12 Best Eco-Friendly Disposable Diapers of 2021
Best Eco-Friendly Diapers of 2021
July 14, 2021

Best Eco-Friendly Diapers of 2021

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Best Eco-Friendly Diapers of 2021.
Photo by Dyper
Best Eco-Friendly Diapers of 2021

There’s a lot to love about disposable diapers, especially how convenient they are and how far they’ve come in keeping your baby’s skin dry and comfy throughout the day and night. But then there’s their impact on the environment, an unfortunate reality that can’t be ignored.

Most babies will go through about 5,000 to 6,000 diapers before they are potty trained. And since disposable diapers don’t biodegrade, about 3.3 million tons will end up in landfills in any given year.

Eco-friendly diapers have set out to change all that. Are they perfect? Definitely not. Not all eco-friendly diapers are created equally, and we still have a long way to go before we start to really move the needle in terms of lessening the environmental impact from most disposables, even those labeled as eco-friendly. But they’re certainly a step in the right direction and worth a look if you’re interested in offsetting your footprint when it comes to disposable diapering.

Types of Eco-Friendly Diapers

“Eco-friendly” is an umbrella term that’s being thrown around pretty liberally by diaper companies these days. It’s helpful to have a basic understanding of what’s what before you choose which diapers are right for your family.

  • Biodegradable diapers, also often called compostable diapers, generally refer to disposable diapers that are able to be composted. (Meaning they’ll break down in the right environment.) However, there are a few important things to note here.
  1. There’s a difference between the terms biodegradable and compostable. For the purposes of diapers (and since we’re not the EPA!), let’s try to keep it simple: while all compostable items are biodegradable, not all biodegradable items are compostable. Biodegradable products break down into smaller elements but don’t truly “vanish,” while compostable products, under the right conditions, turn into organic material. The terms are often used interchangeably by many diaper companies, but it’s important to note the difference if you really want to do your homework.

  2. Biodegradable diapers are only truly compostable if they’re sent to a commercial composting facility. While some brands (like Dyper, for example) offer this service as part of their subscription model, most do not, and diaper composting plants are presently few and far between in North America. So while a compostable diaper may take less time to break down than a traditional disposable, don’t be fooled into thinking these types of diapers will magically disappear when they hit the landfill; many can still take hundreds of years to break down as landfill conditions are not optimal for composting.

  • Sustainable diapers are free of some of the more common chemicals found in traditional diapers and generally have less of a harmful impact on the environment. Sustainable does not equal compostable, however, so keep that in mind. They’re generally made from some plant-based materials—the percentage of which can vary wildly brand-by-brand—and many brands that make these types of diapers often give back in some way, such as by donating to offset their carbon footprint.

  • Terms like organic, chemical-free or natural diapers mean a lot of pretty broad, non-specific and sometimes very non-scientific things, so you’ll want to tread carefully here and do your own research. Sometimes brands who boast these terms use plant-based materials, while others make diapers free of things like fragrance, chlorine, parabens or dyes.

And one quick note to assuage any parent guilt that might be creeping in. While eco-friendly disposables may be (somewhat) friendlier for the environment, it’s pretty unlikely that traditional disposable diapers are harming your baby. If you find an eco-friendly option that works for you and for your budget, great, but if not—so be it. Parenting is all about figuring out what works for you, your baby, your family and your day-to-day sanity.

And what about cloth diapering? While the jury’s still out on the environmental impact of cloth diapers versus their disposable counterparts, cloth diapering is something you may want to look into if you’re considering your eco-friendly diapering options.

There are lots of different cloth diaper alternatives, including everything from reusable options like Charlie Banana to hybrids (reusable diaper covers + disposable inserts) from mainstream brands like Pampers Pure. Cloth Diapering 101 will walk you through.

Babylist’s Best Eco-Friendly Diapers

Compostable or Partially Compostable Eco-Friendly Diapers

Best Overall Eco-Friendly Diapers

Dyper truly delivers on their promise to create an eco-friendly, completely compostable disposable diaper. These unprinted, unscented bamboo diapers are soft and absorbent and are free of things like chlorine, latex and alcohol, but it’s their ability to compost that really makes them shine. Soiled diapers (yup, even the poopy ones) can be returned for composting through the brand’s optional Redyper service. You get everything you need including the bags, boxes and prepaid shipping labels to return your diapers each month. It comes at an additional cost, but it’s well worth it if it fits into your budget and you’re looking to reduce your environmental impact.

Compostable + Transparent Ingredient List

Much like Dyper, Nest’s disposable diapers are an eco-friendly option that are compostable in municipal and industrial composting facilities. There’s no nation-side mail-in composting subscription option here, though; Nest is currently only partnered with two diaper compost providers in the Minneapolis and San Francisco areas. (But they are actively pursuing more partners throughout the country as services expand, so stay tuned!)

Other features to love about Nest diapers: they’re made from sustainable ingredients (there’s even a materials chart on their website that lists every single diaper ingredient and its function, impact and environmental summary) and free of chemicals, lotions and perfumes.

Family-Owned and Operated

This family-operated Michigan-based brand was founded with the mission of creating a disposable diaper that was better for both children and the planet. Made with a layer of 100% bamboo fiber, Andy Pandy diapers are about 87% biodegradable, degrading by more than 60% in 75 days. They’re also moisture-wicking to stave off diaper rash, free of alcohol and chlorine and hypoallergenic.

Longtime Eco-Friendly Fave

Naty, a Swedish brand founded by a mom, has been working toward developing a more eco-friendly diaper for over 25 years. Their Eco diapers use renewable, compostable materials whenever possible and have 0% oil-based plastic touching baby’s skin. The diaper’s core is made from 100% wood pulp (among other naturally biodegradable materials) and is 85% compostable. They’re also super transparent about their ingredients list and environmental certifications.

Interesting to note: Naty also makes a line of sustainable, eco-friendly women’s care products like tampons, nursing pads and more.

Sustainable Eco-Friendly Diapers

Best Eco-Friendly Diaper Bundle

If you’re overwhelmed by which brand of eco-friendly diapers to choose, Babylist’s Diaper Box is exactly what you’ve been waiting for. This exclusive bundle includes diapers and wipes from three popular eco-friendly brands: The Honest Company, Dyper and Coterie. There are 101 diapers and 208 wipes in all and everything is free from chlorine, fragrances and parabens. You’ll get the chance to try out each before you stock up.

Best Sustainable Diapers

95% of all waste produced from Bambo diapers is recycled, making these disposables a great choice if you’re looking for a more sustainable, eco-friendly option. Their breathable design helps to prevent diaper rash and they’re free of many of the chemicals and perfumes found in more traditional disposable diapers. There’s also a wetness indicator that lets you know when it’s time for a change.

Bambo also now makes a Premium version (called the Dream Collection) of their classic diaper that boasts improved sustainability.

Most Stylish Eco-Friendly Diapers

Cute designs aside (and they sure are cute), there are several eco-friendly features of Honest Diapers to love. The brand’s Clean Concious line is designed with plant-based materials and the fluff pulp is sourced from sustainably-managed pine and spruce trees in Scandinavia, helping to save about 7,000 trees each year. New additions include a wetness indicator, Poo Pockets for extra messy situations and stretchier sides for babies on the move.

Best Mainstream Eco-Friendly Diapers

Pampers Pure is this mainstream diaper brand’s most natural option. Each diaper has a plant-based liner enriched with shea butter and contains 0% chlorine bleaching, fragrances, parabens or latex. Parents rave about the diapers’ softness and absorbency as well as the convenience of the wetness indicator. They’re also one of the more affordable eco-friendly disposables on our best-of list.

Best Luxury Eco-Friendly Diapers

Ask anyone who’s tried Coterie and you’ll likely hear how luxuriously soft and super absorbent these diapers are. They’re ultra-wicking to keep your little one dry and comfortable (they promise to move liquid away from your baby’s skin about four times faster than other diapers) and hold about 70% more than competing brands. They’re also made from 25% plant-based materials and donate 1% of their net diaper sales to Diaper Recycling Technology, an organization working to develop a technology that can recover up to 95% of the raw materials of a used diaper. Coterie diapers are available via a subscription service or a one-time purchase.

Sustainable + Breathable

Another solid choice if you’re looking for a more sustainable diaper, Seventh Generation’s disposables use sustainably sourced wood pulp and are made without fragrances, lotions or chlorine bleaching. (The lack of chlorine helps to prevent toxins from entering waterways.) There’s a breathable layer that helps pull moisture away from baby’s skin and a 12-hour protection promise.

Most Comfortable Eco-Friendly Diapers

Dubbed the “yoga pants of diapers,” Parasol diapers are super soft, designed for maximum movement and feature a high-rise fit. Unlike traditional disposables that often have a thick, bulky design, Parasol diapers have an ultra-thin core, giving them a much lighter feel and helping to reduce the diapers’ carbon footprint. The breathable design and special RashShield fabrics help prevent diaper rash and the ingredients list is free of things like chlorine, alcohol, dyes, fragrances and latex.

Eco-Friendly and Brain-Friendly

If you’ve ever tried Happy Family Organics baby food—and we bet you have—then you’re already familiar with the founder of the Healthynest brand. Their disposable diapers are made from plant-based materials in a sustainable facility. There are no fragrances, lotions or odor absorbers and the diapers are free of allergens and irritants.

What’s really unique is the brand’s diapering program: each shipment comes with a month’s supply of diapers and wipes, five enrichment activity cards and access to exclusive videos to support your baby’s development customized to the particular age and stage that they’re in.

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