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Defending reusable nappies

Today I saw a post in the Observer that sought to answer a rather simple question: Is it wrong to use disposable nappies? The answer on environmental grounds is simply “no”; for the average household they have about the same environmental impact across their lifecycle as reusable ones bar the end of life question. This isn’t anything new and it’s not a feeling or a corporate sponsored sentiment, it’s just what it is. For people that have gone down the route of reusables, this isn’t really an acceptable proposition.

Reusables win on waste, lose on water and draw on carbon.

There are many different ways one can go about responding to new information and cognitive dissonance isn’t anything really new. It is completely understandable why some will want to hold onto the belief that there is some great unquestionable environmental benefit that justified their reusable nappy work, but we have to be fair in our objective assessment and not expect full stars across the board.

Reusable nappies have many benefits:

Households save lots of money (i.e. hundreds of pounds) over the course of nappy wearing years
There is little household waste and a good second hand market when you have gone through them
They look “cute”
Feel part of a community and a sense of accomplishment

but they also have objective cons:

Cotton production has significant environmental impacts
You don’t have a lower impact by virtue of their use, you need to have the right washing behaviours to derive the real benefit
High water use from washing demands could be an issue in water stressed areas
Need to wash on 60 for health reasons (i.e. not performance related!) leading to increased energy use for your washes
Time between washing and reuse can be prolonged in winter months

As there are quite a few […]

By |June 22nd, 2014|Categories: Babies, Nappies|Tags: , |0 Comments

What is the real impact of using nappies?

Comparison of the carbon footprint of using disposable and reusable nappies.
By |December 14th, 2013|Categories: Babies, Nappies|Tags: , |7 Comments