Are reusable nappies REALLY better for the planet?
The short answer – YES.
They have a far lower carbon footprint – up to 40% less than disposables.
Using reusables you will produce far less waste – you can save 99% of the waste produced by disposable nappies. You could eliminate 900kg of waste over 2 years.
They will use much less water – producing the 5000 disposables a baby will use between birth and potty training will use more than twice the amount of water as reusuables, even when you take into account all the washing.
Reusable nappies take far fewer resources to produce – producing 4000 disposables will use 1500 litres of crude oil.
Modern cloth nappies frequently use recycled plastics and bamboo cloth, which is far less water-intensive to farm than cotton. They do not require soaking or boil washing, just a standard 40 degree cycle. They have been designed to dry quickly on an airer or clothes line.
But aren’t biodegradable disposables an easy eco-friendly option?
The short answer – NO.
‘Biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’ nappies really aren’t – not with current UK facilities at least. None of them are 100% biodegradable material (the average is around 60%), and they require an industrial hot composting system to break down. They must not be placed in food waste or garden waste bins, as they would contaminate these waste streams. A garden compost heap will not reach the required temperature to make their disposal safe and hygienic even if there were space for the ~5000 dirty nappies that will be produced by the time a baby is toilet trained.
They are manufactured with fewer chemicals than most disposables, but they still contribute to the mountain of residual waste that must be collected and disposed of every fortnight.