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Thursday, January 6, 2011

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Disposables versus Hybrids – is there really a difference?

We live in a disposable world.  Americans regularly dispose of over 4 pounds of trash per person per day.  Many parents choose cloth diapers over disposables so that they can personally reduce their impact on our disposable society.  While cloth diapering parents want to avoid using disposable diapers there are still occasions where using disposables seems like the only viable option. 

Some common reasons that cloth diapering parents use disposable diapers include:

  • Traveling
  • Sickness – diarrhea, yeast infection, or severe diaper rash
  • Childcare provider not willing to use or accept cloth diapers
  • Relatives or friends not willing to use or accept cloth diapers

ENVIRONMENT:  Are hybrid systems any better for the environment compared to disposables?
  • Both the Flip and GroVia disposable inserts are much smaller in size than disposables creating less waste by volume than disposable diapers. 
  • Both Flip and GroVia disposable inserts contain only 3 grams of SAP compared to 10-20 in traditional disposable diapers which makes them a healthier option for your baby compared to disposable diapers.
  • Since the Flip and GroVia are meant to be used inside a diaper cover or shell they don’t need any ink to decorate the outside of the diapers like with disposables.
  • They also don’t need Velcro on each disposable insert since they are placed inside a reusable shell or cover.  
  • Flip inserts are made using a bamboo viscose, wood pulp filler, and starch-based glues (all better than plastic based products used in other disposable diapers)
  • GroVia are both biodegradable and compostable (see notes below).
  • GroVia are fragrance free, dye free, plastic free and chlorine free.
  • Both are made by cloth diaper companies whose primary mission is to get more babies in cloth diapers.
COST:  Are hybrids more expensive than disposables?  It all depends on which disposable you are comparing them to.  For our cruise I selected the Huggies Pure & Natural diaper which cost me $19.99 for 56 size 4’s at the local big box retailer.  This equates to a cost of $0.3569 per diaper.  Compared to the per diaper price of Flip at $0.275 each and the GroVia Biosoakers at $0.3995.  Flip disposable inserts clearly win over disposables if price alone is a factor.

SPACE:  If you are traveling and space is limited the hybrid systems are hands down the best option.  You can see here the difference between the sizes of each insert.   The GroVia Biosoakers are actually the smallest of them all. 

FIT:  Using disposable diapers for a week made me realize how badly they fit a baby.  Disposables fit poorly around the legs and waists and are more likely to leak than a cloth diaper.  The GroVia BioSoakers are a much better fitting insert and include an inner leg gusset and protective layer unlike the Flip.  However, both the Flip and GroVia liners are used with an outer shell or cover which will actually add an extra layer of protection from leaks.  Since they both use an outer shell they are truly a better fit than disposable diapers. 

COMPOSTING AND BIODEGRADABILITY:  GroVia markets their disposable inserts to be compostable and biodegradable (under certain conditions).  Be sure to educate yourself on the conditions that would be required to compost and degrade naturally.

My final thoughts on hybrids and disposables:  I think that parents (especially mothers) have enough stresses in their lives that if they choose to use a disposable diaper or disposable insert they shouldn’t feel like a bad parent.  With that being said I also think that if a parent feels strongly about using cloth diapers 100% of the time that there is a way to use cloth diapers in every situation.  Only you know your boundaries and limits. 

If you are faced with deciding between a hybrid system (like the Flip and GroVia) and a disposable diaper the hybrid systems are better for the environment, better for your babies health, and better for your wallet.  The differences may not be as significant as when you use cloth diapers but every little bit helps.  I also think that hybrid systems are a great option for those parents who are unsure if they are ready to make the commitment to cloth diapers.

What are your thoughts on hybrids?  Have you used them?  Do you like them better than disposable diapers?

By Calley Pate – owner and editor of The Eco Chic blog and Eco Chic Parties.      


Yara said...

I notice g-diapers aren't mentioned.
I couldn't convince my hubby to use cloth (thru a diaper service) with our firstborn. We went with pampers. It was expensive & annoying. Sure. I'd get the occasional coupon for a free pack of diapers when one diaper in my pack was damaged missing velcro) but it was a mess. Plus the diaper genie. Ack!
WIth dd2, we switched to 7th gen sposies. They seemed better to us. But they were harder to find. I had to drive far & stock up. One day my store was out. I had to buy diapers, so I picked up a box of gdiapers, after being assured I could get a refund (at whole foods) if they were terrible. They weren't terrible. I bought some refills & another starter set. I was washing the gpants & liners. Flushing inserts.
I realized, I was washing diapers.
I looked into cloth diapers. I was overwhelmed (where you around in 2005?)
I went to a friends house to look through her diapers, and decided I liked babykicks hemp inserts, because they'd work with the gdiapers I had.
I slowly began my obsession (I'm not ashamed) with cloth diapers.
I even had a very small cd business for a while, between my second & third children.
I still make cloth diapers for friends who are pregnant, and some of them end up using cloth; you know, the smart ones ; )
But if it hadn't been for that first hybrid diaper, I'd have never known about the wonderful world of cloth.
Gdiapers are still my fave hybrid when we travel. I like the softness of flip, but found I had to double up on them, after an insert exploded on my son after a couple hours of wear (just through check in & airport security, which didn't take too long)
The grovia/baby I tried were the first batch they came out with, and I still have a cover with leftover goo on it from the sticky tab (I used it in July!)

I absolutely think hybrids have a time & place for some families.

Saph said...

I haven't started CDing because my baby's not born yet. I was drawn to the hybrids because the disposable inserts will be more convenient when we are out or for when others will babysit. From what I've seen, I like gDiapers flushable inserts.

Parrott Family said...

I currently use the GroVia AI2 and I LOVE them! I typically always use the cloth inserts, but on one occasion we were traveling for a weekend when our youngest was only 3 wks old. We brought the disposable inserts, went to Sea World, and he had a MAJOR BF explosion. I was so worried bc everyone around us heard it during one of the shows. To my surprise, the gussets on the insert held ALL of it in! I couldn't believe it. After using disposables with our first (now 20 mon) and all the clothes I had to throw away from explosions I was, yet again, reassured we might the right choice to switch. (not to mention we haven't had a rash since switching to cloth - and it's been 6 months!) Thanks for the post :)

Jill said...

To us, it's about 2 things now, having been CD users for over 2 years, the trash, and the smell. You still get both with a hybrid. Good choice though to get people to cross over, or if you can't use cloth for some reason. One of the last times we moved, I put my daughter in a grovia (was grobaby so old style) hybrid, so she'd still have the cloth look. It only lasted 2 changes, we couldn't tolerate the smell of even urine on the disposable insert and decided to take our lumps when moving with cloth.

Alice said...

We use Hybrids, and love them. have used them since day 1 with this, our first, baby. We use the cloth inserts most of the time but we use the disposable inserts when traveling or at a friend's house for the day. We use the gdiapers system though, I have been wondering why you don't ever mention that brand?

Maria D. @ DownrightDomesticity said...

Don't forget the gDiapers! They are pretty much the same as GroVia and Flip, except they're even more breathable, in my opinion, because the outer is made out of jersey cotton with a little nylon snap-in liner. I stuff mine with prefolds, but I will use the occasional disposable liner for trips out. The liners are pretty expensive ($15 for a 32-pack-- about 49 cents a pop!), but they are flushable! No way a disposable could do that! So that's just my two cents. It seems to me that the gDiaper is ignored at best or maligned at worst by the CD community, and that's a shame, because I honestly don't see much difference between them and Flip or GroVia.

Kelley said...

I have to disagree with the hybrid diapers being better for your wallet. If you shop around you can almost always find disposables for 14 cents per diaper and a lot of the time I find them for less than 12 cents. I am an avid cloth diapering mama but there are occasions when we do use disposables (church, travel, diaper rash requiring heavy creams). I check the sales and clip coupons and then have a small stash of disposables in my attic for times when we need them.

I have used the hybrid diapers and we had a lot of problems with absorbency. I was constantly battling leaks that I do not have when using cloth or disposables.

Lastly, in certain situations I am not able or do not want to do laundry. Using a hybrid still involves some laundering of the diaper. For these reasons I will continue to use disposables when we are no able to cloth diaper.

Sheena Byerley said...

We used the Flip disposable inserts when we drove up to visit my Grandmother. I had a pack that someone had thrown in when I bought two used Flip covers. I was really happy with them. I know I could have brought a wet bag and used the stay dry inserts, but it made one less thing to haul around. I would totally recommend them for travel. I suppose you could use them full time, but that seems more wasteful to me.

Calley said...

The one thing I only briefly touched on was that we were on a cruise for 5 days and wouldn't be able to launder the cloth diapers.

Yes, as many of you have pointed out there are cheaper options for disposable diapers but I was comparing hybrids with the Huggie's Naturals since they are still better for the environment (barely) than the conventional disposables. This same would hold true for Seventh Generation and other more eco-friendly lines.

I have never used the g-diapers so I couldn't compare them in this article. I wouldn't have been able to flush them on the cruise so they would have ended up in the garbage anyways.

Yes, you wouldn't still have to do laundry with hybrids but it is much easier to handwash the covers.

PS - we use cloth 100% of the time when at home, daycare, outings, and MOST travel. This was the one trip when I just couldn't make them work.

time4latte said...

I used cloth until my son started getting horrible yeast rashes, so we've (gulp) been using disposables since, and we haven't had any problems with rashes since. That doesn't mean that I want to give up on CDing all together. I honestly think I got a bad batch of hand-me-down CD's. A friend recommended trying flip disposable inserts since I already have a host of shells/wraps that I could use them in. I purchased a single pack and right now I'm very happy with them! I honestly think that flip will help me transition back to using more CD and hopefully exclusively with #2 when the time comes.

Another note - flip disposable inserts are also compostable!

Mrs. Obie said...

I was drawn to hybrids first. My husband loved that we could buy disposable inserts and cloth inserts. But I decided to go with full on cloth diapers. I still felt like I wouldn't be doing enough for my baby/the environment buy still using disposable inserts. Now that we've been CDing for almost 4 months, I'm actually considering buying some hybrids of some kind with disposables. After a couple of instances we had (one was when we were out doing touristy stuff and I had to carry around a poopy diaper because we weren't allowed to carry bags/purses and another one when we ran out of cloth during a day trip and we had to buy a package of sposies.) I've decided to invest in a couple of hybrids and both cloth and disposable inserts.

Calley said...

And to read more about my decision to pack disposables on our cruise please visit my blog:

XO! Calley

Anonymous said...

We are fairly new to cloth diapering. I decided to start when I lost my job so I haven't been brave enough to spend $18 on the BG pocket diapers I want because it just seems like a fortune. So we do mainly use "my mother's diapers." They always say the new cloth diapers are NOT "your mothers' diapers. Ha. But I can't get my husband to even try to change cloth diapers so hopefully if I buy the more expensive kind he will stop wasting our disposables. I don't know why websites always say disposables are 25 cents or so each. When I buy disposables I buy the Walgreens or Meijer ones. I like them SO much better than pampers or huggies. And you can get them for around 16 cents or less most of the time. I looked into the Gdiapers but I couldn't imagine paying so much for diapers that they will grow out of more than once. I just wish there were coupons and ANY stores around me that sold cloth diapers so I could actually see the diapers before I bought them. :( Makes it hard to do the CDing.

Upstatemamma said...

I have used both the flip and the gro via hybrid systems at one point or another. I like them both. I think that if you are willing to put the work into it it is simple enough to use cloth all the time. That said there are times when convenience wins out. When I was in Ethiopia for a month I could not warrant the expense of disposables so we hand washed cloth every night. When we went to Disney World this past summer we used disposables because they were easier and we did not want to be washing diapers every night. I would actually recommend the gro via inserts with the flip covers - if your child has a poopy diaper that gets on the cover the flip is easier to clean off as opposed to the gro via that really needs to be washed.

J.Heglar said...

I have used disposible (Luvs), hybrids (gdiapers), and cloth (Best Bottoms), and I have found that I love the Best Bottoms. We all know the pros and cons of sposies and with cloth. I have used the gdiapers when traveling and found that if you aren't careful, the insert will clog a toilet, even when I tore them in half and used the little wand that goes with them. To me, the gdiapers have too many pieces. You have the outside cover, the inner PUL cover, and the insert. I will use the gdiapers when traveling only because a friend gave me 4, yes 4, packages of disposable inserts.

J said...

I'd like to try Flip and Grovia - so far we've only used gDiapers. They are OK but for poop they always require having to wash the cover, and that makes them difficult to travel with. I have 4-5 covers but if my son poops twice in a day, I'd have to find somewhere to do laundry when we are traveling in order to keep using the gDiapers. I wonder if the Flip and Grovia have that same issue with poop.

Kym said...

What IS it about gDiapers always being ignored? We use GroVia, fuzzibunz, happy heiney's, bum genius, Ecobumz and a few WAHMs, but g's are my go-to diaper. (love their trimness and ease to launder). We usually use them with gCloth, gFlappers or prefolds; but for travel without access to laundry, it is hard to beat g's because the covers and liners pack up so compactly and are easy to wash and dry in a shower if needed.

Anna said...

I was actually wondering this, just yesterday. Flip disposables are a little bit more money than the cheapo disposable diapers I buy when I need them. But I certainly can't argue with fit- we are new to cloth, but completely love that covers contain everything. And it's also good to know that there is indeed a difference for the enviornment.

Katie L. said...

Yes I agree that it seems odd to not mention gDiapers. I also find it funny to explain how cheap the refills are, however conveniently leaving out the cost of the cover, washing, detergent, and time (Actually those factors are commonly left out of the cloth savings equation). This is some manipulation of the facts. I agree that no parent should feel condemned for any parenting choice, including disposable vs. cloth.

This statement in the article I find comical:
"Both are made by cloth diaper companies whose primary mission is to get more babies in cloth diapers."

I believe their primary mission is to make $$$$! That doesn't make them good or bad, simply businesses. We should be careful not to glorify the companies to be good simply because they also sell cloth diapers, which some seem to believe is a moral decision.

After all that negative criticism, I am a huge cloth diaper fan! I avoid disposables like the plague for my sensitive baby, the environment, and my $$. So, I use gDiapers only for emergencies and camping. Convenient, but more expensive than cloth.

Alice said...

there is another difference between the gdiapers and the grovia and flip, which is that the disposables for gdiapers are compostable. As an environmental scientist, these won me over because of the cradle to cradle certification that no other hybrid brand has.

Hannah said...

I don't use hybrids because when you add the shipping costs, they are much more expensive than the off brand of disposable available at my local grocery store (about $6 for a 36 pack). If they were locally available and no more than 20-30% more expensive than disposables I might buy them for airplane travel.

Megan said...

I just bought my flip system, I don't see a big difference between using that with a insert (the stay dry insert that comes with it) or using a diaper cover with a prefold in it. I am sure it will be trimmer, and thus more comfortable. The insert seems to fit better inside the shell better though. IDK, for the price I almost like pockets better. We'll see!

Alycia said...

I love GroVia BioSoakers- they fit well and contain the messiest of messes. I have no problem using a disposable insert at times- I'd rather use a more environmently friendly made sposie insert once per day then use chemically laden disposable diapers exclusively.

tarabean said...

Fan of Kelly Wels!

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of hybrids but the price isn't always cheaper than disposies.

Anonymous said...

i confess, i use hybrids less for the environment, more for my baby's wellbeing. we use grovia shells with biosoaker disposable liners and he has never, not ever, had one bit of diaper rash. they're pricey, but you can't argue with success. only trouble is that i can't double up the liners at night so now i'm considering getting some flip disposables since it seems like they can be doubled.

Anonymous said...

I would like to highlight there is a new hybrid baby diaper in Europe called Levita Duetto (I don't think it is imported in US). It is different from all the other diapers because disposable insert pad is made of pure cotton (fabric and core) and therefore more suitable for sensitive skins. Probably other hybrids will come in the future! Development just started!