The creation of the disposable diaper can be traced back to a nun who worked in a hospital in Ohio in the 1950s. According to historians, she proposed that Procter & Gamble, a giant in the U.S. consumer goods market, should invent a replacement for cloth diapers. The reasoning behind this was to create a hygienic product that could ease the workload of mothers.
Since the creation of the disposable diaper, the industry has grown to generate $65 billion per year. Disposable diapers have expanded to countries across the globe, but the convenience of these products comes with an environmental cost. The reason for this is because disposable diapers have traditionally been made out of non-recyclable polyethylene plastic, which takes several hundred years to decompose. During the decomposition of these diapers, toxic chemicals and microplastics are released into the environment, diseasing coral reefs and killing marine life.
Babies poop about four or more times a day, and there are over 300,000 babies born worldwide every day. Until babies are potty trained, they go through hundreds of billions of diapers each year. Additionally, one baby creates about 1,000 pounds of poop a year and runs through 7,000 diapers before potty training, so there is a lot of untreated waste and non-biodegradable waste that ends up in landfill sites.
Disposable diapers made with plastics are some of the most prominent items at landfill sites in the United States and Europe. The reason diapers have become a threat to marine life is because plastic diapers have entered into countries with less sophisticated waste management systems. For instance, the population on the island of Java, Indonesia has doubled over the past 45 years, and the waterways are clogged with plastic trash, including plastic diapers, as a result.
In an effort to make environmentally and socially responsible choices when it comes to raising a child, several companies in the disposable diaper industry have developed eco-friendly, disposable diapers over the past several years. Because the average parent doesn’t want to deal with the mess of cloth diapers, the eco-friendly, biodegradable diapers may be a step in the right direction towards a healthier, less contaminated planet. In addition to the sustainable materials that are used to make the diapers, they are more effective at protecting a baby’s sensitive skin.
If you are entirely opposed to using disposable diapers, no matter how environmentally friendly they are, reusable cloth diapers are cost effective and beneficial for the planet. Even if you consider the water, detergent, and energy that is used to wash cloth diapers, you’ll still spend a third of what you would otherwise spend on disposable diapers. We aren’t advocating for plastic disposable diapers and we aren’t demanding that you only use cloth diapers. Our intention was only to present you with both sides of the equation and show you that, if you have a baby, environmentally responsible companies have created biodegradable diapers that are safer for the planet, and even safer for your baby.