Does this sound like you?
“I wanted to cloth diaper guys, I really did. Cute prints, zero waste—I was pretty sold on the idea…riiiight up until we started to realize the reality of washing dirty diapers in hotel laundry rooms and sketchy laundromats.”
Fair. Some people just won’t ever do cloth diapers. And that’s OK.
But you still feel guilty because you know the environmental impacts of using disposable diapers is huge—holy landfills, Batman, are they big.
After all, it can take up to 500 YEARS for diapers to decompose. And besides containing a lot of plastics and petroleum products that never really break down, you also know there are also a lot of artificial fragrances and moisture absorbing chemicals that, ironically, are really bad about causing rashes on little bums.
Yeesh, you can’t win for losing sometimes.
So we set out in search of some hypoallergenic, biodegradable disposable diapers, that will ease your achy breaky environmental hearts (Go you! The planet needs us more than ever).
And while were on the subject, check out our top pics for reusable swim diapers.
Why Choose Eco-Friendly Disposable Diapers
Choosing environmentally friendly products isn’t just for hippies. And there are more reasons to opt-out of buying traditional diapers than just your environmental footprint.
You could choose to cloth diaper your baby, like we did. But depending on your lifestyle, childcare, and laundry situation, that might not be practical.
So the next best thing is natural disposables. Consider these benefits of biodegradable diapers instead of traditional.
#1. Eco-Friendly is Gentler on Sensitive Baby Skin
There’s a reason why there’s such thing as specific laundry detergent, a million ointments and creams, and gentle soaps for babies. It’s because they’re rashy little things.
Baby skin is so new and fresh that it’s sensitive. Prone to breakouts, spots and bumps, baby skin hasn’t had the chance to develop callouses or tough spots. That’s why it’s so soft!
And traditional disposable nappies are chock full of chemicals that can irritate that soft, beautiful baby skin. Like what? Glad you asked.
P&G, the parent company of Pampers, lost a lawsuit in 2010 for using chemicals in their diapers that caused chemical burns and extreme diaper rash on some of the poor babies that were wearing them.
The chemicals in traditional diaper brands span from:
- sodium polyacrylate
- toluene (used in explosives, gasoline, glues and contact cements)
- ethylbenzene (used in pesticides, jet fuel and rust prevention products)
- styrene (present in automotive chemicals, sealants and vinyl flooring)
- dipentene (used in hair color, home cleaning products, and pesticides).
#2. Natural is More Comfortable
Ever wear a thick, polyester dress to sightsee in the Chicago humidity in the middle of the summer? No, just me?
You’ll just have to trust me when I say that synthetic materials can be incredibly uncomfortable. Imagine being a baby and having to sit in wet plastic underpants most of the day!
Natural fibers are generally more breathable, comfortable materials, and most (though definitely not all) biodegradable brands make their diapers out of bamboo, cotton, and plant-based fillers.
Sounds much more comfortable than plastic, right?
#3. Reducing Your Environmental Footprint
I’d be remiss to write about the benefits of choosing natural without mentioning the environmental impact.
Those of us who put biodegradable disposables on our registries may have had some friends or family members refer to you as “crunchy” or “granola.”
That’s because the best-known and most widely accepted benefit of using eco-friendly instead of traditional nappies is the environment.
Not only do traditional disposable diapers take 500 years to decompose, but an estimated that Americans use 27.4 billion diapers each year, 92% of which end up in landfills.
So that’s around 25.2 billion diapers every single year hitting the landfills in the USA alone. Over 25 billion diapers that take 500 years to decompose.
Biodegradable vs. Traditional Diapers: Cost Difference
Many people decide against going eco-friendly when diapering their wee ones because of the notion that eco-friendly products are more expensive.
And I'm not going to lie. This is generally true. If your budget is super tight and you're squeezed financially as it is, you might want to stick with the Pampers (or cloth!).
But I wanted to explore exactly how much more expensive eco-friendly is from traditional disposable diapers. So I did the research.
The prices below are what the companies list on Amazon. They could change, but more or less they'll likely remain similar.
Price Per Diaper
|Eco by Naty||0.45|
|Earth + Eden||0.23|
|Huggies Little Movers||0.28|
The average newborn to six-month-old baby goes through around 9 diapers per day, so around 270 per month. If you were to buy Pampers, you'd spend just under $65 on diapers.
However, if you were to choose, say, the Babyganics brand at 0.33/diaper, you'd be looking at around $89, which is about $24 more per month.
So, yes, generally speaking, you'll spend more on gentler products. This isn't always the case, as you can see with Earth + Eden above. But even if you're spending a bit more, I say it's worth it for the benefits.
What to Look For In Biodegradable Diapers
The market for all things baby is OVERWHELMED with labels like “green” and “all natural”, and it’s crazystupid hard to tell which ones are full of it and which ones are legit.
Here are a few things I looked for when shopping biodegradable diapers:
Because hot damn, do babies need a lotta diapers.
We wanted something that was as hypoallergenic and eco-friendly as possible.
If it doesn’t hold the poop, it’s not makin’ it into my diaper bag.
The Top 7 Best Biodegradable Diapers
These are some of the most affordable and eco-friendly diapers you can buy at around $0.23/diaper. While they don't specifically say they are biodegradable, Earth + Eden diapers are made sustainably and made with SFI Certified sustainably sourced fluff. The cute prints use non-toxic water-based inks and all of this brands products are produced in a zero waste to landfill facility, so they're far more eco-friendly than most.
Okay, I’m just gonna say it—the price on these is definitely more than your average diaper. At $0.56/diaper, a 32 pack of these will cost you around 20 bucks. Yowza.
Still though, these are easily the most eco-friendly diapers I’ve ever seen. 100% biodegradable and with NO petroleum-based products, these are super duper hypoallergenic and gentle on the planet, and they’re actually pretty decent at catching excrement, too (SCORE).
This is a good and reasonably priced diaper (at $0.35/diaper) that fits really well and comes in a TON of adorable prints and patterns. Honest Diapers are also made of wheat and corn materials. Heads up though—they’re not 100% biodegradable because of the spandex and petrochemicals used in them, and a lot of parents report issues with leaky poos. Yikes.
I wanted to 1,000% love these babyganics diapers because they are just so stinking affordable at $0.25/diaper. While they’re SUPER soft and fit pretty well, though, they’re also notorious for leaks and blowouts, and I was a little skeeved out by how little information was available on what was actually IN them.
“Plant-based materials”—whatever that means.
Another diaper that’s certified for its hypoallergenic materials, Bambo Nature diapers are FANTASTIC for babies with sensitive skin. They’re fragrance and latex-free, though the packaging doesn’t specify whether they use chlorine (something I’m kind of particular about). These diapers are made of wheat starch and are SUPER soft, but are a little spendy at $0.47/diaper.
Okay, so I’m gonna level with you here—these diapers have a green leaf on them, and that makes them about that much greener than a pack of Pampers Swaddlers. It’s the kind of diaper you love before you scratch the surface. They’re $0.35/diaper, so that’s reasonable enough, and the core is free from chlorine and fragrances.
That said, these diapers are notorious for shedding gel beads all over your baby’s bum, leak like CRAZY, and are still crazy rough and scratchy, despite being so very, erm, inorganic.
Green is way too broad of a term these days, and picking through the BS to find brands that actually put their money where their mouth is is tricky—but there are a few.
Decide how much you’re willing to spend and how far you’ll go for biodegradable diapers, but rest assured, the people have spoken, and the Diaper Making Demigods are finally starting to listen.