Looking for eco-friendly disposable nappies? Here are the best eco-friendly nappies we’ve found that actually work.
I’m a huge fan of reusable nappies. When my first daughter was born, I went into using reusable nappies thinking it was all or nothing. I was going to use reusable nappies 100% of the time, and that was that. Perhaps for some parents that approach works and is entirely practical for their life. However, at some point along the line, we discovered that for us we would need to use eco-friendly disposable nappies some of the time.
So as well as extolling the virtues of reusable nappies, I’m really keen to let new parents know not to be disheartened if they have to use disposable nappies some of the time or even all of the time. For us, using a disposable nappy at night time was the difference between sleep and no sleep. And of course, washable nappies do not work for everyone’s lifestyle. For others, the upfront cost of reusables may be prohibitive.
As such, I thought I’d do a round-up of the best eco-friendly disposable nappies available in the UK.
Quick Links to Eco-Friendly Disposable Nappies
First off, here are the quick links for disposable nappy brands, in case you just want to visit the site of a particular brand. Scroll down past this section if you want more information about what makes a nappy eco-friendly, and each eco-friendly nappy brand listed.
In order to help support the running costs of Moral Fibres, this post contains affiliate links, denoted by *. Moral Fibres may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to readers, on items that have been purchased through those links. In the interests of disclosure, some brands have also paid to be featured in this article. This is denoted by **.
Can disposable nappies be eco-friendly?
Before I start, I do have some things to point out about eco-friendly disposable nappies. My main gripe is that they all say they are biodegradable. However, due to the way landfill works, nothing truly biodegrades in landfill.
Oxygen is required for biodegradable matter to break down. However, most landfill sites are so tightly packed that they do not let much or any air in. Therefore, any biodegradation that does take place does so very slowly, or it is mummified.
Biodegradable items in landfills also release a considerable amount of the greenhouse gas methane. All I will say is be skeptical of green claims of biodegradability.
Can you compost biodegradable nappies?
You might be tempted to compost nappies labelled as biodegradable instead. However, biodegradable is not the same as compostable.
Even if you were tempted to try out composting, I wouldn’t. According to RecycleNow you cannot compost biodegradable nappies in a compost bin as it poses a health risk.
Some nappy manufacturers say you can compost a biodegradable nappy at home. This is as long as you don’t compost soiled nappies. As someone who composts, this sounds like a total nightmare.
If you are using disposables full-time, or even using them part-time, then you’d need a pretty massive composter. This would be purely to hold that many nappies over a sustained period, as well as the mixed waste that composters require to work effectively. Nappies would take a long time to decompose in a standard composter, so you might end up with an overflowing before long. In short, I wouldn’t.
So what’s the point of paying more for eco-friendly nappies?
I’m not completely down on disposable nappies.
There are many plus points associated with eco-friendly disposable nappies. The first is that they are typically made with far fewer harsh chemicals compared to other nappies. The absorbent core of disposable nappies is typically filled with harsh chemicals. However, the eco-friendlier brands have found less chemical-intensive ways to create absorbency without leaks. This is good for the environment and for your baby’s skin.
The eco-friendlier brands also tend to be made from more renewable resources. As standard nappies are mostly made of virgin plastic, this reduction in the use of fossil fuels is great for the planet.
And, finally, eco-friendly nappies tend to be made more ethically. Take Pampers, who are made by Proctor & Gamble. Proctor & Gamble has been linked to human rights abuses in its supply chains. And what’s more, Proctor & Gamble has also been linked to the habitat destruction of threatened species.
Guide to Eco-Friendly Disposable Nappies
You can avoid supporting these practices by switching to eco-friendly brands, where possible. Try my guide to the best nappies that benefit both baby and the planet.
Australian-based Ecoriginals** have recently started selling their disposable nappies in the UK. This is exciting because this is the first brand I’ve come across that packages their nappies in home compostable packaging. Why it has taken the nappy industry so long to catch up on this, I don’t know, but I’m so glad someone finally has taken this leap.
Catering for sizes from newborn right through to junior nappy pants, these ultra-absorbent nappies will see you right through the baby years.
Ecoriginals say that their nappies are made from 90% plant-based ingredients. This includes materials such as wood pulp, cotton, and corn starch, as well as plant-based glue. Currently, only two of the outer components remain that are not entirely made from plants. The sticky tabs and leg elastic are not. However, both can be cut out and discarded separately after use if needed.
For added impact, Ecoriginals also plants one tree per order, and also funds plastic recycling and solar power schemes in India, to help with the transition to clean power.
If you would like to try Ecoriginals out, you can sign up for a free trial pack of 30 nappies. Just pay £4.99 shipping. Signing up for this also automatically gives you a handy 20% subscription discount for life.
Danish made Bambo Nature* nappies top the Ethical Consumer’s league table of disposable nappies. It’s also the only eco-friendly disposable nappy to be independently accredited by the Nordic Swan eco-label. Bambo Nature has an absorbent starch core, rather than a chemical-based core, and we had no problems with absorbency. The brand also avoids perfumes and other harsh chemicals, including chlorine, which is reassuring.
Beaming Baby* claims their chlorine-free nappies contain 30% fewer chemicals than standard disposable nappies. The absorbent layer inside the nappy does contain gel. However, this is primarily made from very finely shredded paper. Again, I’m happy to report zero leaks!
Moltex Oko* says their nappies are made with more than 50% renewable resources. They’re chlorine-free. What’s more, they contain no perfumes, as well as minimal amounts of absorbent gels. I also found the price comparable to standard nappy brands, which is always appreciated!
Naty by Nature
Naty by Nature Nappies* are made in Sweden from 70% natural materials. These include a combination of natural tree pulp and maize derivatives. As such, they are 100% chlorine, latex, and plastic-free.
We personally used Naty nappies for both of our kids as our main choice of nappy, mainly because they were the easiest eco-friendly disposable nappies to find – being sold in both Boots and in supermarkets. If we ran out, we could pick some up at the shop, rather than having to order more in. They also did a stellar job of keeping the contents of the nappy in the nappy. No leaks here!
gNappies* are a reusable/disposable hybrid. This means they feature washable covers with disposable inserts. As such, they could be an alternative if you didn’t want to go down the all washable or all disposable route.
gNappies say that non-soiled inserts can be placed in a home composter. Here they say the insert can break down in around 50 to 150 days. However, it may not be the green solution it seems.
Granted, the inserts are much smaller than conventional nappies. However, if you’re getting through around 5-7 inserts a day (around 40 a week), then you’re going to run into a problem. Unless you have a massive compost bin, then your composter may fill fast. I would say it will fill quickly with nappies than you can make compost. 150 days is a long time when you’re filling the composter every day with more nappies.
What is the best option?
My opinion? I know washable nappies aren’t for everyone. If you don’t use washable nappies and can’t afford the extra spend of buying eco-friendly disposable nappies then I wouldn’t worry about using standard nappies. Budgets don’t often stretch to more expensive nappies.
As parents, there are a million other things to feel guilty about, without worrying about which nappies you use. There are plenty of other more beneficial and low-cost ways to help the environment.
I would say that if you use washable nappies and are just looking for a nappy just for night-time use then I would try one of the brands listed here. The same goes if you can afford to use eco nappies full time.
I originally wrote this post back in 2013. I’ve updated it for 2022. However, my kids have grown and the nappy days are far behind us. Therefore I need your help! If there is a brand you love that isn’t listed here do let me know. I want to keep the post updated so that it can remain a useful resource for parents.
ps: I have a handy guide to ethical kid’s clothes right this way. I also have loads of ethical baby and child tips which I’ve added over the years. From eco-friendly potty training tips to my eco-friendly baby essentials and the best eco-friendly baby wipes. Do check them out!