Managing incontinence in an increasingly "green" world isn't easy. If you're at all concerned about environmental issues, it probably hasn't escaped you that disposable absorbent products create a tremendous amount of waste - much of it plastic that doesn't break down easily in landfills. When I was recently asked to recommend a "greener" absorbent product, I was sadly at a loss. My research found a few, limited options for eco-friendly children's diapers, but I couldn't really find very much for adult incontinence.
What's a leaky tree-hugger to do? Well, there are still some options that I wanted to list here. First and foremost, the alternative to disposables is, of course, reusable diapers. When living with incontinence, there is no perfect option for trying to stay earth-friendly, and the reusable cloth options are no exception. Water and detergent still need to be used to cleanse the product, not to mention the electricity to run the washing and drying machines.
While reusable products may save you money in the long run, depending on your individual diaper usage, they can be a big investment in the beginning, making them cost-prohibitive for some individuals. Reusable is also often not an option when living in a nursing or long-term care facility, where it would become difficult to launder the products.
If you feel that disposable products are the right choice for you, here are some factors to keep in mind when choosing disposable products that may make an ecological difference. One consideration is how much urine a product can comfortably hold. High quality products that can be urinated into a number of times before being changed do exist! These products do such a phenomenal job of wicking away the moisture that within minutes you no longer feel the wetness and they neutralize the odor almost instantly, so you may only dispose of half to a quarter of the products you would with other, less-absorbent options.
A second consideration in disposable products is utilizing a disposable absorbent "liner." These products can be placed inside the disposable brief, and, after they are wet, the liner can be disposed of and generally the brief can be reused. Both of these options - "reusable" disposable products and disposable liners - mean less waste going to the landfill.
Because there isn't yet any ideal product for managing incontinence, there are some other, smaller things that you might want to do to help offset your carbon footprint. If you can afford it, you may want to buy your disposable products in bulk - larger quantities mean less packaging, which in turn means less waste. If using reusable products, look into buying an eco-friendly detergent for washing the product, and use washing / drying machines with the "energy star" efficiency label.
One last thing that everyone might consider doing is writing a letter to the manufacturer of your favorite products to let them know that preserving the environment is important to you. Encourage them to do all they can to produce green products.
Published On: January 22, 2008