Huggies new "organic" diapers are part of Kimberly-Clark's latest attempt at convincing moms and dads that disposables are environmentally friendly and chemical-free. Neither is true, and these diapers are likely to confuse a lot of new parents who are unaware that there are much better options. I predict that they will accomplish the main goal of increasing Huggies market share a little. Lest anyone be confused about their motivations, Kimberly-Clark issued a press release quoting Robert Thibault, president of Kimberly-Clark's North American Infant, Baby & Child Care business " ...We expect the unique attributes this diaper offers will be well-received by moms and our retail customers, and will help drive incremental dollar growth in the category," said Thibault. (read full release here).
I ordered a free sample pack of 3 "organic" diapers from Huggies. What struck me first was how much packaging these three little diapers came with. Look at this picture of the complete package - including the plastic wet bag they included as a gift. I think the packaging is brilliant. Kudos to their marketing team for making these diapers look so innocent, so pure, so very green. The wet bag is even printed with a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All that packaging for 6 hours worth of diapers!
Now, look at the amount of packaging used for mailing 3 one size cloth diapers. The packaging consists of instuctions for using the diapers, a pro-cloth postcard so people can remember where they bought the diapers, paper belly bands on the Happy Heinys and BumGenius diapers and no packaging for the Tiny Tush diaper. Now, consider that this small amount of packaging carried 3 diapers that will last through 3 diaper changes a day for about 2 years. Those three diapers will have replaced about 2,190 throwaway diapers.
If you look closely you can see the polybag used for mailing, to help reduce the weight of packages and therefore keeping shipping costs low and reducing the carbon footprint of the package as much as possible. Yes, they are plastic, but there is still no comparison between the level of waste from the disposables.
Adding a little organic cotton makes these diapers marginally more environmentally friendly. Whatever "renewable materials" they are using might make them more environmentally friendly - but there is not enough information in the packaging or on their web site to form a valid conclusion. I will, however, give them kudos for making them fragrance free and using less ink, as both of these are potential causes of allergies (diaper rashes and dye).
The problem is, they are still disposable. Huggies is keeping many pounds of pesticides out of the environment, but they are still creating a disposable product. Does it really make more sense to throw away organic cotton than conventional cotton? They are still made with petroleum based plastics and super polymers. They will still clutter a landfill for hundreds of years, leaching chemicals and human waste into groundwater.
Incremental improvement is better than no improvement, but I am disappointed that this is the best a company the size of Huggies can do. I am particulary disappointed in their marketing practices that make this diaper look so much more environmentally friendly than standard disposable diapers.
You are welcome to reprint only this article on your cloth diaper related sites so long as the following information remains intact.
"Julie Renee Holland is the owner of Little for Now LLC, a cloth diaper and natural parenting store. You can read more of her diaper reviews here www.clothdiaperreviews.com.: