The Best Eco Friendly Diapers, Ranked

We tried the leading brands to find the best eco friendly diapers for the planet, your wallet, and your baby.

March 22, 2017
baby diaper butt
CSA Images/Plastock/getty

Just before my daughter turned 6 months old, our favorite cloth diapers started to leak multiple times a day. I generally look for the most eco friendly baby products, but after weeks of excess laundry and hours (and hours) spent trying to troubleshoot the fit and possible mineral build up, I made a decision: We were going to switch to eco friendly disposable diapers to save our sanity. Because once you lose a whole day down the rabbit hole of a cloth-diapering group on Facebook, you know you need to reevaluate your priorities.

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Though at first I felt guilty for using disposable diapers, I was comforted to discover that they weren’t necessarily worse than cloth. I was also happy to discover that the options for eco friendly disposable diapers that are affordable, absorbent, and sustainably sourced have greatly widened in recent years, and it’s now possible to pick a brand that provides detailed, transparent information about their manufacturing process.

Related: 20 Things You Really Don't Need To Buy For A New Baby

But which was the best eco friendly diaper for my family—and how well would they actually perform? I decided to put them to the test.

Seventh Generation, the Honest Company, and Earth’s Best are mainstays in the eco diaper market, but I was eager to try out a few new options. A friend raved about Andy Pandy diapers and Parasol’s cute designs seem to cover bottoms all over Instagram. And I’d been curious about the 365 store brand from Whole Foods for a while since I see them every time I stop in for groceries.

To attempt a fair trial of the five leading eco friendly diapering brands, I tried each one for a few days during both daytime and nighttime with my baby. At the time of the tests, she was 8-9 months old, about 20 pounds, and was waking up once or twice to breastfeed most nights. I had been using Pampers for nighttime since they were the only ones I’d found that could handle the 12-hour stretch of time, so my bar was pretty high with overnight protection.

A note about shopping for eco friendly diapers

I know that many families rely on Costco or Target for diapers, but in my small Midwestern town, Amazon offers me the best selection and prices on eco-friendly diapers. I use their Subscribe and Save feature for an additional 20% off each month and my monthly diapering costs are about $40-$42, including wipes. (I buy a jumbo package of wipes every 2-3 months.) 

Andy Pandy diapers
1/6 Photograph courtesy of Amazon
The Best Eco Friendly Diaper: Andy Pandy Premium Bamboo Disposable Diapers

If you love the idea of using soft cloth diapers for your babe’s bum, but don’t want the chore of keeping them clean and stink-free, go with the silky softness—and incredible absorbency—of Andy Pandy diapers.

These super soft bamboo diapers from a relatively new company that’s so eco friendly that they skip all printing on their diapers and they hardly even have a website. But the cut of these diapers fit my baby so well that I was sad when my sample pack ran out. They were ample around the thighs and belly, right where my chunky babe needs a little more room. A medium fit her perfectly, though we also used a few larges that worked fine too, and they didn’t leak overnight.

Andy Pandy diapers are naturally hypoallergenic and antibacterial, so they are perfect if your baby has sensitive skin. The biodegradable bamboo material feels almost like silk (really!) and there are no chlorine, preservatives, phthlates, latex, pvc, or fragrances. And there’s a handy wetness indicator helps to avoid wasting not-too-wet diapers.

The biggest downside is that they sometimes run out of stock and there could be a delay in your supply. I hope that as this company grows, the accessibility will improve because these diapers are fantastic, especially if you are used to and prefer the feel of cloth.

WHERE TO GET THEM

$.046 per diaper on Amazon, where 71% of reviewers give them a 5 star rating (and many of the lower stars are for availability issues). 

seventh generation diapers
2/6 Photograph courtesy of amazon
The Runner Up: Seventh Generation Chlorine-Free

If you want to use eco friendly diapers that don’t break the bank, buy unprinted Seventh Generation diapers either in bulk or through Amazon’s monthly deal. Chlorine-free, made with wood pulp that’s sustainably sourced and FSC certified, and made without lotions or fragrance, these have been a mainstay in our house for the past few months.

They are soft, absorb a ton of liquid, and fit my daughter well. They are not as generous through the belly though, so I expect to have to size up before she hits the 28-pound upper limit of the size 3s. One other downside: They don’t seem to make overnight strength until size 4, which means that it often means risking leaks to put my daughter to bed wearing one of these if I’m too tired to do a 2 am diaper change.

WHERE TO GET THEM

$0.29 per diaper with the monthly Amazon subscription. Seventh Generation diapers are also widely available at grocery stores and other major retail stores.

earths best diapers
3/6 Photograph courtesy of amazon
Also Very Good: Earth's Best

Another good basic option is Earth’s Best. These diapers are affordable and absorbent. They fit my baby well, though were not as soft as the Andy Pandy. (Well, nothing else is as soft!) These hit all of the same eco-markers as Seventh Generation and are free from chlorine, latex, and fragrances—and are made with plant-based materials. They do have some printing and are white, so they appear to have a few more steps in the manufacturing process.

WHERE TO GET THEM

Earth’s Best Diapers are $0.27 per diaper using Amazon’s monthly subscription.

honest company diapers
4/6 Photograph courtesy of the honest company
Expensive But Adorable: The Honest Company

If you prefer diapers with cute designs, you’ll want to reach for either those from The Honest Company. Their  monthly bundle subscription option lowers the price a bit, but you definitely do pay a premium for the designs.

Honest Company diapers are made from “naturally derived, plant-based, and sustainable materials” and are also free from chlorine, fragrances, lotions, and latex. They use wood pulp from sustainably managed forests and have a detailed map on their website showing where all of the materials are from—including plant-based PLA from Washington state, absorbent bio-core from Texas and Quebec, chlorine-free wood pulp from Finland, and lead and heavy-metal free dyes from Mexico.

WHERE TO GET THEM

The most affordable option is the $79.95 a month bundle. The cost looks high at first glance because it includes wipes as well. Per diaper, these cost about $0.32 using the bundle option. (Without the bundle savings, they are $0.41 per diaper for size 3. If you’re a new customer, you can usually find a $20 off coupon.)

parasol diapers
5/6 Photograph courtesy of parasol
Also Expensive But Adorable: Parasol

Parasol diapers are made from polypropylene, polymer, chlorine-free wood pulp, and polyethylene—which are big words that mean that they aren’t made from petroleum-based materials. Quality-wise, we liked these and from a design perspective, they win for their beautiful packaging and prints. But since I really don’t care what our diapers look like, especially since they are hidden under clothes 99% of the time, I couldn’t get past the $70 per month price tag. They were also a bit tighter around the belly on my babe, which may or may not be an issue with your little one.

WHERE TO GET THEM

Subscription options include $85 a month for diapers and wipes, or $70 a month for diapers only. 

365 diapers
6/6 Photograph courtesy of Whole Foods Markets
Flimsiest Of The Bunch: Whole Foods 365

While I probably would have relied on the chlorine-free Whole Foods brand in a pinch (they run about the same as Seventh Generation pricewise when buying in the store), they seemed much flimsier in comparison to the rest of the bunch. And they for sure won’t last all night if you have a heavy wetter, so if you use them for daytime, you should have a more absorbent option for nights.

WHERE TO GET THEM

Whole Foods Markets.

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