Looking for eco-friendly disposable nappies? Here are the best eco-friendly nappies we’ve found that actually work, without leaks.
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, quite quickly into first-time parenthood, we discovered that for us we would need to use eco-friendly disposable nappies at least some of the time.
So as well as extolling the virtues of reusable nappies, I’m really keen to let new parents know that they shouldn’t 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 The Best Sustainable Nappies
First off, here are the quick links for disposable nappy brands, in case you just want to skip to information about a particular brand. Scroll down past this section if you want more information about what makes a nappy eco-friendly, and information on each eco-friendly nappy brand listed.
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 sceptical of green claims of biodegradability.
Can you compost biodegradable nappies?
You might be tempted to compost nappies labelled as biodegradable. 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 compost bin before long. In short, I wouldn’t.
So what’s the point of paying more?
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, 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, which 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.
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.
What I like is that Bambo Nature has an absorbent starch core, rather than a chemical-based core associated with standard nappies. The brand also avoids perfumes and other harsh chemicals – including chlorine – in their nappies, which is reassuring. I tried Bambo Nature on my kids, and we had no leaks, so it’s a big thumbs up from us!
Beaming Baby claims its chlorine-free nappies contain 30% fewer chemicals than standard disposable nappies. Meanwhile, the absorbent layer inside the nappy does contain gel. Instead, it is primarily made from very finely shredded paper. Whilst you might think that shredded paper doesn’t sound very effective or absorbent, again, I tried this brand out on my kids, and again I’m happy to report zero leaks!
Moltex Oko says its 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. This was mainly because they were the easiest eco-friendly disposable nappies to find at the time – 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 faster with nappies than you can make compost. 150 days is a long time when you’re filling the composter every day with more nappies.
I am sceptical. However, if you can’t switch to full-on reusables, but are looking to slim your bin, then it could be a good option to help reduce the volume of nappy waste going in your bin.
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. Otherwise, focus on what you can do.
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!