The mere thought of cloth nappies fills my nostrils with the smell of wet-pailed nappies soaking in antibacterial water and concrete back yards filled with large white terry squares flapping in the wind. Whether those are my own memories or Hollywood inspired daydreams, I may never know, but I’m pretty certain I’m not alone in my misconception.
I recently wrote an article over on Among the Mess about why I am interested in using reusable nappies, so I wont go into details here. A short recap, however, might be appropriate. In the UK we apparently go through 22,000 disposable nappies per day (8 million per year). I’m not sure how many trees go into making 22,000 nappies, but I’m guessing a few.
These trees are made into a pulp, which uses water. The pulp is bleached, which puts chemicals into the water. The nappies are produced using chemicals too. 22,000 nappies a day are transported around the country. 22,000 nappies a day are filled and binned and end up in landfills where they remain for 500 years. That’s a huge environmental impact. Much more than a few extra loads of washing a week.
There’s also the cost factor. It is estimated that disposables will cost at least £800 per child for two years. Reusables are less than £300, and there’s a fantastic resale market on them second hand too.
Then there are the health benefits. Although Sodium Polyacrylate was removed from tampons in the ’90s due to its link to Toxic Shock Syndrome, it is used in disposable nappies for the absorbency it provides. The Q&A section on Huggies’ website states that if that ‘gel’ finds its way on to your baby’s skin, it is harmless and can just be wiped off. I find it hard to understand how in adults it can cause TSS, but in children it is safe.
I have been doing a fair bit of reading on this whole reusable nappy business, and have been generally surprised that the women who have chosen to follow this path are not poverty stricken, downtrodden housewives who can’t afford the ‘convenience’ of disposables.
In fact, the majority of them seem to be of the opinion that, although perhaps sceptical themselves at first, they would now not go back to disposables at all.
It is with keen interest that I embark on this journey.