New and expecting parents often go on a wild goose chase for diapers that are effective, safe, convenient, and healthy for our Earth. Here is a quick snapshot of over ten years of diapering research that we have done in finding the right diapering and toilet options for your family:
Single-Use (Disposable) Plastic Diapers
Despite being mainstream, single use plastic diapers are bad for our Earth and can lead to fewer diaper changes, which is less than ideal for our babies. The national diaper bank advises changing a baby every 2-3 hours, so don’t fall for the 12-hour protection marketing many diapers rely on!
Did you know, 30 months of diapering a child will use around 5,500 single-use diapers which is approximately the size in weight & volume of a minivan! Imagine how much waste that is for every human in single-use diapers! Disposable diapers take 300-500 years to break down, and local landfills are nearly full.
Whether you are looking for healthy options for your baby or looking to be more consumer-conscious, it is time to reconsider using single-use plastic diapers.
Best Diapering Options (For your baby and our Earth):
All of the following diapering options are more sustainable for the Earth and healthier for your baby than single-use diapers. Here is a fun chart that helps break down the information:
What is it?:
- Toilet introduction from birth.
- You listen and watch for toilet cues from your baby and then you place them on a potty or hover them over a toilet. It is a co-learning partnership and can be very rewarding, even if only successful a few times per day!
What you will need:
- Diapers: Cloth or compostable diapers
- A potty or toilet
- A diaper pail
- Time, energy, and patience. This often requires a stay-at-home parent/nanny/family member who understands this approach.
- The most sustainable option. If effective, you won’t be going through many diapers at all.
- This is the healthiest for the baby because they won’t be in wet or soiled diapers (theoretically, at all) as long as cues are read.
- This is the most affordable option as you are limiting the purchasing of diapers and/or reducing how much laundry you do.
- This is an excellent resource for more Elimination Communication information:
- EC is not very convenient unless you are with your baby all day, or have a caregiver who is and is also practicing EC with your child.
Compostable Diapering with EarthBaby
What is it?:
- EarthBaby delivers fresh compostable diapers and wipes to your doorstep weekly.
- Soiled diapers are collected weekly, professionally composted, and turned into nutrient-rich topsoil in about 14 weeks!
- EarthBaby offers diapers from Nature Babycare and Poof that have met the required compostability certifications.
What you will need:
- A membership with EarthBaby
- Compostable diapers and wipes
- Compostable collection bags
- A bin to store soiled diapers (we recommend a non-plastic bin that will have another life after baby. A stainless steel bin with a lid works great and can be found at many retailers as well as on the EarthBaby online store (via members login).
- Very sustainable and potentially the most environmentally friendly option after Elimination Communication. 100% of the waste is diverted from local landfills, and our delivery trucks run on diesel and use bio-fuel whenever possible.
- The products are sourced sustainably and shipped in the most environmentally friendly way; by shipping container, not by air.
- An extremely safe and healthy option.
- All of our diapers are unbleached, contain no latex, plastics, fragrance, or TBT (tributyltin), and are hypoallergenic, reducing irritations and rashes. The corn based plastic used in our diapers is also non GMO.
- EarthBaby service is offered at $29.99/month ($1/day!) and diapers and wipes are sold separately at a competitive price.
- EarthBaby is offering one free month of service, one free pack of diapers, and one free pack of wipes when you sign-up using code: PEARACHUTE.
- For more information on EarthBaby, their process, or Q&A please visit EarthBaby.com or watch this new short video on what EarthBaby does.
- The most convenient option as no prep of diapers before pick up is required. Just set out your soiled diapers in a compostable bag on your service day and EarthBaby will pick them up turn them into dirt in approximately 14 weeks!
- Please note, disposing of compostable or other “green” diapers in curbside trash service is not a sustainable solution. Materials in landfill are starved of oxygen, preventing anything from breaking down. Even compostable diapers will not decompose in landfills and will be intact in hundreds of years.
What is it?:
- Cloth diapers are often used with a diaper liner so there are no leaks.
- Cloth diapering can be a great way to support ‘potty learning’ since the baby can directly feel the wet diaper as urine does not instantly get soaked up like with single use diapers.
What you will need:
- Diaper inserts
- Diaper covers
- Clothespins or plastic clips (depending on the style you choose)
- Diaper pail
- Waterproof travel diaper bag for soiled diapers
- Laundry access or service (or hand wash)
- Clothes line (optional)
- OR a cloth diaper service
- A UK study comparing the life cycles of cloth versus single use plastic diapers (2008) concluded that they environmental impacts of using cloth diapers can be better or worse than single-use plastic diapers depending on how they are laundered.
- Laundry processes that can significantly decrease the environmental footprint are:
- Line drying outside whenever possible.
- Tumble drying as little as possible.
- When replacing appliances, choosing more energy efficient appliances
- Not washing above 140°F.
- Washing fuller loads.
- Reusing nappies on other children.
- As long as you wash your cloth diapers with gentle soap, this is a very healthy option for your baby as long as diapers are changed regularly (at least every 2 hours).
- Aside from Elimination Communication this can be very cost effective (if you maximize laundry use and reuse diapers without having to replace often and use for multiple children).
- Home washing would only incur the cost of the initial purchase of cloth diapers and covers, along with the laundering costs.
- A diaper service will make this more costly, around $25/week which includes the use of diapers, pick up of soiled diapers, and delivery of clean laundered diapers. You have to purchase and clean your own diaper covers.
- Not very convenient if home washing due to time prepping, pretreating, and running multiple laundry loads.
- A diaper service will eliminate much of the cleaning inconvenience. You can toss a soiled diaper into your bin until pick up and requires no rinsing/soaking.
- Traveling takes some preparation as you will have additional supplies to bring AND take home with you.
- Many daycares don’t allow cloth diaper use.
All of these diapering options are healthier for your baby and more sustainable for our environment than single use plastic diapers. You can find a good process and flow for your family’s needs! You can also try out different options to see what works. EarthBaby holds free Sustainable Diapering classes and can answer your questions in person. The next one will be held on Wednesday, September 5th at Natural Resources in San Francisco from 5:45-6:15. You can sign up here. The one after that is on November 7th at the same time and place.
If you are interested in using compostable diapers, give EarthBaby a try! Receive one free month of service and one free pack of diapers and wipes if you sign-up using code: PEARACHUTE.