Finding the best eco friendly diapers is still a sore subject for many. Where feces is involved many go running for the hills thanking the disposable gods for the terribly wasteful conventional options that are now ubiquitous in many parts of the world.
But there are now several alternatives of equal quality with a much lighter environmental footprint. So I’ve rounded up some of the best eco friendly diapers you can reach for, that are better for the planet and for baby too.
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What's the problem with diapers?
An estimated 4.1 million tons of disposable diapers are discarded every year. And that’s just an estimate for the US. Of that, American babies under one year old generate around 1 trillion diapers a year.
As stinky as diapers can be, this amount of waste is very difficult to reconcile if you consider that most of this waste just winds up piling up in landfills and contributing to the global waste problem. That’s if it gets to a landfill at all, and not in our ecosystems.
Conventional disposable diapers are also made using synthetic materials (like polyacrylate stuffing); much of which are harmful and not biodegradable. You’ll find they contain small amounts of dioxins for example; which can leach out and enter ecosystems when diapers are not properly disposed of. Dioxins are also carcinogenic and considered highly toxic according to the EPA.
Other undesirables include lots of plastics (or polymers) which take hundreds of years to degrade; tributyltin (TBT) which is considered poisonous to marine life and humans; and phthalates which are linked to adverse health effects including hormone disruptions, lung function issues, and reproductive issues.
Probably best to find some safer alternatives and fast.
Cloth Diapers vs. disposable diapers, which are better?
When it comes to the cloth or disposable diaper debate, each has its pros and cons. Cloth diapers are reusable, which translates to a lot less waste in landfills; though disposable diapers are very convenient. The thing is, cloth diapers will save you money over time too; where you will spend $300 rather than $2,000 on disposable diapers in the same timespan.
If you choose cloth diapers, they should be made of organic natural materials like organic cotton, hemp, or bamboo, which will also mean they are biodegradable; unlike most conventional disposable options. Although, you can find biodegradable disposable nappies, more on that later.
Cloth diapers are also water and energy hogs, where they are laundered using a washing machine or a nappy pick-up service. But that is no challenge to the mounds of waste generated by conventional disposable options.
Really there is no doubt that cloth diapers are better for the environment though they require a little more TLC than their disposable counterparts; even when they are not entirely biodegradable.
However, we are not here to argue for cloth diapers or for a zero waste baby, so let’s get into what else you need to know to make the right choice based on your needs.
Shopping for eco friendly diapers can be tricky - Here's what to look for:
As you would for your baby clothes and baby toys, check out the materials used to make the safest and most environmentally friendly choice in diapers. Whether you’re going for cloth or disposables, the best thing to do is to opt for plant-based materials like organic cotton, hemp, or bamboo. It’s also best if they are certified organic by a third-party certification like the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
Make sure to avoid any harmful chemicals by looking out for diapers that are free of phthalates, parabens, tributyltin (TBT), and chlorine; or fragrances and lotions.
When choosing anything from organic baby shampoo and clean beauty products to natural laundry detergent and organic baby blankets, we also want to make sure that materials used are sourced ethically; to avoid any unsustainable or unethical practices at any stage of the supply chain.
From the way raw materials are farmed to the people who transform them into the final product we get to buy, I always favor companies that care to minimize the impact of their manufacturing processes on the environment, and who ensure their workers are treated fairly.
Brands that go above and beyond to help with environmental issues and to support their employees and the community at large are also at the top of my list.
Our top recommendations for the best eco friendly diapers
Mother & Nature is a Canadian brand offering eco-friendly baby and parent goods, zero-waste lifestyle products, and affordable curated clothing. There you’ll find several cloth diaper packages and accessories, including swim diapers, travel wet bags, and pail liners.
Although their diapers are made using synthetic materials, they still make for a better alternative than conventional diapers. Designed to be adjustable for flexible sizing, with a ton of cute prints to choose from, definitely check out Mother & Nature for your eco diaper needs.
Price Range: $15 - $20 (Single Purchase)
$200 - $500 (Packs)
Mother-ease is a family-run business offering a range of the most innovative cloth diapers on the market; all manufactured in Ontario, Canada; using 100% green energy. Fabrics used include Stay Dry (a high-tech polyester fabric), Natural Cotton Terry, and a GOTS certified Organic Cotton Terry.
Tried and tested on several generations of the founder's own family, you can trust that their convenient, reliable and leak-free cloth diapers make for some of the best eco friendly diapers.
Price Range: $13 - $35 (Single Purchase)
$180 - $396 (Packages)
3. Eco Pea
Eco Pea is a US brand on a mission to offer the best biodegradable diapers and eco-friendly wipes they possibly can. Made using biodegradable bamboo sheets, their hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested diapers make a great option for more eco friendly diapers. They also make sure to omit any fragrances, harsh chemicals, and chlorine; perfect for sensitive skin. With a luxuriously soft feel and carbon neutral shipping there are lots to love over at Eco Pea. Their bamboo biodegradable diapers are also made using environmental protection water-based ink, are extremely absorbent, and the packaging is biodegradable as well.
Price Range: $15 - $85 (Single Purchase)
$12 - $72 (Subscriptions)
Founded by two parents, Ecoriginal is an Australian company offering some of the best eco-friendly disposable diapers and wipes out there. After more than a decade of research and development, their diapers are made of over 90% plant-based ingredients, and they are committed to reaching 100% biodegradability.
Using in-home compostable packaging for their products, they’ve also made sure their wipes will break down in landfills in case you cannot compost at home, so be sure to check that out as well. The first to offer a genuine biodegradable alternative, Ecoriginals is also the first plastic neutral diaper company.
Price Range: $40 - $180 (Single Purchase)
$60 - $110 (Subscriptions)
An American baby and beauty store, The Honest Company is on a mission to create safe, effective products for their families and ours. When it comes to babies, they make sure to err on the side of caution by avoiding any chemicals of concern. As such, their Clean Conscious Diapers are made using plant-based materials and help to save over 7,000 trees a year.
The wood used to make the core of their sustainable diapers is harvested from sustainably managed pine and spruce trees in Scandinavia and then turned into fluff pulp using chlorine-free processing so you can be sure there are no dioxins here. No latex, fragrance, or parabens in these non-toxic diapers either.
Price Range: $11 - $50 (Single Purchase)
$80 - $97 (Subscriptions)
GroVia offers eco-friendly cloth diapers developed by the Natural Baby Company. Their goal is to provide products of the highest quality that are also healthy and environmentally friendly. Their sustainable diaper options include an All In One Organic Cloth Diaper made from Organic Cotton for the inner diaper and a Polyester TPU lined with Organic Cotton for the outer diaper.
You will also find their Hybrid Cloth Diapers system in several lovely colors and prints, as well as accessories and guides on how to use cloth diapers and launder them. For the latter, you might also need to know how to air dry your clothes even in the winter.
Price Range: $10 - $29 (Single Purchase)
A Swedish brand, Naty offers a wide range of eco-friendly essentials for babies including Eco Diapers, Eco Pull-On Pants, and even 100% compostable disposal bags. Their Eco Diapers are breathable and made from bio-based materials like 100% certified FSC wood pulp; with absolutely no plastics sourced from fossil fuels.
Naty also ensures that their diapers are free of VOCs, fragrance, parabens, HAP, and latex; and the packaging used is also made of renewable materials. Vegan and OEKO-TEX® certified, Naty’s Eco Diapers make a fine option for more eco-friendly diapers.
Price Range: $11 - $15 (Single Purchase)
$40 - $78 (Subscriptions)
8. Nest Diapers
Nest Baby Diapers makes its diapers using biodegradable materials like wood, cotton and others derived from renewable resources. Their eco-friendly diapers are also OEKO-TEX® certified so you can be sure there are no toxic ingredients, perfumes, or known allergens in there.
With a commitment to reducing the long-term impact of disposable diapers, Nest has partnered with leading baby diaper compost providers and is finalizing the process of making Nest Baby Diapers compostable in municipal/industrial facilities.
Price Range: $12 - $13 (Single Purchase)
$56 - $60 (Case)
A final word on eco friendly diapers
Whether you are on a zero-waste journey or making the switch to more sustainable living, there is sure to be a more environmentally friendly diaper for you. If you opt for cloth diapers, there are some great zero-waste laundry detergents to help with that.
For more sustainable baby essentials you can also check out a few of my favorite Canadian sustainable baby brands, and don’t forget about momma. There are some great ethical organic maternity clothing brands out there for her too.