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You wear them when you’re young and sometimes you wear them when you’re old – of all the things to plan for when having a baby, diapers are perhaps the least glamorous.
They smell, they cost money, and you’re going to be changing them five to six times a day.
If you’re at all environmentally conscious, you’ve also probably realized there’s a lot of potential for waste involved. So what’s a parent who’s got eco on the cerebro to do?
Unless you decide to get cloth diapers, which most parents don’t due to their inconvenient nature, you’re going to be using disposable diapers.
But fear not! We’ve put together a list of nine of the best disposable diapers that are not just friendly to your baby’s bottom, but to animals and to our planet as well.
In this article, we’re going to give you the rundown on vegan eco-friendly diapers: what’s in them, what to look for, and what we think are the best options out there.
Cloth vs disposable diapers
Back in the old days, before all of our newfangled technology, there was only one type of diaper available: cloth. Although most parents nowadays opt for disposable diapers, good-old cloth diapers have started to make a bit of a comeback due to their cost-saving and eco-friendly nature.
While in some cases cloth diapers may be a bit easier on the wallet and the environment, they do come with a number of disadvantages.
Although disposable diapers can be conveniently thrown away after a single use, cloth diapers need to be cleaned very thoroughly before reusing them, which can be pretty time consuming and unpleasant. The process of cleaning them can actually end up using lots of water and electricity, which negates some of their ecological benefits.
Thankfully, due to the growing interest in sustainable diaper choices, a number of brands sell environmentally friendly disposable diapers, some of which practically close the gap entirely between them and their cloth competitors.
Brands like Andy Pandy go so far as to make biodegradable bamboo diapers, which greatly reduces land pollution. In other cases, the environmental harm is simply tempered by only using plant-derived materials.
Disposable diapers also tend to be more breathable and absorbent, which can mean more comfort for your baby. That said, disposable diapers are also more likely to contain dyes, fragrances, and other chemicals that can cause irritation and diaper rash. (1)
Since disposables are so absorbent, parents often become less diligent about changing them once every two to three hours as recommended, which can compound this issue. However, it’s possible to find brands without irritating chemicals – we put some on our list at the end of this article!
Despite these issues, disposables tend to make life a lot easier for parents that already have their hands full, which is why the vast majority choose them over their cloth counterparts. Some brands offer features like wetness indicators, which can be a big help to new parents who are navigating the waters (no pun intended) of raising a child for the first time.
All things considered, disposable diapers tend to be the best choice for most parents.
What makes a diaper eco-friendly?
Good news: it’s possible to find diapers that reconcile the convenience of disposables with the eco-friendly nature of cloth. While most environmentally conscious diapers won’t reach the pinnacle of sustainability that cloth does, many will come pretty darn close!
The gold standard for sustainable nappies is biodegradability. There are a number of diaper lines out there that are 100% biodegradable – if you’re worried about waste, this is about as good as it gets! These tend to be made from bamboo, so they are usually completely natural. (2)
Another thing to consider is waste from the manufacturing process. Some brands, such as Earth + Eden, produce all their products in a zero waste to landfill facility. As the name implies, brands that engage in this production practice don’t send any trash to landfills.
Other brands simply make their diapers from completely plant-derived materials, which makes them a little less harsh on the environment.
What should I look for in a disposable diaper?
The number of different options available when it comes to diapers can be overwhelming. Here are the features you should pay most attention to:
Diapers are made out of a large variety of different materials ranging from cloth, to hemp, to bamboo, to plastic fiber. In general, the further toward the plant end of the spectrum you go, the more eco-friendly the diaper will be.
While there may be exceptions to this rule, brands that use exclusively plant-based materials tend to do so for environmental reasons, meaning sustainability is something they took into account when designing the diaper.
Perhaps the most important feature of diapers is their absorbency.
Combined with leakage protection, this aspect of a diaper helps to keep pee inside, and not all over the crib. It is often believed that synthetic diapers win out in this regard as they can employ extremely absorptive materials that expand to many times their size when wet.
However, it turns out that in consumer testing, eco-friendly diapers took home the prize for most absorbent diaper.
Leakage protection goes hand in hand with absorbency when it comes to keeping everything well contained. While absorbency deals with soaking up pee, leakage protection makes sure poo and any excess urine that isn’t absorbed stays within the confines of the diaper.
For the most part, this comes down to a good fit. Many brands include a cuff around the legs to keep everything nice and secure. Some diapers double up on this front, utilizing one cuff on the inner lining and one on the outer lining.
This dual-layer protection decreases the odds of your baby’s waste making its way outside of the diaper.
Comfort is perhaps the most elusive of diaper features: what is comfortable for one baby may be irritating for another.
Diapers that fit well and utilize layers of breathable material will usually add to the comfort level of the nappies, but it is hard to tell in advance what your baby will like. Diapers that are too tight or not breathable enough can lead to diaper rash, which definitely isn’t fun.
Added dyes, chlorine-bleaching, and other synthetic additives can also lead to irritation, so it is often best to stay with plant-based materials.
Some brands of diapers include a visual indicator that changes when exposed to moisture. Babyganics, for example, has designs that disappear when the diaper comes in contact with pee, letting you know it’s time to change your baby’s diaper.
For experienced parents, this feature may be unnecessary. However, new parents who are still learning often find it very helpful.
Dyes and other additives
Synthetic dyes, chlorine bleaching, and added fragrances can all lead to irritation. Using hypoallergenic and plant-based diapers can usually mitigate this issue, but they may not avoid it entirely.
From biodegradable bamboo to zero waste to landfill manufacturing, there are a number of eco-friendly features and production practices that diaper brands employ.
The best thing for the environment is biodegradability, followed by using only plant-derived materials and sustainable manufacturing processes.
No disposable diaper is going to be 100% eco-friendly, so it’s important to decide what aspects of sustainability are most important to you, and what you want the trade-off between convenience, functionality, and environmental responsibility to be.
What are the best disposable diapers?
Now that you know the ups and downs of disposables as well as what to look for when purchasing diapers, it’s time to look at a few of the best sustainably designed options we’ve found.
We’ve put together a list of nine diapers suitable for vegans and for the environment. Read on to see our reviews and top picks!
Earth’s Best TenderCare Chlorine-Free Disposable Baby Diapers
Earth’s Best focuses on ensuring that all their baby-care products are safe and non-toxic to children.
Their TenderCare line of diapers lives up to their goal by offering a chlorine-free, latex-free, dye-free, and fragrance-free product, limiting the number of potential irritants that will come in contact with your baby’s bottom and cause diaper rash.
Considering the raving reviews from many parents who have been using these diapers for many months, it seems Earth’s Best has succeeded in creating a product that avoids the dreaded ailment almost entirely.
As far as being eco-friendly goes, Earth’s Best doesn’t take many precautions on that front. While the absence of synthetic additives reduces harm to the environment, the diapers are not biodegradable and not recyclable. The packaging, however, can be recycled.
Despite the underwhelming sustainability features, they are certified cruelty free by Leaping Bunny, which is a major plus in our book.
- Certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny
- Recyclable packaging
- Not biodegradable
Earth + Eden Baby Diapers
Earth + Eden clearly puts a lot of thought into the sustainability of their products. Although these nappies aren’t biodegradable, they are produced in a zero waste to landfill facility, meaning pollution from the manufacturing process is greatly reduced.
These dependable diapers tout a very substantial 12 hours of leakage protection to help keep moisture well contained. They are also hypoallergenic and free from many harmful chemicals, which can help keep your baby’s bottom as soft as…well, a baby’s bottom.
However, despite the claims of the brand, there are many complaints of leakage and odors escaping, so your mileage may vary.
The diaper is split into three layers: first, there is an outer cover optimized for breathability, then a cotton dryness layer inside of that, and finally a completely hypoallergenic inner liner. All these components work very well together to provide maximum comfort for your child.
The major upsides to this line of diapers is that they are totally non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and eco-friendly. However, in terms of leakage protection and odor control, these don’t compete so well with other brands.
- Produced in a zero waste to landfill facility
- Hypoallergenic and non-toxic
- Leakage protection is not as good as promised
Babyganics Ultra Absorbent Diapers
Like many of the other diapers on this list, the Babyganics line of disposable diapers is free of chlorine, latex, and fragrances, all of which can be irritating to your baby. In fact, all of the materials in these diapers are completely plant-based, which should put any parent’s mind at ease.
One nice feature of these is that they include a wetness indicator. When your baby wets him or herself, the animal prints disappear, letting you know that the diaper is due for a change. This can be very helpful for both new and old parents alike – it’s quite convenient!
Outside of the plant-derived materials, Babyganics doesn’t do anything particularly special to ensure that these are eco-friendly. However, the owners of the brand are parents themselves and say they’ve tried to do their best to find a good balance of practicality and sustainability, and we applaud their efforts.
The sizing on these diapers tends to run small, so if you’re thinking of trying these out, you may want to get one size up.
- Plant-derived materials
- Convenient wetness indicator
- Diapers run small, so you may need to buy one size up
The Honest Company Club Box Diapers
Jessica Alba’s household goods brand, The Honest Company, focuses on making ethically sourced and produced goods. These nappies are definitely no exception to their rule: cruelty-free and plant-based, these are not only friendly to your baby, but to animals and to the environment as well.
The diapers feature a technology called TrueAbsorb Core, which claims to hold 17 times its weight in fluid. If their claims are true, this is a major advantage as it will greatly reduce leakage. They also feature the trademark Honestly Secure Fit, with a sturdy cuff around each leg to help keep the diapers snugly on your baby.
The material on these diapers can be a bit scratchy, causing some irritation around the legs and they also become rather hard when wet, which can be an issue. These problems can be exacerbated by the fact that some babies will find them too tight.
The prints on these are absolutely adorable, so that might offset some of the problems. Overall, quite a good brand of diapers.
- Adorable prints
- Very good absorption
- Material is somewhat scratchy, leading to irritation around the legs
Bambo Nature Eco Friendly Baby Diapers Classic
Bambo strives to make the least irritating diaper possible, and it seems like they’re right on target with this line of eco-friendly nappies.
These diapers are the only ones on our list to receive the Danish Asthma/Allergy certification as well as the Nordicswan Ecolabel. They are dermatologically tested, FSC-certified, and free of every known allergen that can cause localized irritation. Quite an accomplishment!
They are free of any materials that can be carcinogenic or mutagenic and they maintain a dry environment to help prevent and heal diaper rash. When it comes to diaper safety, Bambo means serious business.
Not only are these diapers easy on your baby, but they are also completely biodegradable – that’s about as eco-friendly as you can get!
The only complaint we have about Bambo is that they aren’t quite as absorbent as we’d like. This is a problem particularly during nighttime, as it can lead to a wet bed.
All in all, we think these diapers are great. Eco-friendly and safe for your baby – what’s not to like?
- Free of all known allergens, carcinogens, and mutagens
- Not as absorbent as we would have hoped. This can be a problem, especially during the nighttime
Seventh Generation Free and Clear Sensitive Skin Baby Diapers with Animal Prints
The first thing we need to get out of the way before doing a proper review of these diapers is that the prints on them are LOUD. We were a bit taken aback by just how much is going on.
While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we didn’t find these particularly stylish. Don’t expect your baby to be crawling down the runway at Paris Fashion Week in this collection.
Seventh Generation’s diapers are all about breathability. They feature a very breathable layer that they call FreshAir, which pulls moisture away from your baby’s skin. There is also soft quilting on the inside to keep your baby comfy.
Outside of the aesthetic issues, these diapers are rather thin, which leads to problems keeping everything contained. Blowouts can be a major issue unfortunately, which definitely doesn’t help their already lacking appearance.
As far as your baby’s safety, these diapers are free of most harmful chemicals, and as for the environment, the diaper fluff in these is made from sustainable materials. Not bad for the planet, but not as good as biodegradable diapers either.
In the end, these diapers probably won’t irritate your baby, but they may not keep pee and poo well contained either.
- Free of harmful chemicals
- Made of sustainable materials
- Busy design can be a bit of an eyesore
- Issues with blowouts and keeping pee and poo inside the diaper ?
ECO BOOM Baby Bamboo Biodegradable Disposable Diapers
Let’s get right to it: these diapers are biodegradable.
Major win for ECO BOOM on the environmental front! We haven’t come across many diapers that have this feature, so this should automatically put them somewhere at the top of the list for any eco-conscious parent. To take things one step further, even the package is biodegradable.
However, due to the huge focus on sustainability, they don’t seem to pay as much attention to functionality: they lack some of the fancier, high-end features you find in other diapers – there’s no fancy proprietary moisture-absorbing technology here! That said, these work pretty well and they make for a good, no-frills diaper.
The only real issue we’ve found is that they can leave some type of material on the baby’s bottom, which may not be great for him or her. This is rather surprising, as they’re supposed to be made of all-natural bamboo.
If simple, biodegradable diapers without any frills is what you’re looking for, these may be a good choice for you. Just be on the lookout for any concerning residue on your baby’s behind.
- Made from bamboo which means they’re totally biodegradable – the packaging is too!
- Can leave a residue on your baby’s butt, which could lead to irritation
- Will break down to quickly at times, leaving clothing wet
Dewor Baby Premium Bamboo Disposable Diapers
Dewor offers an alternative for those seeking a simple and effective bamboo diaper. Just like the last diaper line we looked at, these are 100% biodegradable, which is great for the environment.
These are very back-to-the-basics diapers: no designs, no new-fangled technologies – just plain, white, soft diapers. By nature of being natural, these nappies are easy on your baby’s behind, reducing the risk of irritation or diaper rash.
Unfortunately, these also tend to run a bit big, making blowouts more of an issue than they should be. We also found that they seemed to get very damp overnight and stick to the baby, which could lead to irritation.
For the most part though, these did keep all the moisture contained and seemed fairly comfortable. Definitely pretty good all around, and if sustainability is high on your priority list, these are worth checking out.
- 100% bamboo means eco and baby friendly
- Runs a bit big, leading to blowouts
- Can get overly damp during the nighttime
Andy Pandy Premium Bamboo Disposable Diapers
Although the poorly designed and photoshopped packaging might fool you, these may very well be the gold standard for sustainable diapers.
Not only are these made of 100% biodegradable bamboo, but they are also super absorbent and reduce the risk of blowouts by a ton due to superior leakage protection. They even come with a “NO LEAK GUARANTEE”, so if you’re not happy with them, Andy Pandy will refund your purchase in full.
The company is owned by a mother, and you can really feel the passion oozing out of every diaper – at least…we hope that’s passion. And if not, thank goodness for the money back guarantee!
Andy Pandy truly put a lot of effort into making a diaper that is not only eco-friendly, but also odor resistant, leak resistant, and all natural to keep your baby free of irritation. They also come with a convenient wetness indicator, which can make it easier for you to know when it’s time for a change.
To top it all off, Andy Pandy is a proud supporter and contributor to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. When you buy these diapers, not only are you helping keep the planet and your baby’s bottom safe, but you are also helping to support children in need at this renowned hospital. Doesn’t seem like you can go wrong with these diapers!
The only problem we could find with these is that they seem to run a little large. However, in the face of all the wonderful things that come along with these diapers, this isn’t going to be a game changer for most, especially since you can adjust by buying one size down.
- Completely biodegradable
- Free of toxic additives
- Each purchase supports St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital
- Diapers run large
What is the best eco-friendly disposable diaper?
When it comes balancing responsibility to our planet with functionality and practicality, Andy Pandy takes home the first prize. Their diapers are 100% biodegradable, free of toxic additives, and to top it off, some of their profits go to support St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
However, that wouldn’t mean much if it weren’t for the fact that the diapers themselves are some of the best we’ve encountered. They are very absorbent, they do a great job of protecting against leaks, and they’re quite comfortable from what we can tell.
By keeping everything plant-based, Andy Pandy reduces the risk of irritation caused by synthetic materials, which is something any parent can get behind. If you’re looking for a sustainable diaper, this is definitely your best choice.
Parenting is hard – there’s no sugarcoating it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make your life a little easier by finding a diaper that works well for you and your baby. With all the options out there, there’s no doubt you can find a line of diapers that will keep you, your baby, and our planet happy.
If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.
About The Author:
Phil Grossman is a lifestyle, real estate, and culture writer based out of New York.
A polyglot who speaks French, German, Spanish, a bit of Japanese, and a little Norwegian, Phil likes to put his love for language to good use both through traveling and writing in his second language: music. An experienced composer, Phil teaches and writes both electronic music and music for media.
Phil has been interviewed on the TODAY Show and featured on CBS 2 News, Anderson Cooper 360, and in the Journal News for his work as an education activist. Passionate about many different societal and institutional issues, Phil has shifted his current focus towards veganism and environmentalism.
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- The Bump Editors | Diaper Decisions: Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable | https://www.thebump.com/a/cloth-diapers-vs-disposable
- Sophie Hirsh | Are Diapers Biodegradable? Here Are the Most Sustainable Diaper Options | https://www.greenmatters.com/p/are-diapers-biodegradable-compostable