Pampers is now on the Offensive

Believe it or not, cloth diapers are worrying Pampers.  With the recent press on the Dry Max diapers allegedly causing “burn like” rashes or contact dermatitis, their PR people are frantically trying to repair the damage.

One such way they are countering the bad press caused by the Facebook group “Bring back the Old Pampers Cruisers” which is up to 8,300 members and counting, is to publish how cloth diapers are no good!

Obviously my website publishes how disposables, and at times Pampers, are not good for our babies or planet.  I may be biased, but I do that because it is truth to me.  Pampers is trying to save their business, so lets hear them out.  All information was taken from Pamper’s website.

Because it is what I do, I am going to examine their newest attack on cloth diapers to see what is true, false, or in between.

Myth: Cloth diapers are better for my baby.

Fact: Disposable diapers like Pampers were developed to offer babies benefits that cloth diapers could not meet. That goes beyond convenience to helping keep babies’ skin dryer and more comfortable by reducing leaks and locking wetness inside the diaper in a way that cloth doesn’t. As a result, doctors and parents simply don’t see the same level of diaper rash that used to exist before disposable diapers.

Their main argument that disposables are better for babies is that cloth diapers leak and don’t keep babies dry. They are preying on the fact that most parents still don’t know there are modern cloth diapers. Nothing is wrong with using the old style, but for those who want a stay dry liner and the convenience of an easy on/ easy off diaper, cloth diapers offer that as well. And their claim that more rashes existed before disposables is very false. I am working on finding the study (if you have seen it please tell me!) that claims the exact opposite.  As a matter of fact, my son had more leaks with disposables at night than with cloth diapers (during a period when we were working on getting the ammonia out of our diapers he used them for a little while.)  No leaks with cloth, at least 3 nights of waking up soaked with a disposable.  Funny….

Also, these super dry diapers are one of the reasons children are learning to use the potty, later and later.  When at one time babies were learning by 1.5 to 2 years, the average child learns between 3-4 years!  The ultra dry diapers are only one of many reasons for this (a culture shift) but using cloth diapers does contribute to babies potty learning earlier!  I sure hope so at least!

Myth: Cloth diapers are better for the environment than disposables.

Fact: In October 2008, the United Kingdom’s Environment Agency published an update to its 2005 Life Cycle Assessment study on cloth versus disposable diapers. The update confirmed the earlier study’s findings that there is no clear winner in terms of environmental impacts between disposable and cloth diapers in the U.K., once all factors such as water, energy, detergent, and disposal are considered.

I don’t care what way you slice it, there is no way any study (and I find fault with many studies quoted by disposable companies and would love for a true unbiased study comparing cloth and disposables to be performed) will convince me that the sheer amount of waste generated by disposables isn’t worse for the environment than a resuable option.  Pampers, do you wash your clothes and your sheets?  So do I.  So does everyone else.  Adding 3 more loads of laundry a week does add up, but does it override the tons of trash generated by each family in disposable diapers and human waste?  You also neglect to mention that unlike disposables, cloth diapers aren’t just used for one child.  Whether those diapers are used on one or more younger siblings, or given a new life in a new family, they live on for years.

Myth: Developing countries prove that cloth diapers are better than disposable diapers.
Fact: Our product provides key benefits in terms of skin health, dryness, and even sleep. In China, for example, we’ve learned that babies and parents are frequently awakened during the night each time the baby soaks the bed, because the baby has no diaper or a very thin piece of cloth. As a result, studies have shown that a disposable diaper can help a baby there get a better night’s sleep. In another test, we have also seen less fecal contamination spread around the home using disposables versus cloth or nothing.
Clearly, we have a lot to learn about how to help with basic hygiene needs in countries that have very different access to clean water to wash with, and how to best dispose of products after use. We’ve also learned about hygiene for older children through our Always feminine care business – where in many parts of the world girls are forced to miss school one week each month during their period because they don’t have enough pads or fresh water.
We are working in those regions to better understand what they do with products after use, and how to work with local agencies and other businesses to ensure the best long-term system to manage it.

This is probably a nod to defend them marketing cheaper disposables to third world nations that have mostly used cloth.  Are they are also hoping to end the practice Elimination Communication in countries like China?  Just because most Americans can’t fathom their babies never wearing a diaper, other countries only use EC.  And if Pampers thinks the babies are going to the bathroom wherever they please, I am here to tell you that is not the case.  The parents are there to help the babies and catch their eliminations.  Their home isn’t full of baby droppings like a non trained puppy.  It is insulting to insinuate such a thing.  As for sleep, I honestly don’t know how EC families who don’t use diapers handle this until they learn to hold it.  I imagine it would disrupt their sleep but the families are well prepared for this.  Not every baby begins sleeping through the night at 6 weeks like the American ideal.  Many Americans stuff their baby full of thickened formula to get them to sleep longer too, but it doesn’t mean that is right.  Just means people do it.

And I want to quickly address their Always claim.  Pampers cites that girls in third world countries have to miss school because they don’t have access to feminine hygeine products.  Oh, you mean pads that you throw away after each use?  This is simply not true.  Periods are not new, and neither is school.  There are such things as cloth pads.  Or, menstrual cups, which have been distributed to girls in many countries.  And more recent studies do show a decline in attendance during their time of the month, but it wasn’t due to the lack of access to throw away feminine products.  It was due to cramps.

Myth: Disposable diapers are harmful to the environment.
Fact: All of the component materials in Pampers diapers are gentle to consumers and safe for the environment. Pampers diapers are made of materials that are also frequently used in a wide range of other consumer products. We are committed to continuing to reduce our environmental impact. For example, Pampers has decreased its diaper weight by one-third and packaging weight by two-thirds. And innovative technologies, raw materials, and product design improvements have led to significant reductions in energy, water use, emissions, and waste at our plants. We are working so that our diapers in the future will have less impact on the environment than even today’s diapers.

Don’t pee on my head and tell me it’s raining, Pampers.   First, just because other products use materials found in your diapers it doesn’t make it right or safe.  But, if you want to play that card, that statement is lacking the fact that one ingredient (sodium polyacrylate) found in your diapers has been banned from tampons for being linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome.*  On top of that, Dioxin, another chemical in your diapers, is banned in most other countries because it is linked to cancer and is one of the most dangerous chemicals according to the EPA.*  Their new “environmentally friendly” diaper is the one most likely causing the rashes being suffered by thousands of parents.  Is it because there is less paper filler, and less material between the baby and the chemicals?  And only when they create a new product do they acknowledge the impact on the environment of their old diapers.

Myth: The materials that make up Pampers diapers are depleting our forests.

Fact: The pulp used in our diapers comes from well-managed forests in North America. In some cases, we source our pulp from scrap wood chips from lumber and saw mills. Our pulp suppliers are required to be certified by an independent third party as practicing sustainable forestry. Certification includes standards and criteria for replanting trees, protecting biodiversity, water, air and soil, and for obtaining broad stakeholder input into the forest management plan.

We live in a disposable world.  We use forests to make toilet paper, paper plates, disposable diapers, etc.  I can’t claim to have never used these products.  I will say that though cloth diapers do use resources on our planet as well, many use more renewable materials such as bamboo and hemp.  Not to mention most of the diapers that use cotton choose to use organic cotton.  If your claims are true, that is great.  But it doesn’t make up for the amount of waste put into landfills by your diapers.

*Facts taken from the Real Diaper Association.

The RDA is taking a stand.  If you want to write your own post about Real Diaper myths and facts read this cool info.

This post is part of the Real Diaper Facts carnival hosted by Real Diaper Events, the official blog of the Real Diaper Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to cloth diaper education. Participants were asked to write about diaper lies and real diaper facts. See the list at the bottom of this post to read the rest of the carnival entries.

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