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Do Biodegradable Diapers Exist?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2014
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Many parents who are concerned about the environment are curious about diapering options. In addition to the purely disposable diapers which dominate the market, parents can utilize reusable cloth diapers or biodegradable diapers, which are designed to break down quickly after they are disposed of. A large number of companies manufacture diapers made from biodegradable materials for children from infancy to toddlerhood, and they are readily available in most parts of the world. If your local stores do not stock biodegradable diapers, you can find a retailer through your favorite search engine, or consider lobbying your store to start stocking them.

Purely disposable diapers are usually environmentally wasteful. They do not contain recycled material, but they do contain chemicals and polymers which take a long time to break down in a landfill. Although they are convenient, they are not terribly environmentally sound, and a child will use thousands of them before learning to use a toilet. Parents who want the convenience of a disposable diaper in a more healthy package might consider biodegradable diapers.

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A biodegradable diaper is just as effective as a conventional one. However, it uses materials that are designed to break down quickly in the right environment, and is also usually made without chemicals and from postconsumer material. Many come in the form of a washable cloth outer layer with inserts that snap in: all are designed to be comfortable, ecologically sound, and easy to use. However, just using diapers made from biodegradable materials does not solve the problem of what to do with them in the end.

Throwing biodegradable diapers away sends them to the landfill, just like regular disposables, and they take longer to break down in the landfill than they would normally. For this reason, many companies have developed flushable biodegradable diapers, or recommend composting or vermicomposting their products to break them down quickly. The resulting compost should not be used on plants grown for food, but is suitable for flowers and other decorative plants. In some areas where commercial garbage collection includes composting, you may be able to discard diapers made from biodegradable materials in the compost, but you should check with the trash collection agency first.

Cloth diapers should also be considered: some parents use biodegradable diapers when they travel, and cloth ones at home. Cloth diapers do consume resources such as water for laundering, but are still viewed as a better environmental choice than traditional disposables or biodegradable diapers. By using unbleached cloth diapers and hypoallergenic detergents, you can also minimize the chemicals that your young child is exposed to, and keep his or her skin healthier and less irritated. When cloth diapers are not an option, biodegradable ones are a good second choice.

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anon123627
Post 11

my two daughters used and uses a particular diaper brand here in the Philippines. I'm having problems disposing of them because here in our town we do not have a proper garbage disposal system.

for that reason, i just dug a deep hole before in our backyard and used it as a pit especially for the used diapers. i know this is not a good idea but i don't have any other options on how to throw them away without causing additional burden for our environment. Somehow we managed to train our first born not to use diapers anymore. we patiently washed cloth diapers for her before. my second, since she's only a month old is continuously using diapers. now, i I'm digging deep holes again.

anon92417
Post 10

cloth diapers are best because they contain some property like you can make them yourself and they are easy to wash and you can easily put them on the baby. so you can also use one size diapers. Thanks.

anon84332
Post 9

I think it's funny when people try to argue that cloth diapers are "bad" because the washing of them evens out the impact of disposing of them. When you think about the process that it takes a factory to make them, and the mountain that every baby leaves behind that will stay around forever while it tries to degrade and puts more chemicals in the environment, but people's laziness usually makes them try to justify themselves.

anon80248
Post 8

There is no reason besides either extreme poverty or extreme laziness not to use either a chemical free, biodegradable disposable, or a cloth diaper.

You can spend about $300 on enough Fuzzi Bunz one size adjustables which you can use from birth to potty training and for future children, or spend about $2000 on big bend disposables.

These brands like huggies have proven carcinogens in them, and yes, that means they potentially cause cancer. With 60 percent skin absorbency, why would you put these things on your children? Cloth diapers are less absorbent, which I personally find to be a good thing. There is no reason your child should be sitting in their own urine or feces for long periods of time. You're asking for infections and skin irritation.

Cloth diapers are still very absorbent when using two liners or a doubler. Also, Soft and Cozy Baby, a store in Baltimore, allows for layaway on their products, so a prospective parent can acquire their supply over the duration of the pregnancy, or after delivery until they can use exclusively cloth diapers.

My son is content and rash free, and not being exposed to at least five toxic chemicals all day every day.

anon73871
Post 7

gdiapers are the best! They are flushable and they are not "the size of a super maxi pad." In fact, you open them up and the inside disintegrates in front of your eyes. They are comfortable for the baby and they are so easy to use -- very little mess!

anon66195
Post 6

Just to clarify from an above statement, organic is NOT a generic term with various meanings and no definition. Something labeled organic has to abide by strict guidelines.

The term "natural" has no definitive definition and is often confused with organic. If you see something labeled as organic, is it safe to assume it is such, unless some company is not abiding by FDA regulations and falsely labeling their packaging, which they can get into big trouble for doing?

anon62963
Post 5

washing does not take as much water, gas, and oil than a disposable. If you believe that a reusable diaper is "the same as" a disposable in the amount of energy consumed for its life then i have this great deal on some land for you. Disposable = bad. Reusable = good. "Biodegradable" is a term that has no real definitive definition. Same as "organic". Cars could be termed biodegradable given that over time they will eventually rust and break down into their raw components.

Last time i checked flushing something as big as a super maxi pad down the toilet causes a great deal of issues. And if you have a low flow toilet you better have a plunger near by.

P.S. i am just a dad who has four kids and has tried all ways. This diaper service hands down is the best choice for baby, earth and pocketbook.

anon62776
Post 4

Nothing breaks down in a landfill. You can dig down and read newspapers that were thrown away in the 1950s, so it doesn't matter if something is made of biodegradable materials. Cloth diapers require a ton of energy and water to wash, which evens out any impact from not throwing them away.

anon54915
Post 3

There is a brand of diapers called gdiapers that are biodegradable. They are made by a company in Australia

jabuka
Post 1

I think cloth diapers are the best. Yes, disposable diapers are more convenient, but we can not have it both ways. Washing diapers and drying them in the sun, might be an old fashioned way of doing things, but they are both, baby and Eco-friendly.

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