Which Diaper is the Most Eco-Friendly to Use?

Posted by Jason Rector on

About 3.3 million tons of disposable diapers end up in landfills every year. Alarming numbers like these have already caused the world to take bigger steps toward sustainability and parents today are doing their part to make the world a better place.

However, choosing the right eco-friendly diapers demands a good deal of research. You’ll have to factor in the diaper’s materials, price, absorbency, fit, and more before you make your final decision.

Here, we understand what makes a diaper eco-friendly, the types of eco-friendly diapers available out there, and how to make the best pick.

What Makes a Diaper Eco-Friendly?

The eco-friendliness of a diaper depends on its environmental impact.

If you look at traditional disposable diapers, for instance, a single baby would use 5,000 to 6,000 diapers before they’re potty trained. That’s a massive contribution to the landfill, one that would take over 5 centuries to break down.

Re-usable eco-friendly diapers, on the other hand, may have better decomposition and composting capacity but that still doesn’t make them fully planet-friendly because they can only decompose to a certain extent (not to mention that most come with a good amount of plastics).

Eco-friendly reusable diapers, on the other hand, are hailed as the most environmentally friendly choice. Why? Because they’re crafted from sustainable ingredients like organic bamboo, cotton, or hemp. They’re designed to be recycled for multiple years. They’re more affordable and fully free of chemicals and fragrances that tend to cause allergies in newborns.

Types of Eco-Friendly Diapers

When you look for eco-friendly diapers, you’ll bump across generic terms like “sustainable,” “biodegradable,” “compostable,” and more. What does this imply? Before you start your diaper shopping spree, it’s helpful to understand if these “eco-friendly,” diapers are right for your family after all. Four of the most common adjectives that are often mistaken for eco-friendly disposable diapers include:

  • A biodegradable product is something that would eventually break down in the right conditions without harming the planet. While some components in certain diapers may break down under a specific setting, there are no fully biodegradable diaper brands.
  • This buzzword may make you think that a diaper will break down bit-by-bit once it hits the trash can. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the conclusion of this story. For a diaper to compost, factors like the composition of the diaper and the oxygen around it play an important role. Landfill conditions are far from optimal for composting, making it impossible for a diaper to be 100% compostable.
  • Compared to traditional diapers, sustainable diapers are less harmful to the environment. These diapers are generally crafted from plant-based components.
  • Chemical-Free. This can mean a lot of non-scientific things, which is why it’s vital to do your homework before finalizing a diaper brand. Chemical-free diapers are generally free from things like chlorine, fragrance, dyes, or parabens. Some chemical-free diapers may be crafted from plant-based materials.

While there may be an overwhelming number of diapers that boast an eco-friendly feature, it’s important to understand how they’re manufactured, what components they constitute, and to what degree they can biodegrade.

But with so many options available out there, how do you decide which diaper is the most eco-friendly to use? The answer lies in cloth diapers that are made from 100% organic material.

Cloth vs Eco-Friendly Diapers: Which Diaper is the Planet’s (and Your Baby’s) Best Friend?

The main concern with diapers that come packaged as “eco-friendly” is that there are simply too many discrepancies around claims such as “compostable,” “chemical-free,” and “biodegradable.” Most diapers that are disposable but biodegradable still contain plastics (with only the lining and absorbent materials being cellulose-based). 

This leaves us with the single most eco-friendly diaper choice: cloth diapers made from 100% organic materials such as cotton, hemp, or bamboo. Why? Because they can be used on more than one child for several years. What’s more, once a high-quality cloth diaper is well used, it can be recycled into rags. These rags would then take as little as one year to decompose compared to disposables that take over 500 years to break down!

Many eco-conscious parents take their eco-friendly cloth diapering journey up a notch by using all-natural detergents and cloth-diaper-specific detergents. The best part? Cloth diapers are more economical and have a great capacity for recycling even after your baby uses them until they’re potty trained!

What to Consider When Choosing Eco-Friendly Diapers?

Choosing the right eco-friendly diaper requires four important considerations:

  • Environmental Impact. No disposable eco-friendly diapers are fully biodegradable because of the presence of plastic. If you choose an eco-friendly brand with composting services, there will be added costs, so factor that into your budget. If you’re looking for a more economical option, you can always stick to reusable diapers.
  • Disposable diapers labeled as eco-friendly are often pricier than regular disposable diapers. If you’re looking for a planet-friendly diaper that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, a reusable organic cloth diaper is your best friend.
  • Absorbency and Fit. The goal of any diaper, ultimately, is to avoid blowouts. No matter how eco-friendly a diaper brand is, you won’t love it if you have to deal with diaper disasters all day. So, make sure you check the diaper’s absorbency capacity before finalizing it.
  • Your little one will be wearing the diapers you pick day and night. Naturally, you’ll want to stick with diapers that keep your little one’s bum happy. Go for all-natural diapers that are free from chemicals like chlorine, fragrances, and parabens.

Happy Eco-Diapering!

Finding the perfect eco-friendly diaper for your little one will certainly need some trial and error. But once you find the right fit, the journey will become endlessly easy. Aside from buying the right diaper, be sure to focus on making your diapering routine more eco-friendly. Carefully scan the ingredients the diaper is crafted from, trust in a brand that is fully transparent about their manufacturing process and the materials they use, always take the “organic road,” line dry your diapers, and use reusable cotton wipes to clean up the messes.

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