Why Parents Should Choose Cloth Nappies

Everyone has heard about landfill burden and the need to recycle their household items, but fewer people know that the largest amount of waste going to landfill in the UK are disposable nappies.

Plastic Waste

Just one baby generates enough nappy waste to fill 130 black bin bags from birth to potty training and parents discard three billion used nappies a year. Largely made of plastic, they don't biodegrade and end up being dumped in landfill where they may fester for hundreds of years. No one knows how long the plastics will remain, but some have guessed 500 years.

The burden on landfill is so great that some councils offer a reduction off the council tax bill for parents who choose to use cloth nappies.

Raw Sewage

Most parents are unaware that solid waste is supposed to be flushed down the toilet before throwing a disposable nappy away. They will just throw it away as it is. This means that refuse workers are exposed to raw sewage when dealing with nappy waste. Every poopy nappy contains an average of 100 viruses that may remain virulant for up to a fortnight, not to mention hundreds of bacteria. As waste nappies are buried underground, the viruses and bacteria leak into the soil and groundwater.

Harmful Chemicals

There are several harmful chemicals in disposable nappies, some of which aren't supposed to be there. French researchers tested 23 brands of disposable nappies between 2016-2018 and they identified around 60 different chemicals, including glyphosate, a weed killer. Other chemicals found are the same as those found in cigarettes. 

Perfumes are added purposefully to mask the smell of urine but these can irritate baby's skin, causing nappy rash. In severe cases, babies have had allergic reactions to the perfumes and absorbent fillers added to disposable nappies.

The absorbent core that makes disposables so good at holding urine and preventing leaks is made from sodium polyacrylate, an absorbent core used for tampons that has been implicated in the development of toxic shock syndrome and was banned in 1985 because of the health risk to girls and women. Its effect on babies has never been studied.

Money

Disposables are a waste of money! To kit out baby in disposable nappies from birth to two years costs British Parents an average of £800. Using flat prefold nappies and covers and washing them for re-use will cost around £200 over two years. Buying 24 form fitted reusable nappies costs around £25-30 more than flat nappies, with all the modern convenience of a disposable. They fasten with Velcro or poppers so no pins are required. Some have built in waterproof covers that cancel out the need for a separate cover and best of all, they can be washed and reused again and again, saving hundreds of pounds. 

Sources:

The Independent, 11th May 2006

Safety in Baby Nappies Report (in French)

Green Health Watch, Page Accessed 6/5/19

BBC News, The Cost of Rearing a Child in Disposable Nappies