More about those diapers

gdiaper.jpg sevgen_diaper.jpg

I published a new and updated review of “green” diapers (Seventh Generation, Whole Foods 365 Private Label and gDiapers).

There’s a lot of new information, much of it gained from very recent email exhanges with the companies involved, as well as some more thorough research on the net.

The new review complements the old one with many new facts and considerations about:

  1. The safety of SAP
  2. The lack of biodegradation of (even) green diapers in landfills
  3. Polypropolene as an ingredient
  4. The biodegradability of gDiapers in sewage, and SAP again
  5. What does “chlorine-free” mean, what’s the difference between ECF and TCF, and does it make a difference, e.g., between green and non-green disposables?
  6. And where does the woodpulp hail from?

If the article concludes anything, it is that the choice of diapers is not as easy as it seems, even after you’ve made up your mind about “going green”. For instance,

if I accept that SAP is safe and non-toxic to babies and to the environment, all three diapers reviewed here, and indeed all disposables, are acceptable. But then I ask, what about the other ingredients? If the polypropolene bothers me, I should switch to gDiapers. But what about the wood pulp in gDiapers? Does it matter that it is only Elemental Chlorine-Free (ECF) and not Total Chlorine-Free (TCF)? Come to think of it, this ECF claim that is so intensely advertized to make the green diaper look better, also applies to much of the pulp used in Huggies, for instance? On the other hand,  how sure can be be of that? And also, some of the Huggies wood pulp comes all the way from Australia, where do Seventh Gen, 365 and gDiapers get their wood…

Suggestions and comments are welcome: please make them to this post (still haven’t figured out the comment-on-pages issue).

Join the Conversation


  1. This is a GREAT review and really nice research–thanks for doing it! I cloth diaper for many of the reasons you mention here, but was looking around for reviews for disposables for the few times I use them. I’m impressed you’ve taken the time and energy to research this. It’s nice to know there are thinking people out there considering the truth/importance of the claims companies make.

  2. Someone needs to tell gDiapers (which I thought I liked) that pulp from SFI certified forests are CLEARCUT. The Sustainable Forests Initiative (SFI) is a green-washing attempt by the lumber industry to find their own green certification guidelines with no one watching. They need to buy only FSC Certified wood pulp, which is 3rd-party verified. See here: for more info.

  3. Thanks Dave! I hadn’t checked out SFI. I’ll go and do some more digging and will present this issue to gDiapers as well – though they still have to get back to me on the long-standing issue of *where* exactly the woodpulp comes from – perhaps not a coincidence?

  4. Dear mama
    Hi I has been reading today your blog over the green diapers and i will like to put a couple of comments, or corrections:

    I’m a General Manager of one manufacturing unit in the Middle East, I’m from North America, but for some funny reasons I’m working over here.

    1. All the disposable diapers from the western or civilized world, we need to use , and special kind of pulp denominated Fluff pulp, this material or the right raw material for making this pulp, comes from one special kind of pine denominated Loblloly pine, that only they grows in the southern part of USA, the main characteristic of the fibers of this pine is the lenght, that is around 6 times larger than the fiber from the eucalyptus, mostly used for facial tissues (Kleenex, Sccotis, etc).
    2. There are some others source of fibers almost similar to the Loblolly pine mostly from the Scandinavian countries, but are not long enough, they are like 4 to 4.5 times the lenght of the eucalyptus, this into the performance of the diaper they will affect because if you want to give a better performance you will need to add more SAP.
    3. The manufacturers of Fluff pulp are no more than 5, all are in the US and are very reputable organizations like Georgia Pacific, Weyerhauser, Rayonier, International paper, etc. and all of this make Basic chlorine free pulp, under the most ecological conscious manufacturing process.
    4. In China, as well as India they are companies supplying some kind of Fluff pulp and superabsorbents, DO NOT TRUST IN QUALITY FROM THESE SUPPLIES, By disgrace and i know the subject as a manufacturer, and i has been seen the samples of this raw materials, and them apart of the low performance once we request them the certification from Medical Clearance requested for the manufacturing of diapers, no one as up to know is giving an answer.
    5. The complete chlorine free pulp is nothing more than one non full bleached pulp, that in order to make a diaper work the manufacturer needs to add more SAP.
    6. yes, The SAP in small doses is not so harmful, but do you see the desiccant bags into the electronic equipments, have you been open one??, the superabsorbents are the same.
    7. The modern superabsorbents are the result of the polymerization of Glacial Acrylic Acid, with Sodium Bicarbonate and additives, they have impact over the environment because at the end are an oil derivated product.
    8. The only less harmful superabsorbents are a new generation of secuestrants or retainer gels derivated from the corn, that now are becoming populars over all in the feminine care business.

    I have 17 years in this industry, and three kids, and i know something over the subject, if you have any doubt please don’t hesitate to contact me.

  5. Thanks for all of the research you did! It really helped me sift through all of the diaper options.

  6. Now this is investigative blogging! Well done! Thanks so much for doing the research that the rest of us feel guilty about not doing. This is extremely helpful – I appreciate your efforts so much.

  7. ive been using nature babycare diapers for a while now. Do you have any info on this company? they are from sweden and they say they are 100% biodegradable. any info would be helpful.

  8. Hi Sofiesmom,
    what a coincidence! When we were in Singapore we ran out of diapers. Now, Singapore is a fully (if not, consumer-wise, MORE) developed country and most of their consumer products come from Europe, with European supermarkets, etc. And the only green diapers available were these Nature Baby Care ones.
    For one, they were SO EXPENSIVE! I don;t know how much they are where you’re at, but DH and I nearly capitulated and bought the Huggies for less than half the price. I’ll ask DH how much they cost (I’ve blocked it out of my mind) and will do a price comparison with Seventh Generation, for instance.
    In any case, we bought them. I didn’t like them much. They absorbed well and we sprung no leaks. But I hadn’t had the opportunity to do a background check – still haven’t, but will. And, more urgently, they were very hard and stiff. Also Amie is growing out of green diapers and the biggest size available only just fit. I couldn’t believe the difference between these stiff Nature Baby Care diapers and the o so soft Seventh Generation (which is now the only brand that fits her).
    So, in short, as soon as we get through this flu I’ll get back to you on that brand!

  9. Hey brookline mama!
    thanks for responding! I get the nature babycare diapers from and they are pretty good so far not to $$, I think 11.99 per pack? WHat I am most shocked about is the fact that this country does not biodegrade anything. Do all countries do this? How are we supposed to save the planet? So basically, are we just throwing money away by buying any type of green diapers? should i just use conventional diapers then? they are alot easier to find.
    Im confused now.

  10. Thanks so much for this investigation. As a soon-to-be new mom (due in July!!) I’ve been exploring every alternative to disposable diapers that I can find. I think it’s important to demonstrate to him or her from day one that i wanted to leave her with a healthy planet…it’s just so confusing to weed through the claims, jargon and marketing. Thank you for laying out all of this…I’m definitely passing it on to my mommy friends… :)

  11. Hi Sofiesmom
    True: if you throw it into the trash, it goes into the landfill, and then it matters not one iota whether the diaper is “green” or not. So the biodegrading thing is entirely up to you: you compost it (depending on which diaper and whether you want SAPs in your compost) or you bring it to your town’s compost heap (if they have one and if they will have it).
    But there are still other reasons for not buying the average diaper.
    1. green diapers weren’t bleached with chlorine, so their production was a little more planet-friendly and perhaps also more healthy for baby’s bottom,
    2. most green diaper manufacturer’s are concerned with whether their wood pulp comes from sustainable forestry,
    3. green diapers contain plastic, but much less than non-green ones.
    It’s up to you to weigh whether that is sufficient reason to shell out an extra couple of bucks.
    Hope I haven’t confused you more!
    Katrien (BrooklineMama)

  12. Visit to learn about Nature Babycare. sells them. They have NO plastic and no SAP. We love them more than Seventh Generation, which didn’t fit my son and has the gel in them.


    Nature babycare is the result of many years of intense work and development. It is the first ECO-friendly high-performance diaper, based on new green technology, protected by a Swedish patent. The diaper is soft, thin, comfortable and with perfect sizing. It’s performance is as good as the best ”traditional” diapers. It has an exclusive 100 % chlorine free absorbent material and the material against the baby’s skin is based on corn instead of plastic like traditional diapers, 100% compostable, breathable and extremely kind for the baby. The packaging is 100 % compostable and based on corn.

  13. Hi Peony,
    I’ve done some investigations on Nature Babycare and still have many questions – the same ones I had for all the other green diapers.

    Unfortunately their website – – is not very informative with regard to the specifics. There is, for instance, nothing there about SAPs. For instance, that a diaper is 100% compostable doesn’t mean there are no SAPs in it, because, as we’ve seen gDiapers argue: you can put SAP in your compost (if you don’t mind the fact that they *don’t* break down). Also, under the FAQ “what are the main differences…”, it states that “60% of the content is biodegradable and of biological origin compared to about leading brands who content 80% for oil based.” So what is that other 40% about?

    Many questions, but they haven’t replied to my emails.

    I’ll keep pursuing it, though!


  14. From Peony’s #13 post, quoting Nature Baycare’s website:

    It has an exclusive 100 % chlorine free absorbent material and the material against the baby’s skin is based on corn instead of plastic like traditional diapers, 100% compostable, breathable and extremely kind for the baby. The packaging is 100 % compostable and based on corn.

    From brooklinemama’s #14 post:

    Also, under the FAQ “what are the main differences…”, it states that “60% of the content is biodegradable and of biological origin compared to about leading brands who content 80% for oil based.” So what is that other 40% about?

    Here’s my personal interpretation of how you could reconcile the wording: While the filling’s wood pulp is 100% chlorine free and biodegradable, the SAP it’s mixed with, which they don’t mention, is not BD or of biological origin(?). (part 1 of the 40%)

    The corn based packaging and the filmy material between baby’s skin and the pulp/SAP filler may be 100% compostable/BD, but what about the waterproof outer backing/cover material? The closure tabs? The leg gathers? (part 2 of the 40%)

  15. Hi Stacy,

    thanks for the interpretation! It sounds about right. Unfortunately, despite several emails to the company, I haven’t had any response.

    It’s my impression – from the popularity of this article, for instance – that parents want clear answers, the truth and nothing but it. We’re informed, we know about about SAPs, we know about “biodegradability”.

    It disappoints me that Nature Babycare is not clear about their product and that we have to do all this interpreting to reconcile their own reports.

    But I’ll keep trying! If we can’t expect companies to be clear about their products, it’s up to us to make them answer our questions.

    Update: we’re potty training here!

  16. What a wonderful exploration and discussion of this important subject! Thank you! I found your site by way of researching whether we should switch from Seventh Generation to Nature BabyCare. We actually really like Seventh Gen and have used them with two kiddos now (well, sort of, since our daughter was mainly in cloth), but we are always on the look out for something greener. Anyway, I’d love to hear more about this, especially if you do hear back from Nature BabyCare. I agree that it is quite a complicated issue!

  17. Your research on this subject is so impressive I cannot even explain. I am attending a Eco-Mom Alliance meeting tomorrow and I am going to “attempt” to discuss a few points on the diaper “controversy”. Your information has helped my knowledge of this topic immensely!! So thank you!!
    One thing.. you mention briefly about Tushies being totally chlorine free. But I believe they are SAP free too.. I thought that would be very important to mention..
    FRom Tushies Website
    “Because Tushies Diapers DO NOT contain a superabsorbent, parents will change diapers
    more frequently, resulting in less probability of diaper rash which can be caused by
    leaving a superabsorbent diaper on too long.

    We’re delighted to hear from hospitals – they like using our GEL-FREE Tushies
    size small diapers because they receive a more accurate urine test without
    the chemical superabsorbents. And–it’s easier for Moms & Dads to
    tell whether or not their baby has urinated enough and whether or
    not the baby is receiving enough milk.”

    Let me know what you think..

  18. Thanks for all of this research – I’ve been researching the whole “green” diaper, disposable vs. cloth. And living in Seattle, this choice has major social implications. People are very angrily opinionated out here.

    What I have seen, at least for my area, is that the impact of cloth vs green disposable comes out at a tie – especially with water issues heating up here and world wide (news flash, the wars of our children’s generation will be about water access, not oil).

    A friend had tried the gdiapers, which seemed the way to go, but had so many leaking problems, they had to stop.

    Thank you as well for covering the environmental factors that go IN to making diapers (manufacturing, shipping etc), as, ultimately that is just as important as landfill issues.

    What I found on the web was an Australian company called Safties Nature Nappy. While I have not gone extensively into the SAP et al research, they say they use only 10% wood pulp and sounds like how they are manufactured is better for the planet than the average green diaper. They were planning to distribute to the US by ’06 but still don’t. So still holding out hope that there will be a diaper that is manufactured in an eco way, not just disposed of well!

  19. I am glad you put info on Naure Babycare diapers. I use them when we go out and like them a lot.

  20. I am glad to see info on Nature Babycare Diapers. I use them in addition to cloth and I like them very much.

    I get them at Target and they are not that much more expensive then the same size package of Huggies. I don’t mind paying a slightly higher price for them.

  21. I am so glad you researched and wrote this article! I write about cloth diapering and green living on my blog, and I was wondering if I could directly link this article? Please let me know. It is very informative, and I’d like to share it with my readers, too.

  22. I have been doing some research on “greener” disposables and SAP and ran across this very informative post. Thank you!

    To weigh in on the Baby NatureCare diapers . . . I was under the impression that they DID contain SAP. We are giving away an “organic diaper cake” made from these diapers right now on the Green Baby Guide. The information sent to me by the diaper cake company says they use “no oil-based plastics.” I’ve noticed that several of these green disposable companies claim to be plastic-free while using SAP–which is a “superplastic.” I am not sure how they are defining it.

    Thanks again for such an informative and exhuastive analysis of the options. Please stop by the Green Baby Guide sometime and chime in with your knowledge!

  23. Thank you posting such valuable information!I am due to have my first child soon and have been researching alternatives to using traditional diapers. Your site has helped me make a bit more sense out of all of the ‘eco-friendly’ diaper claims. Keep up the good work!

  24. Canadian startup Lysac has invented a non-petroleum biodegradable version of SAP.

    They recently sold out to Archer Daniels Midland (ADM “Supermarket to the World”). See

    I’m pretty disappointed in the level of disclosure on these various “enviro” diaper options. There’s a lot of really poopy greenwashing going on here. Curiously it may be a very non-green company (ADM) that brings real green options to the table.

    The Rayon in gDaipers, however, seems to be the real deal. Korean researchers found it does indeed degrade both in sewage sludge and soil.

  25. Thanks for all this research. I’ve bookmarked this and refer to it time and again. Now that baby is 7 mos old and more predictable in his cycles, I am cloth diapering part time. I use 7th Gen and Nature Babycare otherwise.

    By the way, just tried a pack of Earth’s Best, who makes similar “green” claims. Their diaper smells like conventional diaper. Very suspicious. Sent them an email asking for ingredients and haven’t gotten a response. Even more suspicious.

    >Mama Ash: Even “eco” diapers are bleached, just that they use non-chlorine bleach. And 7th Gen’s are not “not bleached”. They add a colorant to give them that unbleached look. You can read all about it on their web site.

  26. Ok, so what do we use? Seriously! Cloth diapers are exorbitant, waste tons of water and leak.. Pampers/disposables are chemical waste dumps (but work great and are cheap) And the “biodegradable” diapers get locked in landfills forever. I just want to know what to do to be more green. I compost but can’t picture my little pile of dirt in the corner of my yard full of diapers this summer. HELP!?

  27. Janet,

    If you are worried about landfills, but don’t want to use cloth, gDiapers would be the way to go. They’re expensive, though. You could also use any disposable green diaper and dismantle it – tear off the plastics, “shred it”, etc. – even if only the wet ones, and add it to your compost pile, but then if you’re worried about SAP that may not be an option either.

    Honestly, I don’t know. I myself would try the composting, and if that didn’t work out, go cloth.

  28. Janet,

    I hear you. Thanks to all of Katrien’s research, it’s pretty clear that there is no satisfying answer here. For my part, I’ll just do the best I can.

    The plumber arrives tomorrow to free a gDiaper insert from my bathroom pipes. It was my fault, I think, for not destroying it thoroughly enough with the provided stick. Still, I usually have to flush a couple of times to get those things down, not sure that’s helping the world out too much.

    7th Generation has worked pretty well for me so far. But I do feel bad throwing them away. The usual method is to pack them into a plastic grocery bag, which then goes into the outdoor bin. Which is picked up every Wednesday and taken to the landfill. I feel guilty about that, but at least they don’t clog the pipes.

    Katrien, thanks for putting in all the time to research this topic – you’ve obviously hit a nerve with us all. I understand how Janet feels. Adulthood sucks sometimes.

  29. Hi, I was wondering whether you’d heard of this company or their diaper line (Nature Babycare). Not sure if these are more biodegradable than the rest, but there is a facility here in northern california that supposedly composts the diapers!

    I have to check more about this (and in fact am meeting a rep. from the composting facility for an unrelated matter), but perhaps this is hopeful for solving the biodegradable/actually going to biodegrade conundrum…

  30. Hi Pam,
    we’d love it if you could ask your contact. i never heard back from Nature BabyCare. In fact, i was going to write an updated review of green diapers but then life got away with me. Info like this, though, could get me going on it!
    Thank for investigating!

  31. Thank you for the very thorough research. We actually started using cloth diapers on our 6 month old about 3 months ago with good results. We just couldn’t stand the amount of trash we were disposing, it was embarrassing not to mention the toxins. We use the 7th Generation diapers for when going out and about.

    Thanks again for taking the time to do this, much appreciated.

  32. Wow, 35 comments! So far! Thank you all for commenting, it really gives me a good feeling. I try to answer all question or go into requests, but my life is now such that there is very little time and, honestly, it is also… tada: diaper free! Yes, it happens, one day YOU TOO will have no worries about diapers. Just hang in there.
    So this was just a comment to say thanks to all commentors,
    Katrien, aka. BrooklineMama

  33. It is my understanding that Tushies (which is now marketedby the same company as TenderCare, but is a different diaper) is the only disposable out there without SAP in it. Still plastics on the exterior, but no SAP. We use them when cloth diapers are just too impractical, like a weeklong trip away from home.

    Also, I would just comment that compared to repeatedly buying disposables, cloth diapers are NOT more expensive. I tried to find a good comparison site, and these two are well-reasoned/citated, though both let their bias preference for cloth show through:

  34. “What I found on the web was an Australian company called Safties Nature Nappy.”

    Unfortunately, more greenwashing is alleged! They are under investigation by the ACCC:

    It is great to read this detailed research and ongoing discussion and links to relevant information – I have read it all and bookmarked it!

    Whatever we can do to reduce our environmental footprints by educating ourselves as critical consumers is good – though sad that so much greenwashing and semantic splitting of definitions is used to confuse us.

    The next step for eco-conscious parents is to consider incorporating a little Baby Pottying – The Elimination Communication method is an ancient way to gradually reduce your use of diapers, one at a time.

    May I offer a link to my resources helping families ease into EC part-time? I am really enthusiastic about helping families ease into baby pottying as a way to reduce diaper washing and waste.

    I have put together a free introductory series of emails – a guided tour about the best attitudes to adopt when beginning EC. It’s very popular, with over 880 members as of today.

    Here is a link:


  35. Oops, forgot to add that link:

    “Nappy biodegradability claims declared false and misleading

    The Federal Court of Australia has declared that claims that an Australian developed nappy was ‘100% biodegradable’ were false and misleading after Australian Competition and Consumer Commission legal action.

    The biodegradability claims were made by Perth-based SeNevens International Ltd in connection with its Safeties Nature Nappy product.

    SeNevens marketed its ‘100% biodegradable’ Safeties Nature Nappy and nappy disposal bag in Western Australia from November 2006 before expanding to all Australian States and the ACT in March 2007. SeNevens withdrew the product from sale in April 2008 following the ACCC’s investigation into its claims.

    Claims that the whole of the nappy, including nappy disposal bags, were biodegradable were made on the product packaging, in promotional material and on SeNevens’s website.”

    “”This case will serve as a warning to those businesses looking to prey on the growing consumer preference for biodegradable products,” Mr Samuel said. “If a business makes biodegradability claims then it must ensure the claims are supported by rigorous scientific evidence.”

    Consumer concerns about the veracity of green marketing claims have led the ACCC to develop Green Marketing and the Trade Practices Act, a publication providing guidance for consumers and business on environmental claims in advertising. This publication can be downloaded from the ACCC’s website.”

  36. thank you so much for sharing all of your hard work and research. i am trying to make an ecologically smart choice for my new baby and you had many points that had not occured to me. thanks again ~ Leah

  37. i love this post, and refer to it time & time again. i’ve been using g-diapers from the beginning, with nature babycare as occasional alternative, and i’m very happy with how they both work. NB has almost never leaked for me, and g-diapers never – since i watched their common-sense video on fitting. if baby has gotten a diaper rash -rare anyway- it’s been our fault (food, length of time in diaper, etc), not the diaper’s.

    note, a new alternative on the market that i’m considering to use as replacement of our occasional NBs – i’ve already bought my g-dipe larges) is broody chick’s 100% “natural” diapers.

  38. I am expecting my first in a month or so and had registered for Nature Baby Care, but just recently got around to actually reading the literature on their site. The site is VERY clear (maybe this is new as the other posts on this site reference confusing language) that their diapers are NOT 100% biodegradable. From the FAQs section on their website: “At Nature Babycare we use renewable resources whenever possible, however our diapers are not 100% biodegradable.” They say this probably 3-4 times in different places in their FAQ section.

    The Size 1 package even states “Do Not Compost” (on the side of the package, in small print).

    Not sure this lives up to my idea of sustainability. However, they seem to get lots of good reviews from parents for other reasons, so I’ll probably try them and the G’s and see where we net out…

  39. Hi Brookline Mama.

    I just wanted to thank you sincerely for the hard work and research you’ve done for all of us parents and children – as you already know from the commments – we appreciate it.

    About halfway through the comments I thought “this was back in 07, her child must be off diapers by now” and lo and behold, I was right. So it is not unnatural that your capacity/time (but not your interest) is dwindling. Now, if only someone could pick up where you started… :/
    Thanks again, this was much needed.

    From a concerned father-to-be,

    – Chimaobi

  40. Thank you for all of you very well researched information.
    In light of your obvious care and concern over the subject of disposable diapers I wanted to ask if you had reviewed the Broody Chick diapers that claim to be 100% biodegradable and chlorine free. I would like to know if you have any information on these? Thanks for such a helpful post!
    Katie M.

  41. First of all – Wow! What amazing research you’ve done! I found your blog by googling 365 Everyday Diapers. I usually cloth diaper but my son has thrush and everytime I put him back in cloth the diaper rash breaks out, so unfortunately SAP is my friend at the moment.

    What I can tell you is that here in the San Francisco Bay Area we have two companies who do commercial diaper composting. The compost from compostable diaper is processed separately from municipal compost (which we also have), heat treated, and then used for non-agricultural projects (like highway median landscaping, etc.).

    The service I use, Tiny Tots, requires that for single use diapers that you use Broody Chick diapers – a new brand out of Victoria, BC, Canada (where I grew up, I’m proud to say!). There is also another diaper similar to the gDiaper which offers a compostable insert that Tiny Tots offers.

    Nature Babycare compostable diapers are also used in the Bay Area by the other commercial diaper composting service.

    Hopefully other cities in the US and Canada are catching on.

    From a mom experimenting with different options.


  42. excellent stuff! Thank you so much. We used cloth with our first child but now the daycare we attend says the state of CT won’t let them use cloth because it is unsanitary. It really makes me mad but now with our second baby we are forced to use some type of disposable so I am trying to make sense of all this. You have helped tremendously.

  43. Thank you so much for this review – very helpful. Do you have any info on people who’ve tried to set up a separate compost just for the biodegradables? My husband and I are thinking of doing this. Though not a perfect solution, seems it’d reduce the landfill component significantly if we composted them as much as possible, protecting groundwater w/ a liner, then threw the remnants in the trash.

  44. Wonderful Diaper Review! Thank you!

    Altough we planned a home birth, our son was born in the hospital and his first diaper experience was with a conventional brand. Just a few diaper changes in and he developed a rash. At home we began cloth diapering, and the rash disappeared.

    When on the go or for the night we have used a local diaper called Broodie Chick diaper:

    They make claims to be totally biodegradable. And in Vancouver we have residential compost pick where the diaper can be composted. Sadly not for apartment buildings.

    For a user review – we have loved Broodie Chick diapers, because they have fit our super fast growing baby well, absorb super well, and only let out the occassional leak of the super explosive poo.

    Their cost locally is $16 CAD.

    So along with cloth diapering these have been great.

    Z – Vancouver Mom

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