Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Word up, G?

Brother #2 flipped me a link to the gDiaper site. They make flushable diapers, which seem too good to be true.

The idea is that rather than sending all that human waste to the landfills, we can now flush it into the sewage system, which is designed for that kind of waste. Of course, we're also then adding the bulk of the diaper to the sewage system--so my guess is that it wouldn't work if you're on a septic system.

If these work as advertised, I'm not sure that I see any downside, except that they're 40 cents a flush. (To you Brits, that's like almost a farthing, or three stones, or half a gill. Or something.)

Has anybody tried these?

Know anybody who has?

Is this too good to be true?


  1. looks too good to be true but dammit if i don't want to try them now

  2. Anonymous3:11 PM

    That is literally pissing your money away.

    I'm still a big advocate of cloth.

  3. Bastard! You scooped my post!

    Anyway, those are the ones d.w. and I are going to use. We had been planning on cloth, but these use a lot less water (at least from our end -- not sure about the entire manufacturing process) and the flushable part is made from certified wood. You can compost the diapers as long as they're only wet, but I would assume you'd have to stay on top of the nitrogen content of your compost.

  4. I almost forgot: there was a post a while back on Treehugger, in which the comments turned into a back-and-forth with the owner of the company. Pretty interesting.

  5. Anonymous11:08 PM

    Zygote daddy forgot the other reason we are goign with them. You can use them with both the flushable inserts and cloth pre-folds. So while at home you can go cloth, but then can switch to the flushables while out and about. And if we decide that cloth is too much to handle we are not out tons of money since we can still use the covers with the flushables.

  6. It's an interesting concept (K___ and I are still in two minds over the whole nappies issue) but I bet they don't do them in the UK anyhow.

    I'm probably being really dense, but surely flushing them down the bog just passes the cost of disposal to the sewerage companies? I presume toilet roll and these nappies and all other non-biological waste doesn't completely bio-degrade in the time it takes to go from bog to treatment plant, because then they'd have to constantly 'de-clag' the pipes, so I'm guessing they remove it at the treatment plant. Or, like I say, I'm just very ill informed about sewerage.

  7. That's the bit that I can't work out either, but I'm in the dark as well about sewage. Maybe ZD knows something about it that we don't. He's done a lot more research on these than I have.

    Poor guy, now he's got both of us nicking posts from him. Oh well, early dad gets the diaper. . .or something.

  8. Not sure about the UK, but here all solid waste gets ground up and compacted into fertilizer (yummy, I know), so I'm not sure you'd really need to worry about "disposal", per se. As for clogging, what I read (written by the company, so take it with a grain of salt) is that you have to stir the diaper around for a spell in the toilet so that it breaks down somewhat before you flush it. Icky, but come on - you just wiped up the rest of your kid's shit, so a little more can't be too bad. Supposedly they are OK with septic, but I would be REALLY skeptical of that claim.

  9. Here's a post on Parent Hacks about gDiapers. Once again one of the people from gDiapers answers questions in the comments. They must really keep tabs on who's talking about their product. They'll probably comment here at some point, too.

  10. Lewis, thanks for the link. The comments on that Parent Hacks post explain a lot. Granted, some are from one of the founders of gDiapers, but there are plenty of happy customers too.

  11. Zygote Daddy is in the Midwest, where the tradition may be to grind up waste and turn it into fertilizer. That's certainly a good use of a usable product. (Some people generate electricity with the methane that comes from waste digestion too.)

    On the U.S. coasts, it has long been a tradition to dump sewage waste into the oceans. As the Clean Water Act has evolved, the sewage needs to be processed, filtered, treated, etc. before being piped far out to sea (sometimes ±5 miles). Having toured sewage facilities in Southern California, I can tell you they comb through the runny sludge that comes through the sewer mains to recover everything from paper towels to bowling balls. If a diaper were still in its original form--if it's not already disintegrated or at least shredded by the time it hits the municipal plant--it would get raked out along with other rubbish.

    I'm a big believer in using the sludge for fertilizer. To me, it beats dumping it either on the ocean floor or in a canyon somewhere. Many people with reasonable minds think otherwise: They point out that municipal sewer waste can have everything in it from excreted caffeine, natural and artificial hormones, pharmaceuticals and vitamins to poisons like delousing shampoo, athlete's foot treatments, cleaning products, bleaches, and on and on. These people don't want that stuff entering (or re-entering) the food chain.

    Although responsible sewage plants test for many chemicals in their sludge (whether it's used for fertilizer or dumped somewhere), they can't possibly test for everything that could be there, and there are many known compounds that even a responsible plant may not test for.

    So I can see both sides of the coin. I still believe in using the material as fertilizer, but I have been directly involved in operations where the solids were being applied to fields used to feed farm animals, and I can personally tell you what a groundswell of opposition there was--to the point where Senator Harry Reid, now the Senate Minority Leader, reached across state lines to effectively shut down the operation. He has voted several times for various parts of the Clean Water Act, but apparently he does not believe in using retrieved waste in agricultural applications. He'd rather dump it out at sea, or on land somewhere.

    Short version of the story being that not all waste in the U.S. gets used as fertilizer, and yes, solid rubbish like diapers does get combed out and has to be disposed of somewhere. At municipal expense.

  12. I knew that if we waited long enough, someone would come along who knew what he was talking about.

    Nice work, Bro #2.

    Perhaps ZD, the nascent ecologist, can shed some light on the chemicals leached into the ecosystem angle.