Naples Compost is an affiliate of Amazon and Dyper. All opinions are our own.
Diapering is a necessary part of having a child – for at least two years! The effort and money alone are enough to make you shudder, but the environmental impacts are even harder to face. Disposable diapers, one of the most popular choices among parents, account for 2 percent of garbage produced in the United States.
That’s a staggering amount considering how much waste is generated by Americans. In fact, according to the Clean Air Council, we throw away 49 million diapers a day.
Deep breaths. Yes, it’s a lot. Especially knowing it could take several lifetimes for just the biodegradable parts of a diaper to decompose. The whole diaper never will. But! You can start making a change now by choosing environmentally friendly diapers.
Are diapers compostable?
The short answer to the question, “Are diapers compostable?” is no. Most brands of diapers are not compostable due to the plastic and chemicals.
However, if you buy the right brand of diapers you can compost them!
This doesn’t mean you can take your compostable diapers and toss them in your at-home compost bin. Instead, you would need to take them to a commercial or industrial composting facility. It also doesn’t mean you can toss biodegradable diapers in with your regular trash and allow them to breakdown in a landfill. In fact, the answer is pretty complicated.
With Dyper, the answer is absolutely yes.
Their diapers are made using fibers from responsibly sourced bamboo making it compostable. If you don’t have a composting facility nearby, you can sign up for REDYPER through TerraCycle, which is a service that will pick up your used diapers and compost them the right way.
How do you compost diapers?
You can actually compost the inner lining of standard diapers. While this is a cool thing to do on your own, Naples Compost does not currently accept the inner lining of standard diapers.
However, if you’re interested in composting at home, you can separate the outside lining of the diaper and compost the inside components. Only do this with wet diapers! You do not want to introduce human fecal matter into your garden or compost bin.
Once you’ve torn the diaper open, the insides can be added to your compost. I recommend wearing gloves and doing this outside! The rest of the diaper will need to be thrown away. Tricky, messy and only composting a portion of the diaper.
Again, the easiest way for you to compost your diapers is to sign up for truly compostable diapers, like with Dyper, and then dispose of the used diapers at a composting facility or by using the pickup service offered by Dyper.
At this point you might be wondering if diapers are truly biodegradable? Let’s take a look.
Are any diapers biodegradable?
Ah the biodegradable diaper! What a great solution, right? Well. There are many biodegradable diapers on the market to choose from, but you need to use a keen eye when seeking out your brand. Many diaper brands tend to use terms like “made with plant-based materials” as buzzwords that make you think they are biodegradable.
Using plant-based materials is great for when you want to reduce your carbon footprint and use more natural materials for your baby’s bum, but it doesn’t mean wholly biodegradable. Most diapers use sodium polyacrylate as the absorbent chemical, which will not decompose.
Even if most (remember, not all!) of the diaper does biodegrade, it can take decades and release methane gas as it sits in the landfill decomposing. I’m not knocking diapers made with plant-based materials at all! It’s a great way to pursue sustainability. But sustainability is not the same as reducing waste through composting.
Which is why your best bet is to look for compostable diapers.
What are the best compostable diapers?
There are several brands out there that have compostable diapers, but I highly recommend Dyper. Not only are the diapers free of harsh chemicals, they fit comfortably and stand the test of absorption with no leaks! Dyper is the only diaper brand that markets themselves as compostable. Many other brands might seem compostable, but may have hidden ingredients if the brand isn’t advertising as a compostable diaper.
Dyper diapers are made with woven viscose made from 100% bamboo and even come packaged in oxo-degradable materials. You can sign up for a commitment-free subscription, which saves you 15% right off the bat!
What are the most environmentally friendly diapers?
Deciding what are the most environmentally friendly diapers really depends on your definition of environmentally friendly.
Cloth diapers usually take the cake for being the most eco-friendly since they can be used over and over again, even passed down through several children.
Diapers like Honest, Seventh Generation and Bamboo Nature offer sustainably manufactured diapers by using plant-based materials and skipping harsh chemicals and fragrances. This is great A) for your baby and in some cases B) great for the environment in regard to both the materials used and those avoided.
But when it comes to reducing landfill waste, biodegradable diapers aren’t going to change the world.
The better option would be to keep diapers out of the landfill to begin with by choosing cloth diapers or a compostable option.
Are biodegradable diapers better for the environment?
Biodegradable diapers aren’t better for the environment because they don’t break down well in landfills. In fact, nothing degrades well in a landfill. If all biodegradable diapers were processed in a composting facility, it’s better.
But still, the absorbent materials used commercially aren’t going to compost well, unless you use a truly compostable diaper or opt for cloth diapers (check out our favorites below- from a mom who cloth diapered two kiddos).
What’s better – biodegradable diapers, compostable diapers or cloth diapers?
Whether biodegradable, compostable or cloth diapers are better is a hotly debated topic. On one hand, you have the argument against biodegradable – they don’t break down well in a landfill, which adds to an already problematic waste situation. But then in the pro disposable (whether biodegradable, compostable or not) diaper camp, you have those arguing that the production and cleaning of cloth diapers uses a ton of water.
It really depends on what matters most to you – eliminating waste issues or sustainable products. There is a slight nod towards cloth diapers are being most environmentally conscious, but at the end of the day, it’s half a dozen on either side.
Dyper seems to straddle the line well, though. With sustainably made diapers that are compostable (and even provides a compost service if you don’t have a facility nearby) you’re reaping the most benefits out of diapering your child in an environmentally positive way!
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