If you have a baby in diapers right now, the last thing you’re probably worrying about is your environmental impact — you’ve got a real-life baby to look after and milestones to keep track of. But let’s be real — changing diapers is a huge part of having a baby. Diapers are a necessary evil, but they can be really costly over time. And, don't forget, they’re essentially single-use — since they’re going straight to the landfill, you may be wondering if compostable diapers exist.
A single baby can go through 2,500 to 3,000 disposable diapers from the time they are born to the time they turn one. In fact, disposable diapers make up about 2 percent of the United States’ landfill waste. At this rate, your baby’s first word will be “yikes” — after all, they are the one who will inherit planet Earth. So, with that in mind, it's no wonder you’re looking for a better, more sustainable option.
Are diapers compostable?
Sadly, traditional single-use diapers are not compostable. In order to be compostable, something needs to biodegrade on its own, which means it is made from natural materials, and therefore, be able to break down naturally. When added to the compost, it would naturally break down over time, unassisted. Because most single-use diapers are made from various forms of plastic, it would be impossible for them to completely biodegrade and therefore, they could not be composted.
It would make sense that biodegradable diapers would be able to be composted, but sadly, this is not always the case either, as many diapers that are marketed as plant-based or biodegradable aren't fully compostable. Many of these diapers may also use synthetic components in their makeup and anything synthetic inherently cannot break down in total.
Don’t worry — some biodegradable diapers are also compostable. However, most of these biodegradable diapers will not break down in your home or backyard compost bin. Many of these kinds of diapers will only break down in the right conditions, so in order to compost them, you would have to transport or ship them to a commercial or industrial compost. These kinds of composts have different settings and environments that are considered the right circumstances for these diapers to break down.
Although brands like Honest are marketed as a healthier alternative to traditional single-use diapers, they are still single-use and don't naturally break down. So, what makes them “healthier”? Similar to how Seventh Generation and Earth’s Best makes their diapers, Honest diapers are chlorine-free. They also use some plant-based materials in lieu of petroleum-based chemicals.
Best compostable diapers: Bamboo Nature
According to Bamboo Nature’s website, their diapers, which are made specifically for sensitive skin, can be composted. However, Bamboo Nature’s diapers do have a few synthetic or plastic components in them, so these would have to be removed before commercially composting them. Bamboo Nature’s diapers are specifically designed with sensitive skin in mind and they are FSC-certified, which means the wood pulp used in the product meets the requirements of the Forest Stewardship Council.
Eco by Naty
Eco by Naty diapers are a sustainable and non-toxic parent’s dream. They are certified bio-based, free of bad chemicals, and even certified STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX. According to Nature’s Premiere, these Eco by Naty diapers are compostable. Eco by Naty also makes a plant-based training potty made from 95 percent renewable materials for young potty users who are just getting started. (Most training potties are made from plastic.)
Poof diapers are a more sustainable diapering option as they are made from non-GMO corn and bamboo. These nappies are free of chemicals like chlorine, fragrance, and are also hypoallergenic in case your baby is sensitive. Poof diapers will naturally break down in certified compostable commercial facilities, but unfortunately, they will not break down in at-home compost systems.