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.
Note: The opinions expressed by contributors and those providing comments to WeHateToWaste.com are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions — or any endorsement by WeHateToWaste.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, WeHateToWaste.com is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.
Love what you’re doing here, Jen. By marrying the theoretically compostable diapers with a pickup service ensures that the diapers (and their contents) wind up in a municipal service where they can be composted successfully, the problem of compostables winding up in home composters is now avoided. Exciting to think about what other compostables can be picked up in the future! I suppose there’s alot that NYC can learn from San Francisco and Seattle in this regard!
P.S. As a green marketer, I might suggest an alternative name to the “EcoNatural” product in the picture — but we can address that separately!
Thanks, Jacquie. I will say that I do take the additional step of removing solid waste from the diaper and flushing it down the toilet BEFORE adding the ‘soiled’ diaper to the biodegradable collection bag. Although it’s not specified by our diaper service to do this, it seems like common sense – less weight to be carted off to the commercial composting facility and solid waste is properly routed to the wastewater treatment plant. Sadly, the diaper landfill crisis gets scarier as people continue to wrap up solid waste inside of the plastic disposable diapers. It’s actually a public health concern (see http://www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=1189).
To Mark’s point, I might argue that a properly mixed (browns and greens) and aerated home compost pile emits a negligible amount of gas. On a commercial level, with less oxygen flow, I can see the need for recapturing methane. As far as flushing diapers goes, however, the jury is still out. I came across this interesting link: http://neorsd.blogspot.com/2012/08/video-flushable-wipes-maybe-not-so-much.html.
I didn’t mean to imply that methane is a problem for home composting piles. Quite the contrary, methane is pretty much eliminated. What I was saying was it would be a problem if one tried to compost the diapers in a home pile. However, the bigger concern is that diapers should never be composted in a home compost pile because the temperature needs to go high enough to kill all the pathogens in the waste, and home composters really are not sophisticated enough to assure that is the case, like the in-vessel municipal compost systems (the “cookers”) are, particularly if there’s one dedicated to diapers. I’m also now a little leery of the flushable diapers after what I read about possible plumbing problems. Given what you uncovered about the health concerns, and the fact that diapers make up really what is considered a big part of the landfills at 2%, I wouldn’t be surprised if these closed loop systems became more prevalent and legislation requiring this kind of recycling would be tried. A similar thing happened with rechargeable batteries in the 1990’s. Laws were passed banning them from landfills because of the toxic cadmium. The industry launched its own voluntary recycling and collection scheme and stopped the legislation. My guess is it hasn’t happened for diapers because legislators aren’t as aware of the issue, and they haven’t figured out how to tax diapers and plow the money back into the system (like the tire recycling tax )the packaged goods companies would be against it and the companies that sell the in-vessel containment equipment are numerous, but smaller companies without much clout.
Compost is not as bad as landfill as long as methane is recaptured, but composting does release methane (a GHG 6x more potent than CO2) and nitrous oxide; flushable diapers would seem to be best because municipal sewage plants have anaerobic digesters that are designed to capture methane and use it for fuel. Flushable diapers do use water, but water is part of a natural evaporation and recapture cycle, and while one could say the same for the carbon cycle and GHG, we’ve simply got too much of it in the atmosphere; that makes a pretty strong case regardless of what a life cycle study may yield.
Our kids are now 21 and 26. With my older one, we experimented with some of the first biodegradable diapers. Unfortunately, they were a disaster (degrading while in use), and we went back, guiltily, to commercial disposables. Cloth was not an option for her because of a skin condition. In fact, we couldn’t even use Huggies or Pampers–only (expensive) Luvs seemed to work.
We were able to make cloth work for my son, five years later–thanks in part to the washable velcro wraps that had been developed by then–and used a local eco-friendly diaper service. ANd yes, we flushed the solid waste first. Not only did the diaper service require it, but so did our noses. We didn’t want to be smelling a hamper full of ick all the time. Cloth worked great for him, and the diaper service was a pleasure to work with.
Speaking of hating to waste, we now use a natural enzyme product called Go Flushless to reduce urine odor and thus the need to flush. Water waste will be a major resource issue in the coming decades.
–Shel Horowitz, primary author, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, making-green-sexy.com
Go flushless is now whyflush.com. Interesting product. In Atlanta, where we have the highest water rates in the country, we’ve learned (well some of us) not to flush liquid waste every time.
Interesting that compostable and cloth diapers seem to require flushing in advance — suggests of course that we should simply be aiming at flushing all diapers as an ideal. So GDiaper may be onto something if they can handle the containment issues.
Speaking of flushing, I once worked with a company who made effervescent tablets to drop into the bowl as a toilet cleaner. Couldn’t help wondering if those tablets in addition to cleaning the bowl could act as a pre-treatment of waste — especially needed in NYC since so much wastewater overflows our treatment plants on rainy days.
All the disposable diapers that I’ve ever bought have instructions on the packaging to flush solids down the toilet. Most people either ignore that or don’t read it because they already know how to change a diaper.
I am so sorry you had a poor experience with g’s. Diapers are a funny business – it’s a product that isn’t perfect for every bub in every situation. It seems you’ve now found a good solution.
What I really don’t understand and I am after clarity on this is how the compostable diapers I see in the market – Nature Babycare, Bambo, Broody Chick can actual compost. Each of them tout those components that are compostable but don’t mention those components that are not. So by omission, there is a deception. For example the elastic leg guards – this stuff goes nowhere in a compost (we have the tests to prove it in our own product dev), the acquisition layer and the velcro tabs which appear to be traditional polypropylene. Nature Baby Care used to say quite openly that they were 80% compostable – which is good as it is transparent but it suggests that in a commercial composting environment you would have significant contamination issues with the 20% of the product which is plastic which would seriously reduce the value of any compost generated. Do you know what I mean? What am I missing? Back home in Australia we do have a 100% compostable diaper being used in services with daycares and we have had to design around these issues.
PS – In the spirit of hating to waste, check out http://www.hotbincomposting.com/ – an interesting UK home composting option that can generate a ton of heat, kill pathogens and allow you to home compost food scraps including meat. We have customers using this unit with our product (wet & soiled) in the UK and US. We are trying to find ways to create closed loop, cradle to cradle approaches to how we consume products. It’s a journey!
I don’t know if fully-flushable diapers are the solution. Out in the country,and in many developing countries, plumbing is iffy enough that you might see a whole lot of clogged toilets.
Mark, thanks for the info on the GoFlushless rebrand. A bottle lasts a LONG time, so I haven’t been shopping for more.
I applaud the impulse to green up diaper use. Unfortunately, these diapers are a nightmare-come-true for many municipal composting facilities. At Green Mountain Compost (Williston, Vermont), we DO NOT accept pet or human waste, or items that have come in contact with pet or human waste. There is no feasible way that all human waste would be removed before gDiaper’s misinformed customers merrily send their diapers our way. Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission has taken gDiapers to task for their broad claims of biodegradability and compostability (information here: http://www.bdlaw.com/assets/htmldocuments/FTC%20Continues%20Crackdown.pdf). In short, if you’re in Vermont, or anywhere, for that matter, before you purchase this or any other product that claims to be compostable, please contact your local composting facility to see if they actually do accept that product.
Precisely Clare – beyond the 3 -4 facilities Jen mentions, no other facility in the US accepts diapers of any sort. It’s really important to note that at g, our claims around composting whether on the packaging or on the website refer to “wet ones only, in a home compost” and have done so since we launched. In around 10% of cases in online advertising, the main claim and the disclaimer were not in close enough proximity or not present at all – a miss on our part and related to how our online marketing needed to catch up to our real-world marketing. This is what we have tightened up. It wasn’t a case of we were claiming the product was commercially compostable. It was about proximity of claim to disclaimer. In the 10 years the brand has been in the US and Europe and 20 years we have been in Australia, Mums and Dads have not made the assumption that the product is commercially compostable. There has been no way to date for our consumers to actually send their g’s to a commercial compost in the US. We are not marketed as a part of a compostable diaper service. Australia does offer viable commercial composting options but not yet in the US.
The bigger issue is the confusion now created with compostable diaper services. The task of the commercial composting facility is to firstly confirm that the diapers coming into the facility are in fact the 2 – 3 brands that claim compostability and that is nearly impossible as all diapers – especially soiled ones look identical. And as I understand, the biggest risk in the composting business is allowing contaminates in as it seriously jeopardises the quality and marketability of the end product.
I think it is reasonable to communicate to consumer that not all compost is created equal. One could argue that a compost that is at a high risk of contaminates due to the associated plastic in compostable diapers is of no value at all. Per the FTC’s guidelines “It would be deceptive under the FTC’s Green Guides if in the process of introducing the materials into a composting facility, the product actually releases toxins or other chemicals which prevents the compost from being usable”.
I also don’t know how it can be communicated consistently that only some – 4 facilities nationally can accept these diapers. That also appears to go entirely against the new FTC guidelines that “a marketer cannot represent that its product is appropriate for compost if such a composting facility is not readily available to a substantial majority of consumers where the product is sold. The FTC suggests that such facilities should be available to at least 60% of the consumers.
One of the many problems with this product is that most consumers will see “compostable diapers” and stop reading there, thinking they have found a nice, green cure. They’re not going to read much beyond there; that’s just a given. They’ll incorrectly believe the diapers will degrade in the airless, lightless tomb of a landfill, where such degradation happens only incrementally, and over many, many, many decades. Scientists have dug into landfills and found newspapers and carrots — both highly compostable — still recognizable and readable after 20 years of being buried in a landfill. I’m in marketing and, as much as the fact that people rarely read deeply into packaging goads me, it’s proven out time and time again. In deference to that fact, I organize my information and expectations accordingly. This diaper product fails on that count, among others. It puts a far too optimistic burden on the customer, who mainly wants a convenient way to be greener. Again, I applaud that impulse. What I don’t applaud is a product that endangers existing systems for recycling and composting. All I can do is hope that no one in our District is duped into purchasing this product, no matter how well-intentioned are its producers.
It is also a myth that making an “either or” choice of diapers is the only solution. In many parts of the world, babies still don’t wear diapers. They are watched carefully by their mother or caregiver and held over a chamber pot when they are about to eliminate. They are gradually conditioned to go when a specific sound is made or when they are held in a certain position. As they begin to toddle, they wear dresses or open-crotched pants and learn to squat when they need to. It sounds odd to us perhaps, but caregivers in other countries cringe in horror at the very idea of making a baby sit in his own waste. If the method, called Elimination Communication, Natural Infant Hygiene, or Infant Potty Training by various groups, appeals to you, there are books and websites (diaperfreebaby.org, for instance) to teach you how to do it. And it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing affair: According to parents who practice the method, babies can be diapered part-time and managed diaper free when at home. Of course, I solved the diaper dilemma by never having had children, so I imagine for most people who have, this might not be a very “poopular” choice.
My apologies to Jason as I never intended for my post to be an attack on gDiapers. In hindsight, we might have had a totally different experience with gDiapers had we implemented them a little later in our son’s life. Since newborns and infants are fed liquid-only diets, there is no solidity to their waste. Thus the leakage barrier, and the product in general, is tested to the limit.
As per Clare’s comment, I was, in fact, looking for a greener product, not for convenience sake, but because I am a true waste hater to the core. I was initially lured by the gDiapers claim that I would be making an environmentally friendlier choice over disposables. Then came the dismay over our disposal of the inserts (that were almost equivalent in size to an actual diaper).
Jason, I do agree with you. I, too, am perplexed by Naty’s admission that their diaper is not fully biodegradable. A representative from Naty needs to weigh in on this. I did question similar wording on Broody Chick’s packaging when we initially signed up with Nature’s Premiere, but I was assured by the owner that they wouldn’t supply diapers and wipes to customers that weren’t compatible with the commercial compost facility’s requirements. Nature’s Premiere also made it clear that we were ONLY to use the diapers and wipes that they provided.
Old plumbing and new, septic tanks vs. city sewage, it doesn’t matter. Diapers are just too much for any system (see http://greenopedia.com/article/are-flushable-diapers-and-wipes-ok-flush/1144). Again, flushing is not the answer and should not be an end goal, in my opinion, especially if diapers and wipes are continually causing the machinery at treatment plants to malfunction. We would never think of flushing feminine pads down the toilet. Water waste is already a major resource issue on a global level. Using potable water to flush, in general, is wasteful when we consider that millions do not have clean water to drink.
Unfortunately, my conclusion that compostable diapers are the only sustainable option for a growing global population has been trumped by Mark’s reference to elimination communication. I will concede that no diapers whatsoever in the latter practice is more sustainable than compostable diapers.
Excellent point Mark. It’s interesting that in a market like China where EC is really the cultural norm, the large players in the diaper category are not making inroads as fast as expected. The notion of throwing something away every 5-6 hours is not common to them. It does require an attentive Mum which is tricky given many households have both parents working. When we moved to the States to launch gDiapers, we had a newborn and joined our local EC community. They were somewhat flummoxed that we would do such a thing given we ran a diaper company but we really wanted to see how it worked. And for a time, it was incredible. We could read the signals and predict when he needed to go. It is an interesting conundrum that in a world where we want / need to eliminate waste, we may need to pare back consumption in the first place. EC is the ultimate expression of no consumption – all you need is attentiveness.
Jenny – I didn’t read your post as an attack on gDiapers at all and I hope my response didn’t come across as defensive. I wanted to share my perspective and pose a genuine question I have on the compostable diaper front. All dialogue is good dialogue!
The statistic I read is that there are 321 million babies in the world of diaper age (up to 30 months) and that only 1 in 5 use diapers. As countries develop, they inevitably want diapers, just like they want McDonald’s. As populations in these oountries age, like the USA, adult diapers will also become a larger part of diaper volume. Waste disposal, even landfill technology, also has to keep pace with the advance of countries into the developed world. So the problem will only get bigger. Ultimately, I’m thinking waste to energy will become more prevalent and will be a preferred solution for diapers, or diapers will be treated as medical waste and be incinerated or some medical waste to energy system will emerge. However, due to the collection issue, anything that raises the price of diapers I’m guessing would be a tough sell in terms of legislation forcing move. With some ingenuity, we have to ask ourselves would it really be that hard to equip curbside bins with some smaller “piggyback” bin for diapers and do the same on recycling or garbage trucks.
Re: Sustainability of Flushables in Water-Constrained World
Excellent dialogue going on here. Warms my heart, and makes all effort at running this site so worthwhile. Thanks everyone.
One thing to consider when talking about flushable anything: We need to put flushing into context. Thanks to a book I read recently — and heartily recommend — entitled The Big Necessity: Adventures in the World of Human Waste by Rose George (Portobello Books, 2008), most of the world does not have the luxury of flushing human waste down a toilet in fresh water. And this will become more of a luxury as water becomes more constrained as expected. Suggests to me pressure is on to find composting as a solution to both flushables and washables.
Just to give a some quick insight on this without it being too dragged out.. Nature’s Premiere does NOT promote home composting, we actually use a commercial facility in upstate NY that specializes in biosolids. Truthfully, we are not at all sure why it is stated on diaper packages that you can “toss them into a home composter” when there is just too many factors that goes into composting a diaper. Many people call us requesting information at how to compost diapers at home, and its alarming since its dangerous to compost at home being that you cannot possibly get temperatures high enough in a home composter to break down the actual diaper, which is just one of the concerns with home composting.. Unfortunately, there are no local facilities in the Long Island/NYC area that accept biosolids since many composting sites are not on board with regulating what comes into the actual composter. Also, composting sites must be certified in biosolids to accept diapers into their facility and since its not a popular idea at this time many won’t implement that into their composting program (we tried desperately to convince local ones otherwise). One of the reasons why we ask that all diapers are purchased through our service is so we can at least try to regulate that what we pick up and drop off is indeed a brand that was tested for compostability from our composter, however thats an extreme challenge since its hard to prove that everything that comes into our shop is actually what we sent out, but we try. We have had issues where people buy a conventional diaper and toss it in the compost bags that we later had to answer for when we received a call from our composting plant manager that they had to sift out uncompostable baby diapers. Its incredibly hard to regulate but we try.
The three brands that past the test of our composting facility were Broody Chick ( we no longer use them since they are made in China, hard to stock and they claim to be 100% compostable when they are not anymore compostable than our current line of diapers) NATY, which is a brand used widely by many composting services across the country including Tiny Tots in CA, and Earth Baby, and Bamboo Nature Baby. These are the only three diapers that are currently able to be composted at the facility we use, doesn’t mean there are not other new compostable brands that can’t be but we have tested several and these are the only ones allowed. While they are not 100% compostable (no diaper is at this time) they are the only ones that break down ( in a commercial composter!) at least 75-80%. The tabs, and leg elastics along with some of the pulp in the diapers do not break down, however they greatly reduce waste with a large portion of the diaper being literally composted into dirt like mulch within a few short months.
The intentional, misleading marketing by some brands slapping the word COMPOSTABLE all over their products is unfortunate since it leads people to believe that these diapers will break down in a landfill the same as they would in a composter. Even in a professional composting facility it takes 3 MONTHS to break down, as there is a whole process when composting human waste. We have had people contact us when we switched over from Broody Chick to NATY because it does not say compostable on their diapers. Their diapers are compostable, however not 100% and not if not composted by a professional. We chose the more honest route of promoting diapers that don’t mislead the buyer to think they are buying a diaper that will break down if you leave it outside for 30 days. Maybe in an environment (thats not a NYC landfill) these diapers will naturally degrade over time like anything else (most anything else) however they will not be naturally composted, nor break down any faster than a conventional diaper without the help of a facility to do so.
Our goal truthfully is to give parents an option to reduce their waste by going with a composting service. Again, we do not claim that your diapers will be 100% composted however a huge portion of your diaper will be. What is better than having a composting service is EC’ing (like one commenter had said, that is by far the best option!) and actually having government programs in place to compost diapers on a mass level for a nominal or even no fee like they do anything else. Unfortunately that takes a lot of money, time, certifications etc, but something that i do think we will all see at some point in our lives. Until then, there is us, just a small family owned and operated business trying to clean up NY’s incredibly overfilled landfills.
The issue with disposable diapers is that there are few interested in the thought of reusing the soiled item. Parents have time constraints and the ease and mild effort of using disposable diapers just seems simple enough, and if simple can find it’s way into parenthood, it will be a done deal. The more conscious people become about waste the more inclined they will be to use and re-use. Environmental waste is serious and we are responsible for it. This concern should b more mainstream and more accessible to the consumer. It really has to begin with passionate people and getting the word out there for this great diaper service, in order to reduce the waste we put out there.
Regarding Amy’s comment, I think there’s another camp of people who DO read the instructions but still don’t understand proper poop protocol and what it means if they don’t follow it. I consider myself an educated person. I didn’t spend much time around babies until I nannied for a short period. Even then, the parents who taught me how to change a diaper NEVER mentioned anything about dumping poop out of the diaper into the toilet. These parents were educated people. They simply taught me to wrap the poop up in the diaper and get it out of the house and into the trash bin as fast as I could run.
I am now, of course, hyperaware of the potential repercussions of this simple uninformed act. My wish is to get rid of disposables entirely. Let the choice be between cloth and compostables only. I agree with Gabriela that “if simple can find its way into parenthood, it will be a done deal.” I feel the urge to shout from my rooftop that compostables are just like using disposables, except for the final step of responsibly dealing with the diaper.
I came across this sad tale in Portland, OR from last year (see: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/05/15/184178700/dirty-diapers-pile-up-in-portland-recycling-bins-its-not-pretty). People started throwing dirty diapers into their recycling bins because garbage collection decreased. It was an unfortunate dilemma. Amping up the composting of food scraps on a citywide level and expanding the recycling program resulted in a 38% reduction in garbage. Yet the success was undermined by this contamination of the recycling stream on alternate weeks when refuse was not collected. Portland’s problem could have been avoided if they had also implemented a compostable diaper program, which is in step with Mark’s idea.
But rather than the city taking the brunt of the cost and responsibility, the manufacturers need to lead this effort. I implore all companies creating biodegradable products to take a hard look at their responsibility. The concept of biodegradable diapers is great. But what about taking it a step further and making sure that all of the ‘soiled’ diapers are properly composted? It would be very satisfying to hear from Naty on this – I reached out to them but have not heard back. I would really love to know what can be done about the portion of the diaper that is not biodegradable. Is it even possible to make a 100% biodegradable diaper?
Well done, Jenny. I have to agree with your astute approach to
“Greening of the Planet Earth,” thanks to your earlier nanny experience and now with your own private pooper, Jalen. Please continue your crusade and perhaps, in the not too distant future, you will receive the MacArthur Genius Award to help finance your efforts. With love, Dad
Maybe this will get a MacArthur Genius Award – jellyfish turned into super absorbing and biodegradable diapers, maybe fore flushable:
Jen~ It’s really amazing to read this article and all the comments there after. I feel like we share a very similar gut instinct around putting waste in its place and recycling and reusing whenever possible. It’s been important for the mission and vision of the service to align with our values as consumers and mothers and so both Jessica and I were really thrilled to find a composting facility in our state that would take them. We did a pilot run, tried different brands, got consumer input, and learned a lot about the diapers and the process of composting them. To answer your question about a truly 100% compostable diaper, it doesn’t exist yet. The tabs are plastic and neither of the manufacturers we tried had found a successful solution to that but it’s on their minds.
When composted professionally at a commercial level there are steps in the process that screen out non-compostable materials and they just get diverted to the landfill. Thus, the minute amount of the diaper that is not compostable (1-1.5%) gets put where it belongs.
I agree with you that dumping the poo in the toilet first is something I am baffled by human nature’s impulse there. There is a reason we have waste water treatment plants and why we don’t poop where we eat. Burring it in the trash or burning it in incinerators puts hazards back into our bodies through the soil and water and air. It just doesn’t make common sense. I agree that we need to educate parents and it should start with birth workers. A simple thing to mention, but truly important.
As far as the facility we use they can handle the bio solids so waste (a little or a lot of poo) is OK to have in there, but agreed that if you take it out it keep the smell in your pail down and less weight to carry.
So glad to have you as a client and if you ever want to team up on a project I think creating tax incentives for cloth or compostable diaper users through city waste municipalities would be the way to go. These families are doing good by their landfills for averting this mess and landfills are capping so this is a rising problem. Diapers are the 3rd largest solid waste stream in landfills. Cloth is certainly less environmental impact to make (as it’s a reusable item vs a single use disposable.)Check out RDA’s site about diapers as a landfill issue:: http://whatawaste.info/
Thanks for being an active advocate.
Being a long way off having children of my own, I have not yet encountered the peril of diaper domination in the trash can, but it seems like it’s an underestimated issue among us childless folk. In fact, it wasn’t an issue that had even crossed my mind until a particular article on grist.org caught my eye. It was titled: Diapers and tampons could soon be made from jellyfish” – you can see why it caught my eye, it sounds disgusting right? But it turns out this new material they’re calling “Hydomesh” could actually revolutionise the diaper and women’s sanitary products industries. You’ll be glad to hear that they’re not just mashing up jellyfish and moulding them into diapers, instead the jelly fish are broken down into nanoparticles and interwoven with other materials to create a highly absorbent biodegradable material. It absorbs more and biodegrades faster than any other product on the market, plus it would help address the issue of the over population of jellyfish in the seas proving toxic to other marine life. Hopefully by the time I have children super sustainable diaper solutions such as this will be a reality. (grist article is here: http://grist.org/list/diapers-and-tampons-could-soon-be-made-from-jellyfish/?utm_campaign=socialflow&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=update)
At long last, my son is now potty training. I’m actually going to be relieved when we’re done with diapers once and for all. Reflecting on my experience with compostables over the past 1-1/2 years, I don’t have any regrets per se. It goes without saying that compostables are an environmentally sound choice over disposables any day.
What I have called into question, however, are two things:
1) I am bothered by the fact that compostable diapers still have a non-biodegradable component (the ‘velcro’ straps) that ends up in landfills. Regardless of how small the percentage as compared to the diaper as a whole, it is something that I think about.
2) Compostable diapers are manufactured using raw materials and they are single use. This equals waste.
If I were to do it all over again, I would seriously consider cloth diapers, but only if we hired a service to do the laundering! And I would start a variation of ‘elimination communication’ earlier, not going whole hog with the concept by placing bowls and jars throughout the home as preemptive measures, but in a casual way to prepare for potty training down the road, where we are now.
Yes, my dream is still a world where compostable diapers take over and disposables become a thing of the past. Plastic diapers and biodegradable diapers alike are clogging up landfills by the billions annually. This new jellyfish diaper idea is intriguing. What happens when they get buried in a landfill? What happens when these diapers go out to sea?
Hello everyone, my name is Alyssa and I am 6 months pregnant and have been researching eco-friendly alternatives to disposable diapers. Originally I thought the solution was simple – cloth diapers – but after weeks of research I learned how they are not as sustainable as I originally thought. I am now exploring the used of compostable diapers. I live in Philadelphia and was wondering if anyone knew of a compostable diapering service in Philly.
I am living in Philadelphia and desperately want to use eco/ compostable diapers but we do not have a compost service. I spoke with a couple organic compost companies in the city and they told me that our legislators have laws against composting human waste. So even the compost companies who would want to start up a service cannot legally. The only eco friendly option here is cloth diapering- and that’s as we all know a lot of work for a on the go family. What is your advice? I would buy the compostable diapers but they will just end up in the landfill.