Going Biodegradable

I am really not a fan of disposables .. after all I do have a cloth diaper store .. but there were times when I wished there was a guilt free option.  I did traditional disposables on my now 8 year old, and every time we threw one out, I hated it.  It plagued my greenie conscience and hurt my wallet (we worked out he cost around $4000 to diaper in the end).  With Braden the bulk of the time, I am perfectly happy to have him in cloth, but there has been the odd time that I wanted a guilt free disposable option.

I found that with three products, disposable inserts that biodegrade and in one case flush (if your plumbing can handle it).  gDiapers flushable inserts, GroVia biopads, and Flip disposable inserts (version 2 — version 1 was just like a maxi pad).  The gDiaper and Flip versions work best for me when you use a cover that you can tuck them in to, and the GroVia version works great in a cover that has no tucking as there is an adhesive.  We used these inserts on trips out of town.  That way I only had to wash covers if I needed to, although in both trips I took sufficient covers that I didn’t have to wash.  I didn’t want to ruin my regular cloth diapers by washing them in another washer, not knowing what detergents had been there before hand.

Recently GroVia came out with another option.  They now have a BioDiaper.  All bar the elastic in the legs and the closing tabs have been tested for being bio-degradable.  Pricewise, they are up around the cost of the more expensive disposable options, so they are not about economics, they are about convenience without harming the environment.  The smallest size was however too big for a newborn.  We had an 8 pound baby in the store recently and I asked the parents to try it out on him when he needed changing but the Size 1 was simply too big.  I was rather disappointed as I had hoped that the size 1 would be a great option for newborns before they had finished passing meconium.

So how does this new biodiaper perform?  Well I blush to tell you the test that I inadvertently had Braden do … my darling husband is not always as prompt as he should be when it comes to changing Braden’s diapers.  He came to pick Braden up at the store one day when I had to stay late to wait for a customer.  The biodiapers had just arrived and we opened a packet to test on him.  When I got home 3-4 hours later, I asked Greg if he had changed Braden … the answer was no … and I was saying “Umm he is in a new diaper that I don’t know how it will perform, he is likely a wet puddle!”.  But he was not.  That diaper was full but there were no leaks.  So it performs well.

I must confess that I wont be reaching for these for Braden.  They are pricey.  And it is still creating some trash, even though it will break down.  But if you need something for a trip, or a bad rash, then these do work.  They come in 4 sizes, but as I said the smallest is too big for an 8 pound newborn.  The size 3 just fit Braden at 33 pounds.  I will likely continue to use a the biodegradable inserts in his existing covers for when I need to deal with a rash or go on a trip, but it is really nice to know that if I had an extended trip planned, or did not know if I could wash covers, that this is an environmentally friendly solution.

So what about the all important costs?  Lets compare.

Brand/

Product

Cost per Packet Number per Packet Cost per Insert/

Diaper

gDiaper Flushables

Small

14.49 40 36 cents
gDiaper Flushables

Medium/Large

14.49 32 45 cents
GroVia Pad

20 count

7.99 20 39 cents
GroVia Pad

50 count

19.99 50 39 cents
Flip Disposable 4.95 18 27 cents
Grovia Biodiapers

Size 1

16.99 40 42 cents
Grovia Biodiapers

Size 2

16.99 36 47 cents
Grovia Biodiapers

Size 3

16.99 32 54 cents
Grovia Biodiapers

Size 4

16.99 28 60 cents

It has been a long time since I bought a packet of regular disposables, and I know that back with Connor I used to buy them in bulk from Sams club to keep costs down. I did a quick search on Amazon, who very nicely prices things out per piece, and prices of disposables varied a lot by brand, and tended to be anything from 20 cents a diaper to 45 cents a diaper. So yes the GroVia biodiaper is more expensive, but the costs to the environment are far less.

Gro Baby Biodegradable Soaker Pads vs gDiaper Biodegradable inserts

So the burning question, which biodegradable insert/pad is better? To be honest I like both so this is a tough one to say either way. There are advantages to both, so let me lay out my observations from having used both on my son.

gDiapers were my first system, and I am very loyal to them as a product line. But I am going to try and be very objective here.

gDiapers
* Larger Pad so takes up more space in your bag.
* Simple rectangular shape (which is one of the reasons why it is so easy to find cloth inserts to fit the gDiaper system).
* ALL of the unit is flushable, not just parts of it. (Though our cheap builders grade toilet never coped with flushing).
* Compostable (as is the Gro Baby)
* I have to use half a flushie or a small flushie folded in half under the main flushie to get good absorbency for my heavy wetter. I only had to use one of the Gro Baby.
* No adhesive which is both an advantage and disadvantage. The advantage is it doesn’t need it to do its job in a gDiaper pair of pants, but it is nice to have the adhesive on the Gro Baby when sticking it in other covers. That being said I have successfully used gDiaper flushies in other covers. I just have to be careful when putting them on the baby as nothing is really holding it in place.
*48 cents each for medium/large size. That being said you can get some good deals on them when on sale and you can buy them in bulk that will bring down that cost.

Gro Baby
* Shaped into a U with built in gussets. This means poop was caught by the insert rather than the cover itself, though not always.
* Smaller when folded up so fit in your diaper bag better.
* Adhesive holds the insert in place in the Gro Baby shell and other covers. That being said, the gDiaper inserts do not NEED any adhesive for them to work in gPants. The adhesive is actually a bit too strong as sometimes it sticks so well the plastic pulls away when trying to remove it from a cover. The paper that covers the adhesive is a little annoying though. They seem to manage to avoid getting thrown in the rubbish and I found them tucked in funny places in the bathroom. It is another part to dispose of.
* Very absorbent, but I have not done any measured tests.
* Only the paper core is flushable, which means you have to pull it away from the plasticy part and discard the plasticy part in the rubbish.
* Fully compostable just like gDiaper flushables.
* 40 cents each — so cheaper unless you get a good deal for by the case of gDiaper brand.

Gro Baby and GDiaper inserts folded side by side.
Size 2 Gro Baby on the left and medium large gDiaper on the right. The Gro Baby is folded into three and the gDiaper folded in half.

Open
On top is the gDiaper pad opened out, and below is the Gro Baby pad. The Gro Baby will keep trying to curl back out. The gDiaper relies on the white liner component of the gPant to form the U shape.

Edit: I was asked if a Gro Baby pad will work in a G-Diaper. Well it would go in there, but would be more effort with the adhesive etc than what it is worth. The white liner already does the curving part and you would be applying another curving pad into it. I personally wouldn’t run with that unless there was nothing else to put in Braden’s diaper. ie I was stuck out and about and everything was dirty bar a pair of gPants and a Gro Baby bio pad :)

So end result, which ones will I use on Braden? To be honest I will have a packet of both on hand. I have both brands of diapers in his stash so it makes sense to have them both for me. I like both brands.

Which would I recommend to someone starting out and wanting to choose which system?

I think it would come down to this factor. GDiapers is a more flexible system in that you can use so many different cloth inserts in them. Most of the insert brands I stock will work well and effectively in gPants without any major modifications. Gro Baby pads have snaps on them to hold them in place and they are not the standard snaps that most DIY folk have in stock — most DIY folk will have a snap press that uses size 20 KAM snaps. The Gro Baby system uses YKK snaps.

So I would go GDiapers if you want a more flexible system, and Gro Baby if you want to use just their system.

Gro Baby Biodegradable Soaker Pads

The long awaited Gro Baby Biodegradable Soaker pads finally arrived late September 2009. I only ordered a couple of boxes because I wanted to be sure that these worked before I made a big time commitment to the product for the store. I love the Gro Baby diapering system already. It is a trim one size shell that you snap organic cotton pads into. You change out just the pad after baby pees, and the put in a fresh pad. I generally only needed to wash the shell after Braden would poop. There is a choice of snap or hook and loop closure. The only beef I have had with the system was a lack of colour choices! Functionally they are a great diaper. But Gro Baby is planning prints by the end of 2009, and I cant wait for those!

So I put Braden to work testing out these biodegradable inserts. Our first “cloth” diaper with Braden was the gDiaper system using their flushable inserts. So the concept is not new. And it is great that another company is coming to the green party of offering up choices for those who do not want to do laundry, or for travel and out and about. They inserts comes in two sizes. Given that Braden is 24 pounds at time of testing and wearing his Gro Baby diapers on the largest setting, we went with the size 2.

Folded Bio SoakerThe biodegradable insert is very small when taken out of the pack folded (about 5 inches square), so they would pack into a diaper bag nicely and take up very little space. They are folded into thirds, and you unfold them and they look alot like the inside of a high end disposable diaper. They have a plastic back (which is biodegradable) and a paper front. There is a gusset edge on the pad for poop catching.

To put into the Gro Baby shell, you have to peel away the adhesive strips on the back. There is one at each end of the back of the pad. These stick to the mesh inner of the Gro Baby shell just fine. Its quite strong. A bit too strong in fact because I found if it gets a good hold on the snap at the back, you can tear the plastic backing of the diaper when trying to pull it off. This gets a tad tricky if the insert is full of poop!

Bio SoakerThe built in gusset does its job. I have not had any leaks with this insert in the Gro Baby shell. The pad holds quite a bit of pee too. We put it on Braden at nap time, the pad was full and heavy when I took it out after his nap. No leaks. Braden is a heavy wetting baby too.

I took the test a little further and tested the insert out in some other covers I have here. I tried it out in Otter Blotter covers and Thirsties Covers, and it worked well. If I placed the adhesives on the shiny side of PUL it did however stick a little too well and it was a little tough to get the insert out.

A pack costs $19.99, and there is 50 in a pack, so they work out to 40 cents each. So this system will cost you like a disposable does. BUT here is the big difference. This insert is compostable and biodegradable. Meaning it will not clog up a landfill for the next 500 years like a disposable will. You can also flush away the paper part of the unit. You still need to throw away the plasticy outter.

So what place will this have in Braden’s cloth diaper stash? For travel, for out and about, I will keep a couple in his diaper bag. Also when he gets a teething rash, I will use these as I don’t like to put creams on my cloth diapers as it can ruin them.

The addition of the Gro Baby Biodegradable Soaker pads to the Gro Baby line up makes them a very versatile cloth diapering system that should last most of baby’s diapering career.

ALL Bamboo G-Flapper Diaper Insert

The G-Flapper is my own product. I came up with the G-Flapper when I was trying to find a cloth insert that worked really well in gDiapers. I found some that kind of worked, but realised I could sew better to fit. My first efforts had too many layers of cloth to cater to my heavy wetting son, and they took two rounds in the dryer to dry. So I came up with the flap system so that the insert would wash and dry better.

All Bamboo G-Flapper has three flaps but 6 layers of fabric all up.

The ALL Bamboo G-Flapper is one of the later versions of my G-Flapper. I decided to try out heavy bamboo fleece as the bottom layer instead of hemp to see how the two would compare. I had customers test them out and fill in a survey for me, and the response was extremely positive. It is now one of my most popular G-Flappers. Many ask what is the difference between the organic flapper with hemp and this one with the bamboo fleece. Basically the bamboo is a more expensive fabric, hence the price difference. To me they absorb very similar, but the bamboo remains softer to the touch. Some customers tell me they think the bamboo absorbs better.

The ALL Bamboo G-Flapper is made up of two layers of HEAVY bamboo fleece (there are two main weights on the market and I use the heavy version), two layers of double bamboo terry (and many say this does the same job if not better than microfiber without the stink issues), and 1 layer of bamboo velour backed with a layer of single bamboo terry. I have the bamboo terry backing the velour to help keep it from shifting around everywhere because it is so silky soft. It also adds an extra layer of absorbency.

So here is what some of my customers have written to me and about the insert on various groups I am on:

Wendy writes “So I received my first “gflapper” the other day and have only washed it twice. I put it on dd around 2:30 pm while I was up in Maine, and forgot to change her until after we got home at 6:00 pm! I was slightly horrified when I realized that I hadn’t change her, and then I was simply stunned that it soaked up all her pee and no leaks anywhere! Thanks Sharni for such a wonderful product…..must go order more :)
P.S. It was the all bamboo one!”

Darlene writes “Hi Sharni-
Just wanted to share how much I LOVE the Bamboo G-Flappers! I purchased a tester version in March and loved it. (Unfortunately it was left at my inlaws out-of-state, never to be returned) As sure as it is everywhere, money has been tight, but I have never forgotten your inserts. I have been using the cheap Gerber inserts in which I would have to double up just to last us an hour of two. Slowly, my daughters thighs have been rubbed red as those inserts are so rough and had to be folded so thick. I finally got around to ordering bamboo g-flappers and can’t believe the difference! I continue to get ready the change her, to find that the third layer is still dry as could be. I feel so spoiled not having to change cloth diapers so frequently! In addition, the top layer of the inserts are SO soft! I feel guilty for subjecting my daughter to rough inserts for so long! Thank you for creating such a quality product! Cloth diapering is becoming more popular as the economy slows and I will continue to spread the word about your AMAZING inserts!”

Leslie writes “”I use nothing but G-Flappers from Nappy Shoppe. They are awesome and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them! They hold up, are absorbent, fit the G’s perfectly, …I could go on and on.
I highly recommend them!”

Tina writes “The gFlappers™ at www.nappyshoppe.com are awesome!! I am a huge fan of Organic Bamboo Velour and she makes the top layer with that. It’s a 3 layer insert, all sewn together at one end so it also drys really quickly as well!”

So yes I know these G-Flappers are the most expensive in my line up. But when combined with the G-Diaper system they still come out dramatically cheaper than any disposable system. And cheaper than some other cloth diaper systems.

And yes I have customers who love to use them in their pocket diapers too :)