Diaper Debate

You can’t beat disposable diapers for convenience, but some parents worry that convenience comes at a steep price for the environment. Several companies offerdisposable diapers that they claim have a gentler impact on the earth than conventional disposable diapers.

Here’s a brief look at some of the newcomers.

Flushable and biodegradable diapers

Several brands promote the biodegradable materials in their diapers, but be cautious of that claim – even biodegradable material doesn’t break down well in a landfill. But diapers that can be flushed down the toilet, such as gDiapers, will biodegrade when treated with other human waste.

Compostable diapers

It sounds too good to be true – the ability to turn a soiled diaper into sanitary, nutrient-rich dirt! The truth is, the technology works, but it’s not widely available. Compostable diapers only break down if they’re actively composted. If you toss them into your trash bin, they’ll go straight to the landfill and won’t readily break down.

While many municipalities collect waste specifically for composting, diapers are rarely accepted. Be sure to check with your local recycling service before tossing dirty diapers in the compost collection.

The few manufacturers of biodegradable diapers advise against trying to compost them at home. There’s the issue of dealing with fecal matter and pathogens as well as the problem of space – it can take about a year for a biodegradable diaper to break down, and babies go through a lot of diapers in that time.

Nevertheless, there’s growing interest in composting diapers and more options may become available. A compostable diaper service in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, has soiled diapers professionally composted, a process that takes about six months.

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