The Best Non-Toxic and Sustainable Diapers
- by Teri Tracy
- Oct 20, 2022
- No Comments
Image by Healthybaby
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Parents are becoming more aware of the toxins in children’s products, but there are still a few gray product areas where we’re asking the big questions. As we know, companies are out to find the most cost-effective way to produce a product that everyone needs, and they don’t always center our precious youth’s health. Welcome to the diaper industry.
To make diapers and other similar products, companies use an alarming number of chemicals and materials that would be difficult for you or I to pronounce, let alone understand their long-term effects on children, whose health is incredibly fragile in the first stages of development. The same goes for any knowledge of how these chemicals break down into and affect our environment.
The core question is this: What is the most absorbent, comfortable product, while also the safest and most sustainable? There are tons of options out there that seem reliable, at least on paper. So how can a parent know how to choose a diaper that isn’t harmful to their baby or the environment? It’s a tough one.
We’ve decided to take a closer look into the diaper industry and find some answers for parents. Here are a few basic factors to look for when choosing a diaper brand.
Natural materials. There are many diapers that claim to use “natural materials”, but even the best brands still contain small amounts of synthetic materials such as polyethylene, polyester and adhesive, which are all hard to duplicate using only what’s found in nature. These are fine depending on where they are located in the diaper and what function they serve. But absorbent fillings should always contain things that you can picture: wood fluff, pine, or unbleached cotton.
Biodegradable. Diapers are a primary waste culprit amongst households with youngsters. While there aren’t any disposable diapers out there that are fully, 100% biodegradable, there are diaper brands out there using that word liberally. Technology simply hasn’t caught up to manufacturing 100% nontoxic and biodegradable materials for mass-producing diapers just yet. However, some brands do offer programs for sustainable composting or recycling that harvest every ounce of recyclable material that is in the diapers.
Toxicity. Volatile organic compounds, polyacrylates and phthalates are all chemicals you don’t want to see in your baby’s diapers. Many of these types of chemicals are linked through prolonged exposure to adverse development, immune system changes, and even hormone trouble down the road. To find diapers free of chemicals like these, look for certifications like EWG verification, the TCF (totally chlorine-free) seal, and Oeko-TEX standard 100 certification. These certifications are developed by non-profit organizations that are dedicated to ensuring that products really are what they say they are!
Sustainable Sourcing. If a diaper manufacturer made a diaper from an endangered species of pine, would you still use them in your home? Neither would we, which is why it’s important to make sure that your diapers are coming from a brand that uses ethical sourcing for its products, rather than contribute further to deforestation and biodiversity loss. A great way to tell if a company is being responsible with their sourcing is to look for the SFI certificate, which means that a company is on board with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
Reusable Diapers. Some companies in the sustainable and nontoxic diaper industry are also tapping into an even more sustainable option: reusable diapers. This is great news for those who want to stay away from plastics and other production chemicals entirely! Instead of purchasing diapers that are partially biodegradable and still contain some plastics, you can steer free completely by using organic, sustainable cloth diapers. Brands like Dyper produce reusable diapers alongside its semi-compostable ones.
Brands That Make Sustainable & Non-Toxic Diapers
Most of the brands you see on the grocery store shelf that claim to be “natural”, “biodegradable”, or even “100% nontoxic” are probably lying to you using a marketing loophole. Unfortunately, lots of “natural” supermarket brands still contain chlorines, phthalates, latex, parabens, and so on. Bad news bears for those of us who grab whatever’s on sale.
Fortunately, there are some brands out there that do live up to (most of) their advertising without breaking the bank. Here are a few of the brands we trust the most based on our research.
Dyper’s website offers a complete list of the ingredients used in the construction of its diapers. This brand make its diapers out of plant-based products including bamboo, and leaves out the fragrances, chlorines, phthalates, latex, PVC, and TBT. Its diapers are Oeko-TEX 100 Certified and 61% biodegradable (on the higher end of diaper biodegradability). You can also find information about carbon offsetting and Dyper’s efforts to be carbon neutral.
Dyper offers subscriptions or one-time purchasing in a wide variety of sizes, and a biweekly pickup service for used diapers and wipes in some areas. According to a representative for Dyper, the company partners with regional composting facilities to compost the materials that can be broken down within 14 to 16 weeks, and the rest are removed from the compost and disposed of.
Healthybaby offers EWG-verified diapers manufactured using organic cotton. Its diapers are free of parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, PEGs, propylene glycol, and sulfates. Notably, these diapers are made with wood pulp and organic cotton, though the leg cuffs do still contain some elastic polyurethane. While Healthybaby has a wide line of diapers for every stage of development, it also carries non-toxic changing products in refillable containers. The brand’s wipes come in biodegradable cardboard packaging, and are ready for use as soon as you add water.
Kudos made our list using materials that you and I know well: sugarcane and cornstarch. The diapers are Oeko-TEX 100 Certified and are made using certified organic cotton. Kudos’ website features a full breakdown of every single ingredient in its diapers, which gives you peace of mind if your little one has an allergy. Like the other brands, Kudos diapers are free of fragrances, chlorine, and phthalates, but the brand does admit its use of polypropylene and polyester in the closure components, both of which Kudos claims it plans to replace as soon as more sustainable and nontoxic technology hits the market.