I love nappies/diapers (really!)

January 10, 2007

I have just been reading “She muses” and enjoyed checking the link she made to gDiapers as an eco-friendly diaper alternative. I know it is a bit of an odd thing to be passionate about, but nappies/diapers are something I have become very interested in. The following is a rather long-winded post I made on an earlier (rather unsucessful) blog, which might help explain why…

I just posted the following on The Nappy Network forum for mothers using cloth nappies, in response to a request for quotes supporting the use of cloth nappies and the kits they hire out:

“I had my daughter in cloth nappies from day one, initially using a newborn nappy hirekit. I found modern cloth nappies extremely easy to wash, dry and use even on a newborn, and once the hire period was over I had plenty of confidence in choosing a the right nappies for us.”

My husband and family often tease me about my participation in the forum, and my attachment to Maya’s nappies… and I guess not so long ago I would have thought it was weird also. But it makes so much sense to me now. Here are some of the reasons for using cloth nappies:

  • They are better for the environment:
    *In NZ, about 575 million “disposable” nappies are used every year
    (=10M per week)
    *It takes one full cup of crude oil to make the plastic for each “disposable” nappy.
    *It takes 4.5 trees to make the pulp used in “disposable” nappies for one baby over 2 1/2 years (ie: 7 million trees a year are felled for UK babies, 1.3 million trees for NZ babies)
    *”Disposable” nappies use 3.5 times more energy, 8 times more non-renewable raw materials, 90 times more renewable materials than washable nappies.
    *It takes as much energy to produce one throwaway nappy as it does to wash a cloth nappy 200 times.
    *”Disposables” produce 2.3 times more waste water (at the production stage) and 60 times more solid waste than washable nappies – one baby in disposables will produce 2 tonnes of solid waste!
    *In a household with one baby, “disposables” will make up 50% of total household waste. Just one single item, “disposables”, make up 6% of total waste in Wellington
    (from http://www.zerowaste.co.nz/default,507.sm).
  • They are better for my budget:
    *Average cloth nappy cost for one child- NZ$524 per year. Average cost for dispoables for one year- NZ$1068.72 per year (from Wigglebums).
    *I estimate I have spent NZ$600 in the past year on cloth nappies, disposables would have cost me up to twice that. Even figuring in the cost of washing powder, hot water and time (10-15 mins per day) I still think it works out much cheaper, especially when you realise I shouldn’y have to buy any more nappies for another 6-12 months, and I can reuse what I have if I have another child.
  • They are better for my babies bottom:
    *I love the feel of soft cloth and I’m sure my baby prefers it too! We certainly have had very few problems with nappy rash while using cloth nappies.
    *It worries me that chemicals and gels contained in the absorbent layer of disposables nappies are not subject to government controls or independent testing, and there is no labelling requirement on the packaging. In addition there have been NO long-term studies into the effects on skin of constant exposure to the polyacralyte super absorbent gels found in most disposable nappies (http://www.zerowaste.co.nz/default,507.sm)

  • Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process. It is a carcinogenic chemical, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. It is banned in most countries, but not the U.S.
    *Disposable diapers contain Tributyl-tin (TBT) – a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.
    *Disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, a type of super absorbent polymer (SAP), which becomes a gel-like substance when wet. A similar substance had been used in super-absorbancy tampons until the early 1980s when it was revealed that the material increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome.
    *In May 2000, the Archives of Disease in Childhood published research showing that scrotal temperature is increased in boys wearing disposable diapers, and that prolonged use of disposable diapers will blunt or completely abolish the physiological testicular cooling mechanism important for normal spermatogenesis. (from http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/diaperfacts.php)
  • It really isn’t so much work and it isn’t completely disgusting
    What is disgusting is the thought of a weeks worth of poo sitting in my rubbish bin! Modern cloth nappies do not require scrubbing (and biodegradable liners take care of the worst of pooey nappies for the squeemish), boiling or even soaking most of the time. My washing routine takes me about 15-20 minutes every couple of days, including putting them in the wash, hanging and putting away. Not much longer than taking out those smelly rubbish bags!
  • They look sooo cute!
  • Cute Nappy


    8 Responses to “I love nappies/diapers (really!)”

    1. […] thoughts about this. It makes me a little sad, my baby is no longer a baby. I’ll miss her cute cloth bum… although I definitely won’t miss the […]

    2. […] For some reason my “I love nappies” post is one of my most popular posts, probably the result of searches such as “cost of […]

    3. Meaghan Says:


      Can I please ask where you got this stat?

      *It takes 4.5 trees to make the pulp used in “disposable” nappies for one baby over 2 1/2 years (ie: 7 million trees a year are felled for UK babies, 1.3 million trees for NZ babies)

      I am organising a nappy trial in Melbourne, and would like to compare the amount of water, oil, CO2 emitted from using both cloth and disposable nappies. I read the UK Environment Agency’s report on the Life Cycle of both cloth and disposable nappies,
      and the report has omitted the water required to grow trees (required to make 425 kilo of pulp). Very odd. Even more odd, when I sent an email to the Agency pointing out the issue, they have siad that they did not write the report themselves, and to the best of thier knowleadge, it is correct – this is despite telling them that

      It looks like the consulting firm that compiled the Life Cycle Assessment of Disposable and Reusable Nappies Report has omitted the water needed to grow the trees (required to produce 425 kilograms of fluff pulp) in the Life Cycle Assessment.

      This is despite mentioning on page 5 of the report that…

      the flows associated with the fluff pulp used in disposables were traced back to paper and forest growth. For cloth nappies, the flows were traced back to cotton growth and production.

      On page 88 of the report in table 7.3 ‘Inventory analysis: disposable nappy manufacture’, it states that 17,700kg of water is required for fluff pulp.

      Given that on average it takes 35kgm3 of water to make a tonne of pulp, (source: http://ec.europa.eu/research/growth/gcc/projects/sustainability-pp.html), this equates to approximately 14,875 kg of water required to make 425 kg of pulp.

      I am researching how much water it really takes to make a disposable, but the data is not easy to find. I am interested to see where your data is sourced from.

      Best wishes


    4. Sharon Says:

      I’m pretty sure I got that stat from Zero Waste but the page has been undated since I originally wrote the post last year and I can’t find it any longer. I’ll do a bit of digging and see what I can come up with for you.
      Good luck with your nappy trial!

    5. […] if you’re wondering why real nappies are cool, Sharon has written a very helpful post here. And if you want to read more about the downsides to disposables in general, then try this post by […]

    6. […] 11th, 2007 by Sharon A while back I noted that my “I Love Nappies” post was one of the most popular on this blog, and that I would follow it up with a post on […]

    7. poohbaby Says:

      I love nappies too i have always had the inner child in me come out and even now the thought of wearing nappies is unbelievable, i mainly use disposable i know this dosnt help the involment put they are easier to use and dispos .I do have a few cloth nappies and plastic pants so i could change to cloth instead of disposables but when you get used to using throw away item it hard to turn back.

    8. […] I love nappies/diapers (really!) January 2007 7 comments 4 […]

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