Compostable Diapers Go from Soiled to Soil

Kimberly Delaney by Kimberly Delaney | February 5th, 2009 | 2 Comments
topic: Green Living, Healthy Home

picture-2According to the National Association of Diaper Services, more than 18 billion single-use diapers go into the landfill each year and they can take up to 500 years to decompose. Then there’s the issue of the energy and materials that go into making the diapers and the byproducts of bleaching them. Add to that the worries about the chemicals we are exposing our babies to with many popular brands of disposable diapers, and you’ll begin to see the problem.

Luckily, there are a lot more green diaper options these days for parents who refuse to contribute more diaper waste to the landfills and want healthier products for their children. Green diaper choices range from cloth diapers to greener disposables to flushables — and even to skipping the diaper stage altogether.

One greener diaper option I had not seen until now is the truly compostable diaper. gDiapers is one brand that can be composted, but the company’s website warns to only compost the wet ones (not the dirty ones). The reason behind this is that garden compost does’t tend to get consistently hot enough to kill all the bacteria, including E. coli, and even viruses in human waste.

But some innovative folks in the Bay Area have solved the problem by creating a compostable diaper service. Earth Baby makes it easy to compost every part of the diapering process including the diaper (regardless of what’s in it), the wipe and even the diaper pail bag. By making this a service, they ensure that the diapers are composted at an industrial composting plant that does get hot enough to kill off bacteria and viruses.

The diapers used by Earth Baby are made in Sweden from corn-based plastic and wood pulp. The fact that they have to travel all this way to be used and then composted means that this is not the perfect solution. In fact, even a gDiapers spokesperson readily pointed out in an email that washing your own cloth diapers is still the greenest option. But the fact is that most parents still choose some type of disposable over cloth, and a professional compost service gives you most of the convenience of disposables without the heavy environmental impact.

Green Diapers Go from Soiled to Soil courtesy of


  1. Hi,
    Thanks for the article. Just wanted to let you know that gDiapers, the plastic free, hybrid diaper between cloth and disposable are not made in Sweden. Below, is information about gDiapers and information about where gDiapers are made. Thanks!

    How are gDiapers made?
    ‘little g’s. China and Vietnam
    Our ‘little g’ pants are made in Vietnam and China. We are committed to every worker involved with our process and make sure each person is treated fairly and working conditions are constantly being improved. We ensure social accountability through third-party, independent evaluation of the factories, as well as in-person visits by our gTeam.

    Flushables. Made in Ohio, USA
    Flushables are made and packaged in Ohio. That’s right, in the good old US of A. Flushables make up the largest component of gDiapers..

    What are gDiapers made of?
    The materials in ‘little g’ pants, liners and flushables are designed with comfort and dryness in mind. Flushables are made of a water resistant, breathable outer material that keep bottoms dry and wetness away. It is made of all natural fiber and is 100% biodegradable. The interior uses elemental chlorine-free tree farmed fluff pulp and Super Absorbing Poly-acrylate to absorb wetness. These super absorbing lock away cells hold up to 100 times their weight in liquid.

    Snap-in liners are made of breathable polyurethane coated nylon, not pvc like many diaper covers. They are easy to change and rinse out. Our liners are also breathable which helps prevent diaper rash.

    Our ‘little g’ pants are made of a soft, breathable outer cotton/elastene fabric giving them a slight stretch.

    Erin | February 9th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  2. Thanks so much for your comment. The diapers that were made in Sweden are the ones used by Earth Baby and not gDiapers. The point there is that when diapers are made so far away we have an environmental impact to consider in terms of their transport. This is also true of gDiapers which you mention are made in China and Vietnam. It’s something to consider, but as with all household decisions there are trade-offs and it’s important to be clear on your priorities. For me, not contributing to the mountain of diapers in the landfill and the dioxins released from the bleaching process as well as buying diapers made from renewable resources outweighs the extra fossil fuels required for transport. We don’t have perfectly green options yet but with innovative efforts like Earth Baby and gDiapers as well as some others we have some better choices for our babies and the earth.

    Thanks also for making the point about gDiapers’ commitment to fair labor practices. This is a huge issue and it’s good to know we’re not putting our green baby’s tushies on the backs of ill-treated workers.

    Kim Delaney | February 11th, 2009 | Comment Permalink

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