Instead of getting angry and answering them, which others have, I want to approach the subject as saying: YES, using disposables is allowed, at least in my book, and no, I'm no better than other parents just for using cloth.
But if they choose disposables, I think there are valid reasons out there, instead of trying to pretend that you don't save money or the environment (neither of which were my reasons for switching), I'd like them to be honest. Here are real situations in which it is valid using them:
- Because you want to. I know it would be obvious, but for me cloth is a choice, and it is not all or nothing, I still have some disposables around, although the last bag has spent some 3 or 4 months in the closet. It is not up to anybody but the user to decide, and it is way more valid than attacking cloth. A lot of moms won't want to get bothered, or get overwhelmed, or simply think disposables are cute.
- Rashes. Yes, certain babies do better with disposables. Although many people switch the other way due to sensitivity to chemicals, it happens. I did almost quit once for Little Guy, until I found a way to keep him from getting burned. Sometimes there is no perfect washing detergent, or water, or routine and the need for constant creams and ointments makes them a necessity.
- Droughts. I go to the sink, water pours. We're connected to the city system, sometimes certain activities like watering your garden, can be restricted, but in general we take it for granted when it comes to laundry. Not everybody has this situation. A lot of houses in rural areas have their own wells, and sometimes they need to be extremely careful or they run dry. Yes, I don't spend extra water, I do less baby laundry, less flushes, and fill the washer with the water that is spilled waiting for the hot to kick in during a shower, but not everybody has those choices.
- No washer. Yes, I did the Flats and Hand Washing challenge, yes it was doable. Yes, I'm not working out of the house, yes, it took some 30 minutes a day and not everybody can afford such a luxury. There are plenty of hand operated washers, but they save no time. Portable ones like mine are great, but they are unknown, even for the cloth diapering community. I know that some use the laundromat, but then it becomes more expensive than disposables. It is doable, but not easy, and I wouldn't hold anybody responsible for not going cloth on that one.
- Economy. Wait, isn't it cheaper on the long run to use cloth? Yes, but the initial investment can be impossible for some. But even if they use the cheapest diapers out there, or get them donated, or use their old t-shirts, sometimes the water bill comes too high and low income families can get free disposables from diaper banks. Those banks will tell you over and over that cloth is not a viable option (if our cleaning lady in Mexico clothed nine babies and worked full time, anybody can!). Water bills can be the turning point for low income people and diaper banks. That's the reality.
- Laziness. Moms like what they see other moms use. Being innovative and exploring different approaches is not the common ground. I still see a lot of my friends using formula, strollers and cribs. They are happy, it works for them. They don't want to take the time to explore different options, research and come to a conclusion, having a baby is demanding enough. I could not stand disposables and that's why I took the time to research, but a lot of moms like them, they work for them and they don't mind the explosions and spendings. As long as they keep their babies safe and happy, they are doing a good job, and in many aspects I am a lazy mom myself (which is why I co-sleep, breastfeed and cloth diaper, it is easier for me).
Bottom line: I've had much more success not saying anything and letting my diapers speak for themselves. Being judgmental won't help to spread the awareness. Being dishonest and stating that they are not as green (due to a faulty study) or not as economical (using expensive detergents and old washers) won't help anybody's cause and will make you look like a bad mom.