The first thing my husband said when I told him we were cloth diapering was, “Yuck.” He had this idea of an old-school cloth that was full of crazy big horse poops or something (he had no idea what breastmilk poop was like!), and I convinced him quickly that cloth diapering was a lot easier than he thought. Particularly if you’re using an all-in-one, or a hybrid (all-in-two) diaper, it’s not much more work than flushing any solid waste, rinsing (or using a wet basket), washing and drying like you would normal laundry. Some mamas hang all their cloth diapers to dry, and I did when I needed to get breast milk poop stains out (the sun bleaches them!) but truly, most mamas who were apprehensive about cloth diapering preach about how easy it really is once you’ve got a system.
Everybody poops, or so the story goes. And newborns and babies tend to poop quite a bit, don’t they?
This means that in the beginning (and often in the end, but that’s another article for another day), you’ll be diapering your baby’s bum in significant quantities.
Diapering baby bums these days is almost a full-time job for most new mamas, and the options for diapers are pretty endless. Whether you choose cloth or disposable, you’re most likely overwhelmed with opinions and experiences from every mama you know. That’s the plus of a sisterhood of moms—we learn and grow together.
But if you’re just looking for a concise breakdown of diaper options, and some eco-friendly choices that are tried and true, look no further! We’ve combed our mama forums and talked with industry experts to help find the best eco-friendly diapers for every baby’s need.
The Case For Cloth
So, we’re not going to try and stand on both sides of the fence with the cloth/disposable diaper debate. Obviously, as natural-minded mamas who are concerned about our babies and Mother Earth, we look for natural options that leave low carbon imprint. The first thought when it comes to natural motherhood diaper options is cloth diapering, and with good reason.
From the time you bring that sweet bundle home to the time they’re training to use the big girl/boy potty, you’re likely to use almost 7,000 diapers. Yes, that’s exhausting just to think about, we know. Consider that traditional diapers range from anywhere between $.12-$.32 a diaper? You could be looking at nearly $2000 (or more) in diapers alone for your little party pooper. Alternatively, while the initial investment in cloth diapers may be daunting, choosing cloth diapers or hybrid diaper systems could cut those diaper costs in half (or more). And guess what? No one buys disposable diapers back, but check out how many mamas are interested in sharing the wealth when it comes to well-cared-for cloth diapers!
So when considering cloth diapering, consider the savings. Most mamas who cloth diaper from birth to d fully-trained guestimate they like to have a stash of 30-40 cloth all-in-one diapers. Now, obviously, that’s a personal number, and may depend on your baby’s needs. All-in-one diapers are essentially created to be just like a disposable, right down to the hook & loop (think Velcro), but washable and reusable. The best part about saving money with cloth is that so many mamas have so many different stashes, you’re able to buy well-loved used cloth diapers in small, affordable options. This means you can find what works best for your baby before investing tons of money. And, when you’re done (sniff, sniff) with diapering? They are often bought back for incredible resale values. When my little guy was born, I bought a handful of Kanga Lil’ Joey Rumparooz newborn diapers. He was itty bitty, and they were adorable, but he grew out of them pretty quickly. I stashed them away, hoping to use them for another baby, and forgot about them until my son was almost 4-years-old (and well out of diapers). We were not lucky enough to have any baby brothers or sisters for him, so I decided to sell my stash. In the five years since I’d bought those diapers, the pattern became in HIGH demand and I sold those diapers for four times what I paid for them! Yes, FOUR times, because people kept increasing their bids on eBay! I’m not saying every cloth diaper will make you your money back, but I am saying you have a rate of return that you can usually depend on if you take good care of your diapers.
Cloth Diapers Aren’t As Hard As You May Think They Are
Mother Earth Thanks You When You Consider Cloth Diapering
Think about how many diapers we told you your ONE child would accumulate. Now, multiply that by so, so, so many more children. Every year, enough disposable diapers are thrown away that could circle the globe over 90 times. That’s every year, mamas, and we’re running out of space for all those. When we use these convenient disposables all the time, we’re creating more waste for landfills. Cloth diapers will make Mother Earth so much happier because we’re reusing the same diapers, often many times in families with multiple children, and preventing so many diapers from ending up in the landfills.
And it’s not just the landfills we’re worried about. In the United States alone, it takes more than 200,000 trees a year to manufacture disposable diapers for babies. It also takes about 3.5 billion gallons of fuel oil to make diapers. Traditional disposable diapers deplete natural resources, including non-renewable energy sources. We can’t keep going at that pace, and that’s why we must start considering eco-friendly diapers if we’re using disposables.
The biggest take-away about cloth-diapering is that if you’re looking for eco-friendly diapers, they top the list.
The Case For Disposable Diapers: Eco-friendly Diapers Do Exist!
Think about how much of your baby’s life is spent in a diaper. We understand fully that cloth diapering, whether full-time or part-time, is not always feasible for every mama, no matter how much she would like it to be. Whether it’s career obligation, financial investment, convenience, daycare requirements, or family participation, we know that not every mama is cut out for cloth. No judging mamas, we promise.
But, when you’re using disposables, it’s imperative that you consider eco-friendly diapers for so many reasons. The most important reason you want to consider eco-friendly diapers is that they’re almost always better for your baby’s bum than a traditional/conventional disposable diaper. Aside from the adverse environmental impact that disposable diapers have, there are risks to your baby when wearing certain disposable diapers.
With many conventional and popular brands of disposables, there is risk of phthalate exposure. They’re used in the plastic, the glue, the dye…so many different parts of the diaper that your baby is exposed to. Phthalates can disrupt hormones, and endocrine function, so we’re particularly squeamish about them being so close to your baby’s genitals. When looking at eco-friendly diapers, you want to look at phthalate content for sure.
What Exactly Are Eco-Friendly Diapers?
So what exactly is an eco-friendly diaper (in the context of a disposable diaper, that is)? Eco-friendly diapers thankfully are becoming more and more the norm, and easier to find in mainstream shopping venues as compared to even ten years ago when you may be lucky to have a brand or two from which you could choose. Eco-friendly diapers are made as sustainably and responsibly as their companies can, with a focus on making a better brand of diaper for your baby and for the earth.
Eco-friendly diapers do their best to minimize carbon footprints, and to reduce risk exposures for babies who are wearing them. We know that since it’s not always feasible to cloth diaper, it’s vital that we have eco-friendly diapers as options for this generation of children we’re raising.
Eco-friendly diapers are not always organic, though it’s almost a given that if a diaper *is* made with organic materials, it’s eco-friendly and baby-friendly. Eco-friendly diapers stay away from chemicals and toxins that harm the environment and your child, and often the companies that make eco-friendly diapers have give-back programs that build the earth up as they’re taking care of your little one.
Related: The Politics of Diapers: a Timeline
The Best Eco-Friendly Diapers (Other Than Cloth) We’ve Found
DYPER bamboo diapers are responsibly made from sustainably sourced bamboo. They’re oh-so-soft on baby’s bottom, and they’re free of all the nasty chemicals that baby doesn’t need to have cradling her bottom. That means no chlorine, latex, alcohol, perfumes, PVC, lotions, TBT or Phthalates!
DYPER diapers are compostable. A traditional diaper takes up to 500 years to degrade (so it might as well be considered non-biodegradable) while DYPER works to be better. 61% of DYPER diapers break down in just 75 days.
And, like most products that we trust for our littles, DYPER disposables were created by a dad who was looking for better for his daughter. Founded in 2018 by Sergio Radovcic, he wanted to create a product that was made with responsibly sourced materials and that was free from everything risky for his daughter. More, he wanted them to be something that could be brought to the door of parents everywhere, and the subscription service was included. You simply subscribe to DYPER delivery and they appear on your door every month, taking the stress of diapers off the table.
And, DYPER works tirelessly in their carbon offset efforts, from diaper to delivery. They work to reforest protected forests in Peru, protecting nearly 450,000 acres from deforestation.
When Marlene Sandberg was a corporate lawyer with two young boys in the mid-1990s, she was appalled at the lack of eco-friendly options for diapers. Being saddened about the half a ton of used diapers a year in the Swedish environment alone, she knew that the plastics made from oil were also a massive burden on nature too. She knew there had to be a better way of making diapers, so she took five years and put hard work, development and solid research into a better diaper. She went from lawyer to ecological entrepreneur and Eco by Naty was born.
Sustainability and true eco-friendly practices are the foundation of Eco by Naty, and you can regularly check their development out. They were the first eco-friendly diapers to be OK Biobased Certified, from the OK Voncotte independent non-profit. That’s a highly respected credentialing organization, and they endorse because Eco by Naty uses FSC certified pulp and the highest quality ingredients without any of the toxins that will irritate your baby’s bum.
What I love about Eco by Naty is that they’ve been around for a while–since before being ‘eco-friendly’ was a ‘trendy’ thing, and when my little guy was day-trained early but still needed ‘pull-ups’ for night time, they had a clean, chlorine, toxin-free option.
Created by Steve and Jessica Hansen as they wanted to have something they could trust 100% of the time they used it on their little ones. They spent years researching and testing materials and they wanted to be sure that the quality and integrity of the manufacturing process were of the highest caliber. The bamboo plants they use to harvest fibers from are grown with no chemical fertilizers or pesticides and their eco-friendly diapers don’t have any of the toxins that can be irritants and dangers for young skin.
Bamboo is renewable and so soft, and biodegradable. The Hansen family is transparent in that their diapers are largely biodegradable–about 85% fully degrades in 75 days. To help strengthen durability, they do use some non-biodegradable (but chemical-free) parts.
But what we love about this family-run business is their commitment to community. They regularly support St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Buying Andy Pandy eco-friendly diapers means you too support that worthy cause.
We know that whatever diaper system you invest in, you want to do what’s best for your babe and your family. Whether it’s cloth diapers or eco-friendly diapers that offer a bit more convenience or fit your family’s needs better, there’s never been more options from which you can choose. More companies realize that diapering our babies’ bottoms doesn’t mean we have to forgo thought to the environment (or the effects of the materials of diapers on our babies) and eco-friendly diapers are quickly becoming a new norm. That’s good for all of us!
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