Are Disposable Diapers Eco-Friendly?: 4 Things You Should Consider

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Walking into any big-box store with a baby care section, you’ll notice one seemingly ever-expanding area: disposable diapers.

Up until 1980, disposable diapers weren’t the go-to choice for parents. Instead, Moms, Dads, and caregivers utilized cloth diapers, rinsing out, washing, and hang-drying their children’s diapers after each use.

Then enter the 80s, and households began shifting to disposable diapers. At the start of the decade, disposable diapers were being used in 90% of households, saving parents time and laundry expenses in the process.

According to a 2014 environmental impact report, throughout a baby’s diaper-wearing lifetime, they will go through between 5,000 and 7,000 diapers. And the Environmental Protection Agency reported that around 7% of non-durable household waste found in the landfill is compromised of disposable diapers.

Unfortunately, the household, easily recognizable, big brands are made up of plastics that you may not necessarily want your baby wearing.

And while cloth diapers may be more eco-friendly when it comes to waste, that’s offset by the increase of water and detergent you’ll be using.

But, not all is lost. You don’t need to start buying cloth diapers if the thought of adding more items to your laundry pile instantly gives you anxiety.

1. Find brands with a commitment to sustainability.

Any brand can say they’re being eco-conscious, but if they’re using vague statements and aren’t divulging the how behind their sustainability, chances are it’s just a marketing gimmick. When I search for eco-friendly companies, I pay attention to their packaging. If a product claims to be good for the environment, but they wrap the product in the same plastic every other brand uses, what is the true impact of their choices?

Seeing businesses committed to sustainability all the way down to their packaging, opting for sustainably sourced and recyclable packing really speaks to the good that they’re aiming to do.

2. This includes what materials they’re using.

There’s a push toward plant-based products. It’s not a new fad. Chances are the clothes you’re currently wearing contain cotton.

So why can’t cotton be used in disposable diapers? The answer is: it can!

Not only is cotton more eco-friendly, but it’s also proven to be hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin. Is your little one prone to diaper rash? Their bottoms may be being irritated by their diaper.

Currently, the disposable diaper brand Kudos is the only disposable diaper to hold the cotton natural™ seal from Cotton Incorporated. That’s because the only material touching babies’ bums is 100% cotton. That’s a big deal — diaper rash stands no chance!

But of course, there’s a lot more that goes into designing a high-quality diaper than the material directly over their bottoms. Parents know what brands fit the best on their baby, providing the most protection from dreaded leakage.

Plastic is typically utilized, but some brands use raw sugarcane instead.

The surprisingly soft material is used to separate the mess from the couch, giving your surfaces an extra line of defense to the messes you desperately want contained in that diaper.

Look for products containing trees. For example, tree pulp is used as the fluffy core of eco-friendly diapers. It’s fluffy and fast-absorbing. Tree resin is nature’s natural glue!

3. Avoid products that use toxic chemicals.

It’s sad that this has to be a topic to consider. But unfortunately, toxic products have been used in the production of baby care products for decades (and let’s not even mention what baby medicine used to contain, i.e., cocaine, heroin, meth, it’s crazy). There’s simply no reason for your baby’s diaper to having: chlorine, parabens, lotions, latex, phthalates, or any other ingredient proven to cause adverse reactions. We have evolved passed the point of needing to rely on these dangerous chemicals, and it’s imperative they not be used in disposable diapers.

4. What’s your baby wearing?

No, we’re not talking Vera Wang and Calvin Klein-styled diapers (do they make those? Ugh, they probably do), but instead, find disposable diapers that are designed with your baby in mind.

Specifically, some companies are incorporating shapes and patterns geared explicitly toward engaging your baby, complimenting their developmental stage depending on the size of the diaper.

Who says fashion and learning can’t mix?

Consider a lot when you’re expecting a baby or already have the little bugger earthside. While all these things are great to think about and ponder, never underestimate the power of a parent’s intuition. You know what’s suitable for your baby, and trust that you’ll make the right decision for them, your family, and the environment.

We hope these tips helped!

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