How long does a diaper take to biodegrade?

Updated: Aug 22, 2019

This diaper washed up after a storm at our local beach, where we swim, fish and play. It's disgusting that it was in the water and it's a disturbing reminder how they do not break down. It simply sank to the sea bed and became an eco system for weed to grow on before being spat out during the storm.

With the invention of the disposable nappy in 1948 by Johnson & Johnson and encouragement from paediatricians to not rush toilet training, much of western society embraced the use of nappies.

Worldwide, nappies account for 1 – 2% of the world’s non-biodegradable waste. The standard claim for the decomposition rate of a diaper is around 500 years to fully decompose. What that means, is that all disposable diapers that have ever been produced and used are still somewhere.

What baffles me, is how quickly the concept of disposable diapers has taken hold. While there are many other cultures in the world that still practise a more natural approach with considerable less waste, our Western ways have led us to 'lock the dirt in' - into a non-breathing, non leaking package meanwhile not at all considering teaching our babies a clean and healthy approach to toilet training.

Parents can be seen online making jokes of their 3-4 year old 'messes' or making excuses and claims to justify their approach. In all fairness, this approach is the current 'normal' - but I would like to share that it's not the only way and you can absolutely start toilet training with a baby. You can considerably cut down your use of diapers - save yourself money and lighten your environmental impact.

Just think - a generation ago, most babies were placed onto a potty. Some babies even sat on a high chair - with a potty base. This was normal along with cloth diapers. Generally children were out of diapers from a younger age. Now days, toddlers are too large to sit on a potty and may start training directly onto a toilet. It is most likely they will learn first to control their wee before their number 2. This approach is not the only approach. Changing dirty diapers for years is not even necessary and can be managed in a much cleaner way.

I would love to share with you all an approach based on elimination communication, with diaper support. Follow and easy plan to educate your baby on clean and natural elimination practise. Visit for more information. Keep your baby clean and help clean up our environmental impact.

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