Looking for more eco friendly diapers? Here are 4 diaper companies that make compostable, biodegradable diapers.
Before I became a parent, I knew in theory that babies are sweet, squishy pee and poop machines. But I didn’t know how much pee and poop to expect. Nor did I really consider how many disposable diaper changes we’d do each day.
Despite their general adorableness, babies (and then toddlers) also create a lot of – uhhh – waste products.
And to keep all that waste in check, you’re going to need some diapers.
True, the advent of conventional disposable diapers was a huge win for convenience and freeing up of moms’ free time. However, it turns out the disposable diaper has come with some pretty big downsides as well.
Some of the chemicals used in conventional disposable diaper production aren’t so hot for the environment, to say the least. And they’re not exactly great news when smooshed up against your baby’s nether regions, either. Besides the chemicals used, some of the materials used in conventional diapers are a downright disaster for the earth.
My Top Picks for Biodegradable Diapers
Just here for the good poop? Here are the 4 best compostable and biodegradable diapers I could find.
- DYPER™ – a biodegradable diaper that will do the composting for you! Available as a subscription only, which saves you money. Their additional REDYPER™ subscription service allows you to send the diapers back for composting, ensuring they are disposed of responsibly. DYPER™ has been independently tested to be 61% biodegraded by day 75. Costs between $0.26 and $0.56 per diaper. Add $0.15 to $0.33 per diaper to have REDYPER™ pick up the diapers, compost them, and distribute the soil responsibly.
- Eco Pea – Using 85% biodegradable materials, they have been tested to be over half degraded in just a few months. Costs $0.35 and $0.68 based on my back of the napkin math. However, you have to figure out composting and disposal on your own.
- Andy Pandy – Made from a minimum of 85% biodegradable materials. $0.40 to $0.52 per diaper. Composting and disposal not provided by the company.
- Nest Diapers – Made from 64% biodegradable diapers. Cost is $0.48 to $0.60 per diaper. Composting and disposal not provided by the company, however they are working on this through partnerships.
What’s Wrong with Disposable Diapers?
Estimates about babies’ lifetime diaper use range in the area of 5000 to 7000 diapers. That means your little one will use 5000 to 7000 diapers until potty trained. And then, of course, there’s a period of overnights for many kids. Whatever the exact number, anyone who’s ever packed a diaper bag for a day out knows its a lot!
Each of those 5000+ diapers will take 500 years to decompose.
Let’s assume an average American lifespan of 80 years. Given that, it won’t be until your baby’s great-great-great-great grandkids’ life that your kiddo’s diapers will be gone from the landfill!
And then of course there’s the processes involved in making conventional diapers, which aren’t what I’d call benign. And the baby wipes, many of which contain non biodegradable plastic.
What are Some Eco Friendlier and Biodegradable Diapers?
What’s a green-minded parent who wants to make better choices for the earth to do? In the past, your choice was limited to cloth diapers.
Nowadays, there are a number of smaller companies challenging the dominance of Big Diaper. These companies are engineering more eco friendly disposable diapers. And some of them are really cool.
These eco friendly diapers range in how eco friendly they are. To be honest, some of them still aren’t great and seem to be riding a marketing wave.
But some of the new generation of disposable diapers actually are better for the environment. Way better.
These include biodegradable diapers that you can compost (amazing!). It also includes eco-friendlier brands. These brands aren’t biodegradable. But they invest in making their products and manufacturing better with things like sustainably sourced materials, eschew yucky stuff like chlorine and phthalates, and use plant based ingredients where possible.
The 4 Best Brands of Eco Friendlier and Biodegradable Diapers
Say hello to DYPER™. Plant-based, disposable diapers that are suitable for sensitive skin, fragrance free, and biodegradable.
In my opinion, DYPER™ disposable diapers are the most eco friendly diapers on the market. (I’m comparing disposable diapers here, not cloth diapers).
DYPER™ represents a bit of a revolution when it comes to eco friendly disposable diapers for your baby. That’s because they make a compostable, biodegradable diaper. And they also take care of the composting for you through their REDYPER™ subscription service.
Until recently, compostable and biodegradable diapers were just a dream, but DYPER™ seems to have figured it out.
As with other eco friendly diapers, DYPER™ are free of the bad stuff parents know to look for. They’re fragrance free, and free of chlorine, phthalates, latex, alcohol, lotions, dyes and tributyltin. All good for keeping baby’s skin happy!
Plus, they come in different sizes and styles, including XL, in case you’re in the middle of a baby peeing through diaper situation (we’ve all been there!).
But what’s really exciting about DYPER™ is the fact that they have cracked the biodegradable diapers code. They make disposable diapers that don’t end up in the landfill.
DYPER™ doesn’t expect you to take their word for it. Independent firm SGS confirms their diapers are compostable. In fact, they’re 61% biodegraded by day 75.
REDYPER™ Does the Diaper Composting for You
When you subscribe to DYPER™, you can also subscribe to their REDYPER™ service for an additional subscription fee. With REDYPER™, you send your used biodegradable diapers back to DYPER™’s composting partner, TerraCycle. TerraCycle disposes of them responsibly, rather than sending them to the landfill.
When TerraCycle receives the diapers, it checks them in and aggregates them, then moves them to a compost facility. There, they are placed in a hot commercial compost, which typically takes between three to six months — depending on the mixture — to be safe to use for vegetation growth purposes.Greenbiz.com
This partnership is what really sets DYPER™ apart for me.
REDYPER™ makes it easy for parents to do the right thing. And it lets you rest a bit easier. You can feel good knowing your baby’s diapers aren’t contributing to a massive ecological debt. And you don’t have to worry about finding industrial composters in your area. (Municipal composters don’t take diapers, and diapers aren’t suitable for home compost due to biohazard concerns).
What’s Inside DYPER™?
DYPER™’s compostable disposable diapers are made from bamboo viscose and other materials. You can see exactly what they’re made of here (scroll down to the Transparent Construction section).
They’re packaged in oxo-degradable materials which, while not perfect, is a step in the right direction.
And the diapers are Standard 100 certified by OEKO TEX.
If you’re worried about carbon associated with the shipping, know that DYPER™ purchases carbon offsets to support reforestation.
DYPER™ is only available as a subscription, which makes them fairly economical as far as premium, eco friendly diapers go. At the time of writing, they cost between $0.26 and $0.56 per diaper, depending on size.
Without your subscription, you can fine tune how many diapers you need based on your family’s diapering style. For example, families doing Elimination Communication will need fewer diapers. As will those doing a combo of cloth diapers and disposables, or are close to achieving potty training.
Runner Up – Eco Pea
Like DYPER™, Eco Pea has a great thing going with their diapers.
They’re also made of bamboo, which is sustainable and biodegradable.
And Eco Pea also has independent testing to confirm biodegradability. Third-party tester SGS found Eco Pea diapers are over half degraded in just a few months!
Eco Pea’s diapers are not 100% biodegradable – they use 85% biodegradable materials.
Their wipes, however, are 100% biodegradable. This is huge, since most wipes contain plastic, and therefore live in a landfill for years.
Eco Pea’s natural diapers are hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, totally chlorine free and suitable for sensitive skin. Despite all this, they’re also soft for your baby’s sensitive skin. And they come with bells and whistles that make parenting easier (hello, wetness indicator!).
Eco Pea’s shipping process is carbon neutral, and their diapers ship in biodegradable packaging.
Purchase as a one-time purchase or subscribe for a 20% discount.
Runner Up – Andy Pandy Bamboo Diapers
Andy Pandy also makes a biodegradable diaper option that is almost all biodegradable – around 85%. The elastic in the waistband and around the legs, velcro taped tabs, and absorbent SAP are the non-biodegradable parts.
Andy Pandy diapers use a non-woven bamboo top and back sheet made of 100% bamboo fiber. The inner layer is made of fluff pulp and Sumitomo SAP for absorbency.
And they’re free from the stuff you want to avoid, like chlorine, alcohol, preservatives, phthalates, latex, PVC, TBT, and antioxidants.
Runner Up – Nest Diapers
Nest diapers are made of a bamboo top sheet and back sheet. The core is a combination of fluff and SAP.
While Nest doesn’t make a 100% biodegradable diaper, they are pretty good at 64% biodegradable.
That said, Nest has really cool photographs on their website showing their diapers being composted over 110 days. It’s impressive!
Best of the Rest: Eco Friendly Diapers that Aren’t Biodegradable
However, there are some other eco friendlier diaper brands out there, too, if they don’t suit your needs.
Eco by Naty makes a range of sustainable diapers, wipes, tampons and pads, and bath and skin care. When it comes to diapering, they offer disposable diapers that use natural plant-based materials up against your baby’s skin. Or, as the company puts it, no oil-based plastic up against your baby’s skin. Their absorbent cores use 100% FSC certified wood pulp and SAP.
My main problem with Eco by Naty is transparency. While they tell you what their diapers aren’t made of, they don’t tell you exactly what they are made of. At least, they don’t as far as I can tell.
Bambo Nature often makes it on these lists, as they’re free from harmful chemicals and fragrances and allergens. They also use sustainable manufacturing processes.
But the diapers themselves aren’t biodegradable. The outer layer is made of polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) – both plastic. The topsheet (the part that is against your baby’s skin) is also made of PP.
Like Bambo Nature, these use PP and PE to make up the diaper. Therefore not biodegradable. That said, they’re free of harmful chemicals, and have some features I like. They’re made in a “zero waste to landfill” facility, aren’t tested on animals, use limited printing and non-toxic water based inks, and are allergen free.
How Are Biodegradable Diapers Made?
Disposable diapers have 3 main layers, regardless of the manufacturer. Taken together, all 3 layers will impact how sustainable the diaper will be, or whether it’s biodegradable.
Inner Layer / Top Sheet
The inner layer is the part of the diaper that sits against baby’s skin. Because it’s right up against your baby’s skin and genitals, the chemicals, materials, fragrances, etc. used in this part of the diaper are of top concern. Especially for parents who want a natural and non toxic diaper.
Unbelievably, some diaper manufacturers aren’t transparent in this regard. To me, this is a deal breaker.
This is another reason DYPER™ is my top choice. The company does a lot in terms of transparency. In particular, their website has a great graphic showing materials in each layer. I also like that they achieved Standard 100 certified by OEKO TEX safety certification.
This is the “inner bits” of the diaper, and really makes up the bulk. It absorbs the liquid from your baby’s pee and poop. And it works to keep the liquid in the diaper, rather than leaking onto your baby’s skin.
Some kind of fluff (typically wood pulp) and Super Absorbant Polymer (SAP) typically make up the absorbent core. The pulp distributes liquid across the diaper. The SAP, a chemical crystal or gel, absorbs the liquid and locks it in.
Waterproof Outer Layer/Back Sheet
Conventional diapers often use a plastic outer layer or back sheet.
What to Look for When Buying Eco Friendly and Biodegradable Diapers
I think the 4 listed above (my winners) are all fairly good choices. And they’re certainly a far cry better than the big brands you’re going to find in the supermarket. If you’re still unsure, here are a few more things to consider.
- Has the diaper undergone independent third-party testing regarding biodegradability? All of my top 4 have undergone this process.
- Do you live near an industrial composting facility that you could send the diapers to? In the United States, Do Good Diapers picks up compostable diapers for $34 per month. They serve Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Twin Cities Metro, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. If you don’t live near a facility that composts diapers, consider signing up for DYPER™ and REDYPER™. They’ll take care of the process for you, across the US!
What to Avoid When Buying Biodegradable Diapers
Really, you’re looking for fairly standard red flags. Anything you don’t want next to your genitals? Probably not great for your baby’s either!
However, when it comes to diapers you have the added consideration of diaper rash.
Not surprisingly to followers of this blog, some of the chemicals in conventional diapers can actually make diaper rash worse.
In doing research for this post, I found plenty of parent testimonials who switched from conventional disposable diaper brands to biodegradable or eco friendlier diapers. And in doing so, their kids’ diaper rash vanish.
Turns out all those chemicals aren’t so hot for baby’s skin! Here are a few red flags to be on the lookout for.
- Dye – Dye is an unnecessary additional step for diapers, and it comes with negative consequences for the environment. Look for dye free or diapers that use water-based and non toxic dyes only.
- Fragrance – I’ve written a fair bit about fragrance and phthalates. Generally speaking, it’s poorly regulated and comes with health risks. Best avoided.
- Chlorine – chlorine whitens the materials in disposable diapers. Unfortunately, the process leaves dioxins as trace materials, which are bad news. To keep your baby from being exposed to dioxins, use diapers that are totally chlorine free.
- Plastic – Plastic isn’t biodegradable, and therefore, whenever you can minimize it, you’re making a good choice for the environment.
What About Cloth Diapers?
The disposable vs. cloth diapers is a huge dilemma for most eco-focused parents. You can choose to use one or the other, or both in varying degrees.
If the guilt of disposables has you down, try to choose mostly biodegradable diapers. Importantly, also ensure you have a way to dispose of them responsibly. Unfortunately landfills lack oxygen, so even biodegradable diapers will take longer to degrade in a landfill. The best solution is to send them to a industrial composting facility, availability of which varies by location.
Note there’s no perfect solution, even environmental advocacy groups admit as such. Our philosophy is to do the best we can.
Final Thoughts About Choosing Compostable/ Biodegradable Diapers
Either way, these seem like solid choices for biodegradable diapers, and much better than conventional disposable diapers.