010.
Center for Disease Control. Provisional Exclusive Breastfeeding Rates by Socio-demographic Factors, Among Children Born in 2006. January, 2010. http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/NIS_data/2006/socio-demographic.htm
World Health Organization. 10 Facts on Breastfeeding. July, 2009.
Patisaul, Heather. Assessing Risks from Bisphenol A. Scientific American. Issue: January-February, 2010.
Grady, Denise. F.D.A. Concerned About Substance in Food Packaging. New York Times. January 15, 2010.
Environment Agency. An Updated Lifecycle Assessment Study For Disposable and Reusable Nappies. January, 2010.
China Daily. Open-Crotch Pants Make Way for Disposable Diapers. July 16, 2004. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-07/16/content_349150.htm.
Clean Air Council. Waste Facts and Figures. December, 2009. http://www.cleanair.org/Waste/wasteFacts.html.
California Energy Commission. Consumer Energy Center: Clothes Dryers. December, 2009. http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/home/appliances/dryers.html.