Real Nappy Week officially ended on Sunday but as competitions and offers are being extended I thought I’d add an extra mythbuster: biodegradable ( b ‘ -d-gr ‘ d-bl ) adj. Capable of being decomposed by biological agents, especially bacteria.
There are many brands of single-use nappy that claim to be bio-degradable. And of course, if it says it is on the packet it has to be true, doesn’t it? But of course they can only biodegrade under certain specific conditions. Most household rubbish goes to landfill and incineration and these are not places where nappies stuffed with superabsorbent polymers (SAPSs) biodegrade.
So far, so obvious, right? So what do you say when someone tells you they use biodegradable nappies? In the past I was blunt: “They’re a con. They don’t biodegrade.” I now say things like “Oh, that’s better than buying the others,” (and that’s not patronising, I mean it). “Don’t a lot of scientists say they need special conditions to biodegrade?”or “I might be wrong but … “
I don’t want to make a parent feel bad about her/himself. I don’t know what else is going on in her/his life and what s/he is having to cope with. My anger should not be at parents for being duped but at the companies that dupe them. So I then move the conversation on to a topic on which we can connect – happy to leave the question unanswered. It’s up to them whether they have the energy/time/inclination to find out more.