Sustainable living is an ongoing pursuit that requires evaluating each purchase and every product we use. But some daily tasks just don’t have suitable solutions. The spotlight on disposable diapers is one example, and the only real option so far has been cloth diapers. Even though cloth diapers do keep the plastic variety from sitting in a landfill for hundreds of years, the plastic ribbing and diaper inserts typically keep cloth diapers from being recyclable. As part of her master’s thesis, Luisa Kahlfeldt created Sumo, a natural, biodegradable diaper that is as gentle on the planet as it is on a baby’s skin.

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side view of tan reusable diaper with blue ties around the waist

Sumo diapers are created from a material called SeaCell, which is made up of algae extracts and eucalyptus wood. Both materials are soft and naturally antibacterial, making a great combination for something that will be against a baby’s skin. Additionally, SeaCell is sustainably harvested and produced with a low environmental impact. It is also biodegradable.

Related: Pacific nation Vanuatu is the first to ban disposable diapers

On the left, close-up of blue ties on a reusable diaper. On the right, close-up of inner absorbent layers of a reusable diaper

Anyone who has children knows that while it is important to strive for sustainability, if a reusable diaper doesn’t do its job, it’s out. The Sumo incorporates performance into the design with three layers of protection that include a soft inner layer, an absorbent center and a waterproof outer layer to combat leaks.

tan reusable diaper

Once the performance and material issues were hammered out, Kahlfeldt turned to finding an alternative to the standard elastic used for gathering fabric around the legs in traditional cloth diapers. In the process, she developed a way to knit natural yarns that stand up to the task while offering elasticity.

person putting a tan reusable diaper into a tan cloth bag

The design is gaining notice from some notable organizations, namely the James Dyson Award, where Sumo was the winning entry from Switzerland in 2019. Kahlfeldt completed the project before graduating Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), one of the world’s top design schools. She is currently working as a senior designer at Konstantin Grcic Design in Berlin.

+ Luisa Kahlfeldt

Via Dezeen

Images via Sumo

baby wearing a reusable diaper and lying on a changing table