Greener Disposables—Compare and Contrast

It’s been a while since we’ve discussed chlorine-free disposable diapers on this site and in our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide. With my diapering days well behind me, I haven’t been able to try any of these out on a real-life baby. Has anyone had a chance to compare the brands below? Which do you prefer, and why?

Seventh Generation Chlorine Free Baby Diapers

Earth’s Best TenderCare Chlorine Free Diapers

Nature Babycare Eco-friendly Chlorine-free Diapers

Tushies Diapers

gDiapers

Bambo Nature Chlorine-free Eco-friendly Baby Diapers

Am I leaving out a great brand of chlorine free disposables? I know Whole Foods makes a store brand that ends up being more cost effective than Seventh Generation. What else do we need to know in this complicated world of greener sposies?

Anatomy of a Disposable Diaper

Ever wonder what a disposable diaper is made out of?

The “breathable” outer layer is typically made of polyethylene, a thermoplastic.  Inside that you’ll find a blend of cellulose pulp (in most brands, wood pulp is bleached with chlorine) and absorbent polymers.  You may also find Velcro or adhesive tabs, chemical “wetness indicators” that change colors to show when the diaper is wet, and scents or lotions.


Check out this website for more detail on how a disposable diaper is made.

Most diaper companies do not use recycled materials to make their diapers, so the wood pulp is derived from freshly-harvested trees.  The polymers that keep disposables dry on the outside and absorbent on the inside are petroleum products, but in the future manufacturers could try making these layers out of recycled milk jugs.  (I am not a chemical engineer, so someone correct me if this idea isn’t feasible.)  Even Seventh Generation, who makes a chlorine-free disposable diaper, does not use any recycled materials for the poly-wraps on their diapers and training pants.  Their website says they plan to “upgrade this to 50% recycled content” in 2008.  We’re not sure if they accomplished this goal or not!
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The Best Eco-friendly Diaper Websites

Diaper girlIn real life, it’s often hard–or even impossible–to find cloth diaper supplies.  Big box stores like Target or Babys-R-Us sell a few cloth diapers, but these are generally the flimsy varieties that are better used as burp cloths.  If you want to get started with cloth diapers, your best bet is to find a brick and mortar store in your town.  Here in Portland, I’ve had good luck at Mother Nature’s (for new supplies) and The Children’s Exchange (for used supplies).  Joy purchased all her cloth supplies at Bambini’s in Eugene, which carries both new and used items.  In your local shop, it’s possible to look at the diapers, ask the shopkeepers questions, and avoid shipping costs.  Many stores will offer starter kits so you can get everything you need for less than buying everything piecemeal. 
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