Eco Disposable Nappies are an Oxymoron

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Baby lying down looking out of a window wearing a reusable cloth nappy

Eco disposable nappies - a wolf in sheep's clothing?

As parents, we all want to make the best choices for our children, and that includes choosing the right nappies, we hear all too often that parents are choosing eco disposables thinking they are doing a good thing.

With so many brands claiming to be eco-friendly, it can be confusing to know which option is truly best for the environment. But here's a controversial fact: eco disposable nappies are an oxymoron. Brands that are claiming to be better for the environment are often greenwashing, and parents are being misled into thinking that they are choosing an eco-friendly option when they are not.

In this blog post, we'll explore why so called eco disposable nappies are not the solution they claim to be and why reusable nappies are the best eco-friendly choice. 

What they don't tell you

To understand why eco disposable nappies are an oxymoron, let's look at what they're made of.

Eco disposable nappies use the same amount of raw materials as conventional disposable nappies. This also means they require the same amount of energy and resources to manufacture, with the added costs of using eco-certified materials. As a result, eco disposable nappies have a similar environmental footprint to conventional disposable nappies and are a significant contributor to waste – either in landfill or incinerators.

Despite claims of being biodegradable or compostable, the reality is this is not what happens when they are disposed of. They are often mistakenly put into domestic recycling causing contamination resulting in more waste being created.

No standards for plastics labelled as biodegradable or compostable today makes them suitable for disposal in the open environment.

And more on this here the evidence is undeniable and plentiful.  

Do eco dispoables really have a better carbon footprint? 

Another concern with eco disposable nappies is the amount of water and energy needed to produce them. A study comparing seven traditional plastics, four bioplastics and one made from both fossil fuel and renewable sources determined that bioplastics production resulted in greater amounts of pollutants, due to the fertilizers and pesticides used in growing the crops and the chemical processing needed to turn organic material into plastic.

Whilst they produce significantly lower greenhosue gas emissions during their production, the bioplastics also contributed more to ozone depletion than the traditional plastics, and required extensive land use. Many eco disposable nappy brands use non-renewable resources in their manufacturing process, which significantly contributes to their carbon footprint.  

You're better off with cloth

While eco disposable nappies are being marketed as a good compromise between the convenience of single-use nappies and the desire for eco-friendliness, the reality is that they are not a sustainable option. There is no denying that reusable nappies are the most environmentally friendly option. For a start they cause significantly less waste, emit 25% less CO2 and require 98% less raw materials to manufacture.  

There are other benefits to choosing reusable options as well. Reusable nappies are cost-effective, with the potential to save families hundreds of pounds in the long run, even when laundering is taken into consideration. And with advancements in garment technology, reusable nappies are more user-friendly than ever before. They are easy to use, easy to clean, and come in a wide range of very cute designs.  

Eco disposable nappies are an oxymoron. They are not a sustainable option nor the most eco-friendly choice. As parents, we have the power to make informed choices for our children and the world they will inherit. We’re not saying don’t use disposables ever, but if you need to go for disposables, pick the ones that works best for you as there is no environmental benefit in choosing brands that are making misleading claims about how eco-friendly their products are. They may have cute fluffy marketing (and you will pay a premium for that too) but the reality is the only fluffy thing about them is they are a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. 

By choosing reusable nappies over eco disposables, we are doing our part in reducing resource consumption and preserving our planet. Moreover, reusable nappies come with other benefits that disposable nappies can't match, making them an excellent choice for both our babies and the environment.


*Source Anja Krieger - “Are bioplastics really better for the environment? Read the fine print.” 

Baby lying down looking out of a window wearing a reusable cloth nappy