Diapers: In the trash? Or in your recycle bin?

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to recycle single-use diapers.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to recycle single-use diapers.

There is no way around it if you want to be a responsible recycler. Diapers cannot go into the recycle bin. Disposable diapers contain many different materials, some recyclable and some not, but all of it is contaminated with human waste. That waste creates a dirty and unhealthy problem for single stream recycling. Although some parts of the diaper may seem recyclable, or similar to other items in your bin, they are not. There is currently no technology out there that can separate and recycle the paper material in a single-use diaper.

Your most environmentally friendly solution is to make the change to cloth diapers.

Your most environmentally friendly solution is to make the change to cloth diapers.

Cloth and disposable diapers equal out to have around the same environmental footprint (raw materials being used versus water and soap to clean the reusable ones) but where they do not equal out is their long-term impact. Cloth diapers can be used over and over, saving some families up to $2000 over their lifetime. But disposable diapers take about 500 years to decompose in the landfill. If you are worried about initial investment and cleanliness, there are a lot of amazing blogs online that talk about the best way to launder and how you can get hand-me-down cloth diapers from friends! It may seem difficult to move away from disposable diapers or to learn to compost them but think of it this way, your child’s diaper that is disposed of in the trash will remain in a landfill for at least 5 more generations. That is not a very great legacy to leave for your future grandchildren and great-grandchildren!

So the next time you change a diaper remember to avoid the recycle bin and think about avoiding disposable diapers all together.