Disposable diapers are the third largest source of landfill waste.  They take hundreds of years to decompose, and the average household will use 6,000-9,000 diapers in a child’s first three years of life.

But not everyone wants to use cloth diapers or a diaper-free method.  Those are all the choices, right?

Maybe not!  We found a cloth diaper service in Massachusetts which offers a compostable diaper option to its clients.  We asked Mother Herb Diaper Service owner and founder Angela Gregory to explain how this trend setting service works.

How does your compostable diaper service work?

Our compostable diaper service provides the convenience of a disposable diaper without negative environmental impacts. Our service is set-up to create ease for diapering. When you sign up as a client, you can place an order for biodegradable diapers, wipes, and bags and we’ll deliver them right to your home on a weekly or monthly basis. Each week we come to collect the dirty biodegradable diapers and bring them to a commercial composting facility to be professionally processed.

The composting facility is able to turn these plant-based diapers into nutrient rich soil in just three months! Conventional disposables, and even biodegradable diapers, thrown into a landfill will take over 250 years to decompose, and continue to leach petroleum, plastic and pathogens into our soils and waterways. We have yet to see the first disposable diaper decompose. One can imagine with a ton of diapers generated per child how quickly a landfill might cap.

You run a cloth diaper service.  What made you want to offer a compostable diaper service as well?

Mother Herb diaper service is mainly a cloth diapering service. We loan and launder premium quality organic diapers and utilize a baby and earth-friendly washing process. We’re happy to see diapers re-used, but understand that the demands of the modern family may lead some to need to supplement with disposables, or use them solely. After seeing this trend with our clients over the course of a few years, we recognized that to best service our diverse range of clients, we needed to find a way to provide an earth-friendly alternative that aligned with our vision. A compostable project was launched this winter where we tested the diapers, not only for their integrity, quality, and ease of use for clients, but also to run them through the compostable processing to ensure they were in fact breaking down. We are so excited to be able to offer this alternative today!

Can people compost their own diapers at home?

I think the question about composting your own diapers at home is a common one. It’s highly discouraged, as it is unsafe. Reaching the high temperatures required to kill harmful bacteria and pathogens found in human waste is difficult and inconsistent when using common home composting techniques. To ensure that the soil produced when our products are composted is 100% safe, we only offer our diapers and wipes as part of our inclusive service whereby the products are composted in our regulated industrial composting facility, using Federal PFRP standardards for pathogen removal. Your municipal compost is only meant to handle organic matter like kitchen scraps, lawn trimmings, and cardboard. Your diapers contain bio-solids, so these products would be unfit in the municipal stream as well.