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Are Disposable Nappies Really Bad for the Environment?

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We read it in the press all the time; how disposable nappies contribute to the growing problem of waste management, the impact of disposable nappies on landfill sites and the overuse of synthetic chemicals in nappy components.

When nappies are produced the process consumes large amounts of water, paper, plastic and energy power.

So what is the alternative? Washable nappies require using and re-using a toweling nappy which entails boiling, cleaning and drying of a large number of washable nappies.

Washable nappies need “extra kit” such as pins, nappy buckets and drying facilities.

As far as the “user experience” for the parent goes there’s not much difference in the chore of nappy changing with disposable or washable nappies.

So is it really that bad to use disposable nappies?

A recent Environment Agency report in the United Kingdom compared the environmental impact of disposable versus washable nappies and the conclusion was that there is negligible difference between the usage of disposable or washable nappies.

Although the report has been praised and criticised in equal measure by the various disposable and washable parties the notable point is that the nappies themselves do not solely contribute to the environmental issue.

The use of nappy sacks, nappy wraps, nappy wipes and packaging add a huge amount to the actual waste.

At the end of the day washable nappies are more environmentally friendly due to the simple fact that they are re-used, albeit with related energy costs due to washing, drying and ironing etc.

However, with proper attention given to the disposal of nappies and their related products a balance can be found where both disposable and washable nappies can be used by the discerning parent.

With disposable nappies make the effort to use as little additional products as you can; use a nappy sack where necessary and ensure any packaging is recycled wherever possible. Some local agencies provide disposable nappy removal services where they dispose of the wasste in a more energy efficient manner than the usual waste management. If you have such a scheme available to you make sure you use it.

With washable nappies hang them out to dry instead of using a machine. Wash many nappies together instead of one at a time or as you need them. When you do wash the nappies try and wash them yourself instead of using laundry services.

Taking the proper care will ensure the environment is respected and a sensible approach is maintained for nappy usage.

For further advice on nappy usage and nappies, please visit Baby Bums Nappies

To sign-up for a baby and nappy related newsletter, please visit Baby Newsletter website.

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  • Posted On January 16, 2007
  • Published articles 283513

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