Tuesday, January 27, 2015

This or That (or That) | Disposable Diapers

At the end of August my family packed up (again) and moved (again).  This time we went to Northern Minnesota to a small, rural community and moved into the only rental home we could find at the time- a small 500 square foot cabin.  We love our little cabin, but one thing I don't love about it is the fact that we do not have a washer and dryer.

Throw in that both my husband and I are working 50+ hours a week right now to set up our new programs, the ability for us to stick with cloth diapers went right out the window.  The laundromat just isn't an option and right now our laundry is being done by my mom, whom we send laundry down to once a week.  This will change as soon as we buy our house, but for now we decided to spare my poor mother the stress of having to maintain our cloth diapers (which was stressing her out) and try out some disposables.

For this post I tried out three different brands of "eco-friendly" disposable diapers: Seventh Generation, Honest Co., and Earth's Best.   I will offer up some additional references from BabyGearLab's report on "The Best Disposable Diapers".  They've done their fair share of research that I simply do not have time for, so they are a great resource!

Seventh Generation | $0.38/Diaper on Average

When it came time to bite the bullet and pick up some disposable diapers I immediately went for Seventh Generation.  It's a company I know well and have enjoyed their other products, so it seemed like an obvious go-to.  When comparing prices to top brands you are looking to spend a good $0.10-0.15 more per diaper.  But in my book it was worth it.

I actually enjoyed Seventh Generation.  I ordered a large bulk box from Amazon and ended up paying only about $0.30 per diaper and the box lasted us a long time.  We didn't experience any leaks and the sizing seemed pretty true to what the packaging sets for weight limits on my tall, skinny son.   I was about ready to make Seventh Generation our go-to brand...

That was until I read the BabyGearLab report and was shocked to see that Seventh Generation only scores a 2 out of 10 for Eco-Friendliness.  This was shocking to me as some more popular non-green brand name diapers scored better.  According to BabyGearLab, the only really "green" thing about these diapers is that they do not use chlorine.  Otherwise, they are similar to non-green diapers.  And I always thought the brown color of the diapers was the result of not using bleaches and chlorine, but that is also not the case.  Turns out, they add pigments to it.  In other words, Seventh Generation is adding things to their diapers to make them appear more green, which at the same time taking away some of the eco-friendliness of their product.

BabyGearLab found the absorbency to be less than ideal as well.  I didn't experience this, but I can see how a heavier wetter definitely might.  So because of the green issue and the absorbency, in addition to the hefty price, I wouldn't recommend Seventh Generation.  Which makes me sad because I otherwise LOVE this company and would love to see them re-evaluate their diapers and improve upon them.

The Honest Co. | $0.41/Diaper on Average

The Honest Co. Diapers are cute.  The cutest disposable diapers out there, really.  You have a wide selection of adorable designs to dress up your babies bum with.  Does the cuteness compare to a cloth diaper?  IMO, no.  But if cute is what you are going for, and you don't mind forking over a premium price for it, this is a decent enough diaper for you.

When I ordered my Honest Co. Diapers I had a coupon code that made the price about $0.30/diaper and I was comfortable with that price.  Were I to have had to pay full price I never would have tried Honest Co. Diapers.  I'm far too frugal to pay a premium for cute disposable diapers that are mostly just covered up by pants.  Of course the irony there is that I will pay more for cute cloth diapers... my priorities are off.

Anyway, for us, these worked OK.  I found that Honest Co. Diapers run a little bit small.  My son should have fit into 4s just fine, but I found them to be a bit tight on him and bought some size 5s to wear at night and when I knew we'd be going longer between diaper changes.  With the 4s we experienced some leaks and blowouts, mostly up the back or the front of the diaper.  With the 5s we experienced less of that, but since I didn't know we needed to buy a size up I had to endure some leak-age because I wanted to use these expensive diapers I bought.  If I'd known that they run small and ordered size 5s from the get-go I might be giving a slightly different review.  Of course, the size doesn't really change the price and that was ultimately my biggest hang up.

In the Eco-Friendly department they actually scored a lot higher than I thought they would, earning a 7 out of 10 from their BabyGearLab report.   However, as the report points out, there are numerous complaints from consumers regarding The Honest Co.'s sales tactics, promising a "free trial" but locking you into a difficult to cancel, expensive subscription.  I avoided that by buying a la carte from their website, which you can do.  I actually found this to be a better value than their so-called "Best Value Bundle".    But if being green is a top priority, and you don't mind the cost, The Honest Co. Diapers can now be found in Target and online with home delivery, so they make a good option for those looking for convenience as well.  Just remember to buy  up a size if you are unsure at all!

Earth's Best | $0.35/Diaper on Average

I recently went to make an order on Walmart.com and had to order a bit more to get free shipping.  We were low on diapers so I looked at what they offered and found an amazing deal on Earth's Best Tender Care Diapers which made them only $0.25/diaper.  Being the best eco-friendly deal I'd seen lately, I scooped up four packages.

Like Seventh Generation, they run pretty true to size and my son fit perfectly into a size 4.  We are only a package into using these diapers, but are finding them to be a good pick for us- with no leaks and only one blow-out (which, honestly, was one no diaper could have contained!).  They are nothing fancy, but reliable for us, working great for day time and night time use.  The frugal side of me also loves that they were the cheapest option that I tried out.  But as far as convenience goes, I've never seen Earth's Best Diapers in a store.  I got my package through bulk ordering on Walmart.com, which works for me but won't work if you're in a pinch and need diapers fast!

That being said, I was again disappointed to read the BabyGearLab report for these diapers and saw they only scored a 3 out of 10 in the eco-friendly category.  While this is better than Seventh Generation, there are several non-green options (and many green options) that scored way higher.  Causing me to think twice about ordering these diapers again.   Performance wise they are the best of the three, but if they aren't doing anything for the environment, save your money and go with a cheaper brand that is just as eco-friendly.

What's Next?

It seems that I am still on the hunt for the best eco-friendly disposable diaper available on the market today.  While Honest Co. fits the bill for eco-friendliness, it misses the mark on cost and performance (unless you order a size up).  Earth's Best does it for me in performance and cost, but not for eco-friendliness.  Seventh Generation, unfortunately, fails overall.  After knowing what I know now, I wouldn't really recommend any of these brands.

Instead, I hope to take a look at the other brands featured on the BabyGearLab report, namely Bambo
Nature, which scored highest on their list with an 8 out of 10 for being Eco-Friendly.  I'm just hoping I can find them cheaper than $0.48 per diaper or my frugal side might win out.

And, luckily, once we move into our new house all of this disposable diaper experimentation will end, as we will happily be back in cloth!


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