Editor’s note: Always check first with your municipal composting facility to find out if they actually do accept compostable/biodegradable diapers. The compostable diaper services mentioned below have existing relationships with commercial composting facilities that handle and process biosolids.
I’m the kind of gal who will carry a banana peel around in my purse for hours so that I can compost it at home. So, when I was pregnant last year, I started doing research on diapers. I was conscious of the egregious amount of diaper waste that winds up in landfills, and I didn’t want to contribute to the problem. Cloth diapers were not an option for our family, because we lack laundry facilities at our apartment building in Brooklyn. And I couldn’t imagine carting soiled diapers to the laundromat every other day. Talk about a waste! So, what’s the alternative to disposable or cloth diapers?
What About Hybrid Diapers?
My husband and I began our journey to find the answer by starting with a hybrid diaper made by gDiapers. The external portion of the diaper is a reusable washable cloth shell, called gPants, and you simply replace the ‘flushable’ inserts. Dubious as to whether these inserts were really flushable or not, we unfortunately chose to discard them in the trash instead of testing our building’s 120-year-old plumbing.
GDiapers claims that the inserts are compostable, but only in municipal facilities since, as their site advises, “home composting does not reach internal temperatures high enough to kill the pathogens associated with feces.” So, what good is a compostable diaper if only the wet ones (no poopy diapers) can be composted at home?
Editor’s note: You may have seen some buzz recently about the Federal Trade Commission challenging gDiapers’ claims that its inserts and wipes are biodegradable and compostable. gDiapers has responded with clearer language and product testing, as the company founders explain here.
As we were soon trashing hundreds of inserts per month, it was only a short time before I realized we were now unintentionally contributing to the waste problem. Not to mention, the leakage factor was an issue with gDiapers; therefore, our water consumption was high, since we were constantly soaking and scrubbing the gPants (the exterior shell portion). It felt like my husband and I were hand laundering our own cloth diapers on an assembly line!
While our poor experience with the gDiaper hybrid tainted the idea of cloth diapers for us, things might have been easier and less wasteful if we had used a proper cloth diaper service in the first place. As a side note, for the truly eco-conscious, cloth diapers are not always the most sustainable option in locations where water supply is an issue, i.e. Los Angeles, or in homes reliant on well water, which can be limited.
The Winner: Compostable Diaper Service
So the research continued. And, at last my dream had come true. I found a company in New York City (serving most of the five boroughs, Nassau and Suffolk counties) that provides a 100% compostable diaper option. Nature’s Premiere Diaper Service sells compostable diapers supplied by Naty and Bambo Nature (and formerly by Broody Chick, which are shown in the photo above, though I find Naty diapers perform better).
Nearly identical to disposable diapers, the compostable ones made from GMO-free corn and sustainably harvested fibers provide the same protection against leaks as their disposable counterparts. But, in disposable diapers, my son Jalen suffers from diaper rash; not so in compostables.
How does the pickup service work? It’s simple: Compostable diapers and wipes go into one single bag for weekly collection at home, hauled by the diaper service to a commercial composting facility in upstate New York.
Compostable Diapers: Value Worth the Cost
Granted, trucks generate carbon. And the products themselves are imported from overseas, which I’m not exactly thrilled about. It’s true, too, that compostable diapers cost more than disposables. On Diapers.com, I compared four Size 4 diapers by Broody Chick, Naty, Pampers, and Huggies. Accounting for the larger quantities in which families often buy disposables, I found that compostable diapers cost 9 cents more per diaper than disposables.
Using a compostable diaper service also involves an additional monthly cost for the commercial composting fee, making fully compostable diapers cost-prohibitive for many new parents. For me, personally, the price is worth it knowing that I’m not contributing to the billion-pound diaper pile-up in landfills across the nation.
Spreading the Word About Compostable Diapers
Outside of Nature’s Premiere in the New York City area, I found similar compostable diaper services around the U.S.: EarthBaby in the San Francisco Bay area; Blessed Bums in Los Angeles, CA, and beyond; Ivy’s Diaper Service in the Charlotte, NC area; Simple Diaper & Linen between Greenfield, Mass., and West Hartford, CT; and Kind By Nature based in Auburn, Mass.
It’s my hope that compostable diapers enter the mainstream conversation. The debate seems to always be between disposable vs. cloth or a combination thereof (hybrids). But calling all aware parents! Compostable diapers are not just for the eco-conscious. In my view, they are the only truly sustainable option for our growing population. What do you think? Please let me know.
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