Closing the Poop Loop

Solving the diaper dilemma, sustainably.

By Leah Zerbe

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“We as a society need to begin viewing and treating all waste as resources,” says Dan Sullivan, managing editor of Biocycle magazine. “If there is something we are doing that renders our organic material as unrecyclable—e.g., we are ingesting something that renders human waste toxic to the earth—then we need to tackle the problem at its source, not curtail the process of recycling organics back into the soil.”

So far, EarthBaby has kept more than 1 million pounds of diapers out of landfills. While similar diaper-composting services are peppered around the United States, they are few and far between. But smile, baby, you have options! 

Cloth Diapers
There’s been extensive diaper debate over what is better for the environment—cloth or disposable. It takes a lot of energy to manufacture disposable diapers, and the soiled end product sits in landfills for hundreds of years, potentially leaching chemicals. On the flip side, the repeated washing of cloth diapers uses both water and energy. If cloth is your choice, wash in cold water in an energy-efficient washing machine, using a plant-based, fragrance-free detergent or nontoxic homemade soap, and then line-dry.

Less-toxic Disposables
Organic disposable diapers are becoming more common. Although they wind up in landfills, these diapers protect your baby from pesticides and bleaching chemicals while promoting sustainable farming methods.

Hybrids
Some companies, such as gDiapers, offer plastic-free, reusable cloth diapers with compostable, flushable, or throwaway inserts to lessen the impact.

Elimination Communication
Variations on this method have been used by different cultures for centuries. The goal is to tune in to your baby so you know when the baby is about to go to the bathroom. For more information on this method, visit diaperfreebaby.org.

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