gDiapers

Now here is a diaper product it seems like I can really throw my weight behind: Flushable diapers! What a neat idea: putting the solid waste where it belongs, in a toilet, rather than a landfill. Another environmentally friendly alternative to disposables, and perhaps these diapers are even a bit better than cloth (and certainly use less water, for those of us who like to conserve). It’s hard to know for sure, but it does seem like this company has done its homework: they’ve accounted for their environmental impact, they’ve tested their product on 6 different US toilet brands, they’ve followed these diapers through the waste management system as well as conventional composting, they’ve made sure that the companies they work with operate under fair labor laws, and truly seem to care about kids, diapers, parents and the planet. Neat! And really refreshing to see. I’ve always assumed that when I have a kid eventually, s/he is going to have a cloth-diapered tush, but now, who knows….maybe s/he’ll wear flushables. Check it out!

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10 Comments

  1. Posted November 22, 2005 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    This all sounds great, except for one thing: I don’t think biosolids from sewage plants are always, or even universally, used as fertilizer, and there’s some debate about whether they should be, on account of we can’t stop people from putting toxics and heavy metals into the sewage system, so the “sludge” is considered by many to be at least unsafe for fertilizing food.

    Also, I think their language in talking about the potential sustainability of tree farming compared to cotton production is biased. Cloth can be made in many and not sustainable ways, and so can tree products. But cloth still will take much less energy and yes, water, to produce than the needed much larger amount of disposables or flushables, and at least for disposables that outweighs the water used in washing cloth. (But that could be the plastic exteriors.)

    I don’t mean to be a wet blanket–I’m very glad to see that people are experimenting with changes in how we do diapers. And actually, now that I think about it, the poop from cloth diapers probably ends up in the sewage system anyway, so my first critique may be unfounded.

    And since they are seeking out certified foresty products, and referencing environmental God Bill McDonough, I have to believe they are on the right track. Still, what they are writing themselves is advertising. I’d love to see what someone like E Magazine ends up saying about this.

    Miriam

  2. Posted November 22, 2005 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Argh. That should be ” Cloth can be made in many sustainable and not sustainable ways, and so can tree products.”

  3. Posted November 22, 2005 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks for the mention about gDIapers. My wife and I are the founders.
    I wanted to respond to a few of the concerns Miriam has raised. In doing our research, the EPA states that 80% of Biosolids are used to rehabilitate land because of their excellent water storing properties. I just met with the Bureau of Environmental Serevices where we are based in Portland, Oregon and they said that 100% of their biosolids are used in this manner. On the east coast where there is less land to rehabilitate, Biosolids are put into landfill, which is a shame. But 80% overall isn’t a bad strike rate.
    You are spot on about issues around the use of Biosolids. We understand that they cannot be applied to organic food crops as yet. But any diversion away from landfill that rehabilitates land is a step in the right direction.
    I think in terms of cloth, if you avoid cotton – organic or not, that is the right way to go. Cotton is the thirstiest crop out there, no two ways about it. The PET plastic recycled covers that come out looking like fleece are very smart.
    In terms of upstream cost, disposable diapers completely lose the race to gDiapers and cloth because of the plastic. Polypropolene is an oil based product. In fact there is a cup of oil in every disposable diaper. Thus this week, Kimberly -Clark and P&G raised their diaper prices 6% given the hike in oil prices.
    The fundamental approach at gDiapers is making a resource out of waste. Compost the wet ones and you get great fertilizer. Aussies have been doing it for 15 years. And this is why we are working with Bill McDonough. Any day now, we are receiving his “Cradle to Cradle” product accreditation. And the process was very rigourous as you can imagine. Just as stringent was applying to become a member of the Co-op of America. They were very detailed in their analysis – particularly in the areas you have raised around the sustainability of trees. But they were sufficently satisfied to grant us membership.
    The pants we sell work really well with cloth and in Australia many cloth users use our pants with their cloth diapers. And then they use the flushables overnight or when they are out and about.

    I think E Magazine is going to do something on us after our launch. Hope its good!

    Cheers

    Jason

  4. The Student
    Posted November 23, 2005 at 1:40 am | Permalink

    Hi, Mir: You have a lot more experience critiqueing these kind of things than I do, so thank you so much for all the good points you made. I wouldn’t have even known about the biosolids issue…and what is this intriguing E magazine thing? Must check it out. And look: an actual *discussion*, about diapers, on my blog! *dies happy*

    Jason, thanks for reading and responding! I’m not an expert in the field at all, but to me it does sound like you guys are working very hard to make your product the absolute best it can be in terms of quality and low environmental impact, and that’s more than can be said for many, many, many other companies, sadly. Personally, I think that even if it is a toss up between cloth or flushables, both options are still so much more preferable (x 1000) than the disgusting disposible option that squabbling over the finer points seems kind of moot. If we can just get more families to start to use *either* option (cloth or flushable), we’re making a huge impact. Viva le diaper revolucion!

    (I would also just like to take this opportunity to reassure all my skeptical readers: no, I am not on the gDiapers pay-roll.) Hasta!

    ;-)

  5. Posted November 23, 2005 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    It is a mightily complex issue. All the lifecycle analyses on disposables vs cloth done to date have been industry funded (that’d be the disposable diaper industry not the cloth industry!) so surprise surprise, disposable diapers aren’t so bad after all! Thus 95% of Americans ( and Australians!) use them.

    I really appreciate Miriam’s questions. We are at the beginning stages of the business and your input helps us gain knowledge to continue to improve the product. The fundamental objective is to be hands down the most environmentally responsible diaper option. Your comments help us get there.

    So thank you.

    Cheers

    Jason

  6. The Student
    Posted November 23, 2005 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Funny about those “studies”…so many studies in the drug/medical industry are the same way.

  7. Posted November 30, 2005 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Jason,

    Thanks for responding and clarifying the difference between land rehabilitation and fertilizer reuse for biosolids. I think for people like me who’ve seen and critiqued a lot of attempts at greenwashing, acknowledging that you’re not necessarily claiming to be way better than cloth (it’s not like you need to cut into cloth users to get a market share, as you’ve pointed out!), would be the surest route to credibility. As, of course, is Co-op America and Cradle-to-Cradle certifications.

    Student,
    E Magazine is at http://www.emagazine.com. They rock.

    Miriam

  8. Posted November 30, 2005 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    By the way, Jason, you guys get the prize so far for religious self-Googling and responding. I don’t think I’ve found a single mention of you that you haven’t commented on! ;> Miriam

  9. schn6935
    Posted February 3, 2006 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I am a senior in Civil Engineering at the University of Idaho, specializing in environmental sustainability, and I would like to clarify some misconceptions that I have found universally across the web regarding waste treatment and biosolids. I am also a mother of two, expecting my third, and my level of education ont his matter will be affecting the choices I make in diapering my new daughter. The most viable alternative to disposable diapers I have found thus far are the gDiapers. The material inside is wood pulp, a magnificent organic material for turning into biosolids, and as one of the most useful applications for biosolids is in timber fertilization where it actually speeds timber growth, this epitomizes the ideals of Cradle-to-Cradle. The myth about biosolids being “harmful” is perpetuated by ancient water treatment practices which are long-gone and a pervading ignorance throughout the public substantially increased by the “ick factor” commonly associated with the recycling of any product from a wastewater treatment facility, including the treated water itself. Biosolids are better regulated today and far cleaner than most of the places to which they are even applied. What studies found problems with this reclaimed sludge were first performed back in the 70′s; recent studies have found little to no indication of the presence of harmful chemicals or metals. Also keep in mind that simply referring to the land application of a material does not mean that the material has to be used for garden fertilizer. Biosolids have proven to be exceptional in mine reclamation studies, for instance. The point is, this is the best option out there. There is simply no safer alternative regarding the environment than sending a biodegradable material to a wastewater treatment facility. I applaud Jason and his wife for bringing the option to America; I eagerly await its arrival in Idaho.-Marie

  10. michael
    Posted December 3, 2006 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Great to read debate on the disposal of diapers and some concern for our planet.

    For Trendy Diaper Bag Information

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