People can argue all they like about the relative environmental impacts of disposable vs washable nappies and they sure do www.guardian.co.uk but one thing is for certain; disposable nappies create a lot more waste. At Real Nappies for London we know it’s at least one large bin bag of rubbish per baby each week. It doesn’t really matter if disposable nappies are 10% smaller www.futurefriendly.co.uk when clean – it’s what’s in them when they’re in the trash that counts and that tends to be largely pee and poo.
But what’s also important about what nappy system you opt for is how that choice affects your attitude to waste. If you’re very green but just can’t get on with washable nappies it may not affect your attitude to waste. You will probably try harder to reduce it in other ways. But for most of us the effect of creating a large refuse sack of nappy waste each week is just demoralising. It makes you feel hopeless and other waste just seems minor by comparison.
On the other hand if you’re using real nappies most of the time you will be very happy with the fact that since you’ve had a baby your household waste has barely increased. This means you’re far more likely to feel inspired and look at other ways in which you can buy less packaging – such as buying refills of detergent to reduce the number of plastic bottles you throw away/recycle and think of ways to substitute single-use items for products you can use over and over again such as reusable wipes rather than disposable ones.
What’s more it’s very likely you’re going to pass on used baby clothes, equipment and toys www.nct.org.uk because thinning your bin is part of who you are and you take great pride in it. It’s probably going to make you buy less stuff too. You go to buy a plastic toy your child’s whining for and what you see is landfill. And then when friends and relatives ask what present they can buy for your child you ask for no plastic and if possible something wooden that improves with age and can get passed on, or something useful like a book or clothes.
And if you wash your baby’s nappies – even those of you who have used a laundry service end up washing some, even if it’s just the wet ones to stretch out the weekly supply – it’s highly likely that you are going to end up picking up environmentally friendly laundering habits. More of that in my next blog.
Of interest The truth about detergents and post on indoor air quality