Almost 17 million disposable diapers are thrown away every day in the European Union alone, each one taking almost 500 years to decompose, owing to their moisture-absorbing polymers and synthetic fabrics. They also contain harmful toxins that absorb the moisture a baby’s delicate skin, leading to irritation, rashes and skin conditions.
Reusable fabric nappies might seem like a better option but the absorbing fabrics used in cloth diapers are coated with polyester and polyurethane as well.
Enter Luisa Kahlfeldt with a fascinating and innovative solution… Sumo — a reusable diaper that uses a seaweed-based fabric.
Using her experience in traditional furniture, lighting, consumer product design, Kahlfeldt developed the reusable Sumo diaper as her Master’s project while attending Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL) in Renens, Switzerland in 2019 using Smartfiber AG’s SeaCell fabric.
SeaCell is composed of seaweed and eucalyptus. The textile is antibacterial and antioxidant-rich making it ideal for babies’ skin.
It’s also sustainable to harvest and produce, giving it an advantage over the textiles used in most cloth nappies on the market. Plus as Kahlfeldt has modelled it into a mono-material design, it is also more easily recycled, with no need to disassemble its components.
“I like to look for contemporary problems and design solutions,” she says. At the time of her bright idea many of her friends were new parents struggling to find sustainable and stylish disposable diaper alternatives.algae, Design, kelp, sustainability