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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

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The Whisperer Answers: How much can you really save using BumGenius?

Ok, it's time to go get your green on. Do you feel like you're constantly spending money on diapers, like every five minutes? Yeah, we used to feel that way too. With Lizzie, we made a conscious decision to go cloth, after finding that she got lots of rashes with disposables. We settled on the bumGenius one size cloth diapers. What's this one size stuff about? Your garden variety, traditional cloth diaper involves a big wad of cloth, shoved inside a cover that keeps all the junk inside, lots of moving parts, not very user-friendly. A one size diaper, like the bumGenius, goes on like your average disposable. Inside, there's a pocket that holds the various absorbent pads.

The one size diapers are very easy to use. My wife refers to them as "Husband-Friendly". Even the nursery workers at church can handle these things. They're adjustable, and fit kids that are between 7 and 35 pounds. What's the down side of these diapers? They're not cheap. Up-front costs are pretty high. The bumGenius diapers cost about $18 each. The folks at Kelly's Closet sell larger quantities (12 or more) for a decent discount though (about $1 per diaper). Their "Starter Package" is right about $400, and includes 24 diapers. Based on prices for Pampers at Amazon, and Kelly's Closet, as of Nov 6, 2008, here's what I came up with. The primary assumption I made was that the child would wear diapers until they're 3 years old, and used an informal poll between a few random sources, including our own experiences with our 2 children to come up with how many diapers per day would be used.

Pampers CostsbumGenius Costs


Wow, that's quite a difference, eh? So, if you're willing to invest at least 7 months of time to devote to using cloth, you'll come out roughly even ($440.48 vs $450.60). If you continue down the cloth road, by the time your child is potty trained, you will have saved a bit more than $1500. What does this comparison fail to account for? The cost of washing the diapers vs. disposal of the disposable diapers. Most folks buy bins like the Playtex Diaper Genie, which means you're in for buying replacement cartridges, so more ongoing costs.

Maybe cloth isn't for you. There's certainly a larger commitment involved - you'll be doing a load of diapers every day. You could stretch this to every 2 days once the child is a bit older, or if you get another 12 diapers, which would add another 50% to the cost. That means your time period to recoup your investment is closer to a year. Still, you're ahead by about 2/3 in that case as well. For us, it's totally worth it. And guess what? Lizzie doesn't get rashes from cloth diapers, ever.

Financial and comfort issues aside, consider the potential environmental impact from using cloth diapers, vs. disposables. How often do you empty a diaper genie that's full of diapers, resulting in a pile the size of your leg? Think about how large a pile of disposable diapers that is over the first few years of a child's life. Go back up above, and multiply it all out, using the disposable numbers -- that's over 7,000 diapers. That's a pretty large pile of diapers that will spend dozens or in some cases, up to hundreds of years in landfills (for the non-cotton components in the diaper). With a cloth diaper solution, what are you introducing into the environment, apart from the bio-waste? Water and detergent, just like washing clothes. However, with diapers, you use less detergent, and can always use a more naturally formulated detergent, further minimizing environmental impact.

-Written by Jason C.- Blog Contributor


Angela Sundaramurthy said...

And if you have had five children in five years, with three currently in diapers (as I do), the $150/mo for diapers and wipes were paid for in three months, and I'll be using these diapers for years. A lot of one-size diapers boast newborn through potty training, but the BumGenius actually delivers, and without the bulk. For a time I was using the same BG's on my 2mo as I was on my 20mo and my 3yo!!! And their bottoms look a lot nicer, especially when I use BabyCubes wipes solution on cloth wipes. Reduce the cost more when you use cloth menstrual pads and, GASP, cloth toilet paper. I knew a lady who did cloth TP for her family and I thought she was nuts. If you can use cloth wipes on a toddler, you can use it on you! Now, if only I could get the rest of the family to "buy" that one! We'd save TONS of money!!!

Dee Anne said...

Our water bill actually stayed almost the same. I wash diapers every other day. But I wash them through 3 wash cycles--1 cold, 2 hot. My BumGenius and Fuzzi Bunz diapers still look great! We really did not see much of a change in our electricity bill or gas bill. It may have gone up a couple of dollars, but not by much. I stay at home so we really have to watch where every penny goes. Cloth diapering is the way to go to save money. It is soooooo much cleaner than disposables. And cloth diapers are just cuter!

Kelly Wels said...

Hi Angela,
What great points! Thanks so much for your post.
We love BG here!

Kelly Wels said...

Hi Dee Anne,
Yes, cloth diapers are way cuter and I love not having to go to the store when I need more. If I could order my groceries on-line so I didn't have to leave I would!!

Erika said...

i'm excited to start using cloth diapers!!!
not only for environmental reason but for $$$ reasons as well.
it's a win-win :)

(also- i added an extra/same comment to the giveaway entry. oops. please delete one of the duplicates so i can still enter to win :)

Kristy said...

thanks for this post! we are currently considering a switch to cloth (and eyeing the BG 3.0) with our four month-old. my biggest hesitations have been 1) that i am afraid i will regret a several hundred dollar investment into a system that binds me to doing even more (!!) laundry than i already do, and 2) that the savings won't really be that much (when the inconvenience of extra laundry time is considered). your calculations make the savings seem very considerable though...

Katie said...

TOTALLY agree. And I love love love my BG one-size diapers. And the fact that we don't throw away full, stinky, disgusting bags of diaper trash every week. We just run our washing machine every couple of days and start all over. It's fabulous!

Kelly Wels said...

My husband loves to see figures and even he was surprised when he saw the figures on the post. This didn't even include if you use cloth wipes too which will be another big savings.

Serena said...

bumGenius was the reason I was able to convince my hubby to allow me to cloth diaper. As with most men, the financial bottom line was the kicker. The BG OS is the MOST ECONOMICAL and EASIEST solution for those interested in cloth diapering but feeling intimidated. Not to mention that even if you don't have more little ones to recycle the diapers with (in which the savings is even greater) - you can sell them and get a little of your money back. You certainly can't sell your used disposables!!!

Sandra said...

I love this break down. I want to email this info to everymom I know! I was laid off from my job and being a new mom I need to save money but love being green too!

Momto3LittleFlowers said...

Serena: That is so true.

Sandra: Have in mind that you can click on the little envelope at the bottom of the post and it will let you to send it to the email address that you provide!! Go ahead and start emailiing it to everybody!! =)

Andrea said...

How long have people been able to use the BG diapers in total? I've heard that the BG OS diapers (or really any one size) don't save money over fitteds because they wear out before your child is potty trained, and you can't reuse them. This seems a little unlikely, but I'm curious.

Heather M said...

I like that you broke it down so easily! You can also save money by buying a few different brands! Start with 5 different kinds then decide what you like and buy the 18 pack! Well worth it though. And with the one size you can use them child after child. I just switched my daughter to cloth and she's 2. I'm very late in starting. But I will use them with the next so I won't have to spend as much next time around! It's good for the environment and I'm big on that now! It's really worth it. yes it's 5-600 to start up. But that's it START UP! After that it's about $.12 a load!! Not bad!