Don't Get Your Nappy in a Twist
Talking about cloth nappies and sustainability is something that is not exactly headline grabbing, or perhaps a better way to put it is that nappies are not 'sexy' enough for the tabloids and news stations of the world to talk about when it comes to sustainability and pollution, however both they and any parents are missing a trick when it comes to finding the not only environmentally friendlier approach, but also the cheaper and healthier option too. Cloth Nappies.
Now before you get your nappy in a twist, these are not the cloth nappies of the 1980's with the huge safety pins and leaking issues. the cloth nappies of the 21'st century are cool, trendy and kick some serious ass when you match them against the disposable alternatives. Currently the NHS estimates that a baby will go through 5500 nappies in the time between birth and potty training. Using this figure we can start to break down the cost, environmentally and financially of disposable and cloth nappies.
Lets focus on the environmental issues first.
First of all that is a lot of nappies to be sending to landfill per child, with the current UK birthrate at 774,835 (2016). For just that years kids alone it is a staggering 4.26 billion nappies being bought and dumped with each disposable nappy contains more plastic than 3 plastic bags, and that's not even mentioning the plastic packaging, and the wet wipes being used as well. All of which take more than 500 years to breakdown, some never breaking down and forming the micro-plastic particles that are all over the news at the moment.
Comparatively a set of 25 cloth nappies will last for more than enough time for potty training one if not two children without the huge need for endless waste and most are biodegradable and made from natural fibers like hemp, bamboo and cotton. Right away we are using less materials and resources to make less nappies and creating significantly less waste by choosing the cloth nappies.
One big area that gets a lot of push back on cloth nappies is the water usage argument, but when you stack up the figures, again cloth nappies come out on top with a set of 25 cloth nappies using up to around 30,000-40,000 litres of water in their production and washing over the 3 year period a child is in nappies, as opposed to 108,856 litres of water used to produce 5500 disposable nappies.
Cloth nappies also use significantly less oil, using only 7 litres in their production, where as their disposable counterparts require 1298 litres.
So far the cloth nappies win by a landslide.
Lets look at cost.
5,500 disposable nappies, even bought on offer and in the jumbo packs cost on average 15-20p per nappy depending on brand, which brings their price to £850-£1,100.
25 cloth nappies will cost you only £300. The only difference being that it is £300 upfront as opposed to £45 a month on average. But even within the first year you are seeing big savings.
And you can argue the cost of washing the nappies for washing powder and electricity but it still does not come close to the £975 average price of the disposables over the 2.5-3 years of nappies. If you use them for a second child the savings really start to soar to over £1,500.
Finally when it comes to health we see time and time again the benefits with cloth over disposable. This peer reviewed study is by far the best way to demonstrate this.
As you can see the results show that babies who wore only disposables presented nappy rash in 70% of the children surveyed, as opposed to 30% in those who combined both, and only 2% in those who used cloth nappies exclusively.
Further more the disposable nappies contain a myriad of chemicals that are constantly exposed to your child's skin including dioxins (known to cause skin irritation and potential liver, immune, endocrine and nervous system dysfunction) , TBT or Tributyl-Tin (which is extremely toxic to aquatic lifeforms), Sodium Polyacrylate (linked to respiratory problems and skin conditions in infants) and many Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's) such as toluene and ethylbenzene which can cause skin, eye and throat irritation, headaches, liver and kidney damage and some have been categorised as carcinogenic. No parent wants to be putting such harmful chemicals anywhere near their children.
Not only are cloth nappies cheaper, environmentally friendlier and healthier, but they are also far more beautiful, coming in many different patterns, colours and styles, from starry night to dinosaurs or rainbows there is something for everyone and your kids will love them. Whats more they are all easily adjustable to fit a tiny new born or large toddler with some using poppers and other velcro to adjust the size.
It's an easy swap, you just tip the poo in the toilet when you change your child's nappy, store the dirty nappies in a bin or box for a day or so until you start to run low, wash them, dry them and go again. We can make a huge impact on the plastic and pollution problem we face on a global level with such an easy swap, and it means no more running out to get another packet of nappies or worrying about if they are the right size. Go on, save yourself money, and save the planet at the same time!
Some brands we recommend include:
Eco-pipo - https://www.ecopipo.co.uk/
Bambino Mio - https://www.bambinomio.com/
Alva baby - https://www.alvababy.com/
And if you want even more ways to reduce your waste with your young family check out some of these great ideas from our super simple swaps series;