By: Rachel O'Reilly
As any parent with a little one knows, the diaper changes are seemingly never-ending! Even so, it’s hard to believe that the average American baby will use 6,000 diapers before potty training. Even more crazy is that on a daily basis 49 million disposable diapers are used in the U.S. (in contrast, the U.K. uses 9 million, Japan uses 6.7 million, and Australia uses 2.2 million per day). In the U.S. alone, that adds up to 18 billion disposable, mostly toxic, diapers used each year!
If you imagine the amount of petroleum-based plastic and wood pulp that goes into manufacturing those billions of diapers, and then think about the super absorbent polymers and deodorizing chemicals many companies add to the mix… And, the fact that it takes 200-500 years for many diapers (Pampers, etc.) to decompose… It’s unfortunately an unsustainable nightmare!
Besides the environmental impacts, a study published in late 1999 by Anderson Laboratories found that lab mice exposed to various brands of disposable diapers experienced asthma-like symptoms, as well as eye, nose, and throat irritation. Cloth diapers did not cause respiratory symptoms.
The GOOD NEWS is that there are many earth friendly options that work! Check out our list of alternatives to toxic disposables that are healthier for baby and Mama Earth:
Reuseable Washable Diapers
Organic washable diapers are a great option that many parents easily find their routine with after a few trial runs… Many offer different types of washable inserts so you can find the one that works best for your baby:
The Natural Baby Co.: They have a few options- Mostly washable diapers
Oso Cozy: Fitted, organic, and washable
Bummis: Fitted organic and washable as well!
Pickup & Delivery Service for Washable and Compostable Diapers
If you’re concerned about the laundry with washable diapers, there are pickup and delivery services that will take care of the wash for you. If you choose to go with the compostable diaper option, there are great services that will deliver fresh diapers, and pick-up the used ones to ensure they’re properly composted and stay out of landfills! A quick google search for your local providers should yield results. Here’s a few options in Northern CA:
Tidee Didee: Delivery, pickup, and laundry service of cloth diapers
Tiny Tots: Provides delivery, pickup, and laundry service of cloth diapers as well as compostable diapers
Earth Baby: Delivery and pickup of compostable diapers
“Hybrid” Diapers: 1 part washable and 1 part insert
Some diaper designs offer a washable “shell” with a disposable insert. Most of these companies disposable inserts are biodegradable or less toxic than traditional disposables. Some even offer inserts that are compostable and/or plumbing safe that can be flushed away.
G-Diapers: Have a washable exterior pouch and the options of disposable, flushable, or compostable inserts
Flip Diapers: Include washable exterior pouch with washable organic cotton or disposable inserts
Non-toxic Disposable or Compostable Diapers
There are more options than ever (hooray!) for disposable and compostable diapers that are non-petroleum based and overall a more healthy option for baby and planet. Most of these companies offer subscription models so you never have to worry about being fully stocked. Some of our favorites include:
Broody Chick: Non-toxic and compostable diapers
7th Generation: FSC certified and free of chlorine and fragrances
Bambo Nature: Made of 75% biodegradable materials and are so hypoallergenic and free of toxins that they’re even certified gluten-free!
Parasol: Hypoallergenic, free of common toxic chemicals/ fragrances, and source wood pulp (used for the absorption layer) from sustainably managed forests in US and Sweden