Disposable? Reusable? Here’s how to choose eco-friendly diapers ATTITUDE
August 31, 2023Disposable? Reusable? Here’s how to choose eco-friendly diapers

Diapers’ environmental impact

Once you become a parent, you cannot avoid changing diapers. You’d like to, but you can’t! And while diapers are essential, it’s also possible to be environmentally friendly when it comes to changing your child’s diaper. A study conducted by the British government’s environment agency science program provided some interesting statistics on diaper wearing.

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This suggests parents must buy diapers for at least the first year of their child’s life, and perhaps for up to two years depending on the child. The study estimates that about four diapers per day are used, which results in about 1,460 diapers in one year.

Most parents use disposable diapers, which are primarily marketed for their effectiveness and ease of use. However, there are many environmental consequences as a disposable diaper takes about 500 years to disintegrate. Disposable diapers are one of the biggest sources of waste on the planet, according to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Life Cycle Initiative report.

What are the more eco-responsible alternatives to disposable diapers?

Although disposable diapers are not the most eco-responsible products, they are very practical. Conversely, using washable diapers necessitates being mindful of the washing and drying cycles: This requires planning and anticipating so not to run out of diapers at critical junctures.

“Biodegradable” diapers

What does biodegradable mean? A product is biodegradable if, after having been used, it can be decomposed and naturally absorbed by microorganisms that are present in the environment. The ability to biodegrade is one of the most important criteria in defining the impact that an organic product will have on the environment.

Speed is also an important factor: A plastic bottle will take centuries (or even longer) to completely disappear. Diapers that have biodegradable components are often made from cornstarch, and sometimes bamboo.

According to standard NF EN 13432, a diaper is biodegradable if it decomposes in less than six months. Some parts of diapers are not biodegradable, although on average they are at least 50 or even 60% biodegradable (fasteners, for instance, are often made of plastic).

Choosing a diaper that respects both the environment and the well-being of your little one

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It’s every parents’ wish to choose a diaper that does not negatively impact their baby’s well-being. Disposable diapers contain crystals that turn urine into a gel and separate it from stool, thereby preventing the urine-stool mix from irritating the baby. It is recommended to choose fragrance-free diapers that won’t irritate a child’s delicate skin.

Most disposable diapers are bleached with chlorine : Chlorine produces substances like dioxins and furans which are potential endocrine disruptors for babies. There are diapers that are made using a chlorine-free bleaching method known as TCF (Totally Chlorine Free) to prevent these substances from forming.

Please keep in mind as well that although there are regulations in place that prohibit marketing of products that are deemed to be dangerous for babies, there are some manufacturing processes that can lead to potential contamination with contentious substances.

Preventing diaper rash

Diaper rash – partly caused by moisture – can be compounded by the presence of fragrances in diapers. This is reason enough to integrate an EWG VERIFIED™ diaper cream into your baby’s hygiene routine before changing diapers. Formulated with zinc oxide, this diaper cream creates a physical barrier that locks in wetness and helps prevent diaper rash.

Whether disposable or washable, the most important thing is to use diapers that do not irritate your baby and won’t leak. To achieve this, diapers need to be changed regularly and be well secured so that your baby stays dry and comfortable all day long.

Cloth diapers remain the most eco-friendly option. Even though washing diapers has environmental consequences (greenhouse gas emissions linked to the transport of fibers, the use of water to cultivate cotton, and energy consumption dedicated to daily washing and drying), cloth diapers would have to be washed many (many) times to be less eco-friendly than disposable diapers.

Although this is applicable in Quebec – where 97% of the electricity consumed comes from hydroelectricity – it is not the case for countries such as the United States, which still produces electricity with coal.

It is also important to know what happens to diapers after they’ve been used: How will they be disposed of? What is the environmental impact?

Diaper waste management options

A diaper must always be discarded. Presently, it cannot be composted. The best-case scenario is that a portion will degrade completely. Information regarding diaper waste based upon its ability to degrade can be found here.

All diapers are sent for disposal to a landfill site. The consequences of this form of waste management are as follows:

  • Once diaper waste reaches the landfill, it is immediately blanketed with a landfill cover. The implication is that there are layers and layers of waste piling up.
  • Landfills can typically be operational for 50 to 100 years.
  • It can take up to 500 years for a diaper to completely degrade.
  • Transporting waste is expensive.
  • The landfill method has a negative impact on the environment, as it causes soil erosion, air and water pollution, and greenhouse gases.

The positive, however, is that the partially biodegradable diaper components will completely degrade in a landfill. This biodegradation process forms simple compounds like carbon dioxide (CO2), and water and cellulose can be degraded.

To learn more about what happens to products once they are no longer of use, and what happens to garbage (and its environmental impact), please consult the çavaoù? app.

Now that you’re familiar with various diaper options, the choice is yours to make. And if you’re still undecided, why not lean on organizations like the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which helps consumers choose products that have ingredients that pose a minimal risk.

EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database details possible health risks and hazards that are associated with beauty and personal care products.

We want to make your life easier! With overworked and stressed-out parents in mind, ATTITUDE™ recommends automatically restocking your diaper supply as often as you want and save 10% on your order. To respect a baby’s delicate skin, our diapers are made from biodegradable elements, they’re dermatologically tested, and are formulated without dyes, fragrances or chlorine.

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Written by Team ATTITUDE