We use cloth diapers. Not the old-fashioned kind, but the post-disposable diaper kind. Some of the new kinds are designed specifically so people (i.e. daycare workers, etc.) who are hesitant to do the dirty work of cloth diapers might not be so... hesitant. Anyway, we are not afraid to get our hands dirty. We really wanted to save money and felt it was also better stewardship of the environment. But I should say, when the going gets tough, it is the money that is the stronger argument. I hate to say it, but that's the truth.
People ask me what kind I prefer, and after a year and a half I have a pretty standard answer:
We use Flip or Econobum covers with Flip stay-dry (microfiber) inserts. For more absorbency, we add a microfiber double or a hemp double (smaller inserts). We do have a few BumGenius 4.0s with snaps. We don't like the velcro (hook and loop) because it wears out faster, although it is easier to get on a squirmy baby. I have newborn cloth diapers, but I almost don't think they are worth it considering the baby wears them for such a short period of time. That would be where the environmental argument comes in...
In previous decades... okay, 30-40 years ago, people used cloth diapers, babies were potty-trained at 18 months, and the landfills looked a lot smaller than they do now. When disposable diapers came along, they became a status symbol. Now, we choose cloth diapers because we can't afford disposable diapers, and yet families with less resources buy brand-name diapers when they can't afford food. I recently read a blog about issues of justice related to diapers. I never thought about diapers in this light, having never had to choose between food and diapers. It made me realize that cloth diapers have now become a status symbol, though, because it implies that you own a washer and dryer.
This is another issue that is upside down, so to speak. Cloth diapering should be the accessible for people who don't have many resources. We fall into that category, but we are still privileged. We have friends and family who bought us diapers and we own a good washer and dryer. We don't have to work 4 jobs to make ends meet, so we have time to wash diapers on top of that.
I don't know the solution to this issue, but I think it falls in the category of urban restoration, or societal restoration, which is probably a better way to look at it, since these issues are not restricted to people who live in cities. However, since my brain is busy with changing poopy diapers, washing them, and feeding the baby who makes the poopy diapers, I can't get any more analytical than that at the moment.