cloth nappies

My name is Vera, I’m 27 and an Environmental Scientist and on October 7th 2012 I became a mother to a beautiful little girl whom my husband and I named Peta.

Being an Environmental Scientist I see and know the pressures; we as a human race especially ones living in the western world, place on the environment, both in the resources we reap (water, coal, minerals etc.) and the waste we produce (landfill and emissions).  For years I studied the effect our everyday choices on the environment and the huge amount of resources it takes to produce objects that make our lives just that little bit more convenient. 

In addition to my education, my upbringing holds the motivation for my love and respect for the environment. I grew up in the Victoria Alps close to Mt Hotham where my brothers and I had a relatively primitive and down to earth upbringing. We always had good food on the table, instruments to play, bikes to ride and a view to die for. But as for piles of plastic toys, mountains of clothes and never ending TV shows, my sibling and I knew nothing of the sort. 

We had a somewhat different upbringing  to other children of the 90’s; Isolated, but not lonely, basic, but not deprived, and rich, but not in money. Growing up in one of the most pristine areas of Victoria I had an infinite love for the environment and from an early age learnt the impact we have on it.

Before Peta came into this world I knew she would be putting additional strain on the environment and add to our family’s ecological footprint. But this was not enough to inhibit my overwhelming urge to nurture and be a mother. But I knew the choices I would make, would be environmentally responsible as possible. Some of these actions included using recycled clothes and toys, using reusable wipes and using modern cloth nappies (MCN).

MCN have so many advantages I don’t understand why more people don’t use them.

Modern Cloth Nappies:

  • Have natural absorbent fabrics made from predominantly hemp and bamboo which are not only sustainable to grow but also allow babies skin to breathe and are anti-bacterial.
  • Are comfortable, have great absorption and reliable containment.
  • Are reusable and CHEAPER. Even compared with the leading brand disposables, MCN will save you thousands over the time your child is in nappies and with every addition child the savings are incremental. (Click here for a great comparison.)
  • Don’t contain super absorbent gels, chlorine and polypropylene covers which provide little breathability
  • Are ENVIRONMENTALY FRIENDLY; when looking at the entire life cycle of cloth verses disposable including cultivation, manufacturing, transportation and waste impacts the differences are huge.
  1. It takes a full cup of crude oil to make the plastic for each ‘disposable' nappy
  2. It takes as much energy to produce one disposable as it does to wash a cloth nappy 200 times
  3. both nappies use similar amounts of fossil fuel
  4. disposables take up to 500 years to decompose in landfill sites and can harbour up to 100 different types of virus
  • Do not dispose of faeces in the household bin (common with the use of disposables) and consequently landfill which can lead to the spread of disease.

To compare the difference between MCN and Disposables in regards to their environmental impact you can see in the following table the factor of difference is huge especially in terms of raw materials, domestic solid waste and land to produce materials.

 

cloth nappies

It is obvious that my personal preference for using MCN is predominantly driven by the environmental benefits. However if the environmental aspect doesn’t concerned you, than think of the potential health risk to your child and your wallet. Disposables are not only extremely expensive but have numerous harmful chemicals in them which are up against sensitive skin and to not all it to breath. The long term health effects of these chemicals on babies are still unknown. In boys, the use of disposables can also raise scrotal temperatures which can lead to further problems.

Whether you chose to use MCN for an environmental, health or financial decision the benefits are vast for all three!

And well  if I haven’t convinced you to at least try MCN and the pure convenience of disposables is too good a reason to continue using them I suggest you ask yourself; Is doing a load of washing and folding a few nappies while watching your little bundle of joy play really that much of an inconvenience?