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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

gDiapers & Other Natural Disposable Diapers that use SAP

A big part of my photo-journalism project is on toxic chemicals in disposable diapers -- which has brought forward a powerful and controvertial conversation about a chemical called super absorbent polymer (SAP).  SAP is commonly found in most all disposable diapers -- even in "natural" brands.  If you were to tear open a disposable diapers, you would find many gel-like beads inside, this is the SAP.  It's what makes disposable diapers so absorbant, and it's also what keeps the moisture off of baby's behind.  There are many tests out there that show this chemical to be non-toxic and safe.
So what's the controversy about?
SAP was introduced into diapers during the 1960s.  It started in Japan, and made it's way to the United States.  Typically then 5-6 grams of SAP were found in each diaper -- today's new thinner diapers use double that.  Although SAP is often called "harmless," "swallowable," and "non-toxic" -- the CHEMICAL also often causes severe skin infections or worse.  During the 1980s, SAP was removed from super-absorbant tampons because of the increased risk of toxic shock syndrome.  In 1999, Archives of Environmental Health published a study where mice were exposed to various brands of disposable diapers and suffered eye, nose, and throat irritations -- even asthma attacks.
In my personal opinion, I feel like these negative studies are often overlooked because disposable diapers make up such a major part of the US economy.  Those major diaper companies have a lot of money to do research and studies to create any statement or results they want.  It's not hard to take a bunch of statistics and make them say anything.  And yes, that goes for both sides of any debate.  However, when it comes to studies about chemicals on my babies' most sensitive parts I prefer to play it safe and NOT use disposable diapers of any kind.
I bring this topic up because many people questioned why I would put a gDiaper in with the cloth diaper photos on my slide show promoting "The Dirties on Diapering" during round 2 funding.  gDiapers use a disposable insert using the chemical SAP.  They promote on their package that they are plastic free, biodegradable, and natural... but they still use SAP, along with other popular companies such as Seventh Generation & Earth's Best.  Although I do not support gDiapers' disposable inserts, I have to support the company.  Like many "green" companies, they are by no means perfect... but they do help in the right direction.  gDiapers were the first cloth diaper I chose when starting cloth.  I used disposables on my daughter for the first year until I became pregnant with my son.  I originally chose cloth because I wanted to save money.  Like most moms, I didn't even really know all of the facts about chemicals inside disposables and the real impact on the environment.  I was just doing what everyone else did.  So, to save some money, I bough some cute little gPants and a few packs of gCloth inserts (with gDiapers you can choose to use cloth or disposable inserts -- I used Cloth).  Now I mostly always use the bumGenius Elemental (aka Organic) because I love how easy the AIOs are and my heavy wetters never leak!  But I have to give thanks to gDiapers for pushing me in the right direction.  I originally chose gDiapers because I could use either cloth or disposable inserts.  I rarely even bought the disposable inserts once I realized how easy cloth was now.  Eventually I did grow less fond of using the snap-in inserts because of the steps involved and also because they need to be replaced every few months so they don't leak.  But I don't know if I would have been ready at first to dive right into cloth without the hybrid option.  It was also easier to convince my husband and family to try it if they had a disposable option when they were with the children.  So for those reasons I DO like gDiapers, and if you love their gCloth system, I see nothing wrong with that!  No SAP in their hemp/cotton fleece inserts -- which are super nice and soft!
However, because of the controversy and my opinion against SAP, I will no longer include photos of gDiapers to promote my photo journalism project.   I hope you understand gMums and gDads!  For those of you that choose to use the adorable little gPants, I ask you to please choose gCloth inserts and not the disposable!  Thank you!!!
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1 comment:

  1. Great post Jamie! When Natalie (CBS journalist) told her hubby about it he said that using those defeats the purpose, so yeah, he's right, it's the same thing as using a sposie... I am a gMum actually, but I only use the gcloth and I jumped at the opportunity to be a gMum for the sole fact of spreading the word about using cloth diapers.