Yes, even though they use energy when washed a reusable product is a much better choice than one you throw away. The materials used to make cloth nappies, the fact that you only purchase once and reuse all make them better for the environment. You are also not adding to landfill every day by using washable nappies.
Every baby uses about 6,000 nappies before potty training
That is equivalent to:
325kg of plastic waste
1 tonne of landfill
Production of disposable nappies uses chlorine gas to make them fluffy and white, the by-products include harmful chemicals such as dioxins and furans.
In fact, human waste is not supposed to be landfilled at all. Parents are expected to empty the contents of all nappies into the toilet. Biodegradeable liners really help with this!
Disposable nappies are not biodegradable. Estimates of their true lifespan (how long they take to disappear) vary from 500 to 10,000 years. They can harbour up to 100 different types of virus, including live poliovirus from vaccines. These viruses survive for over 2 weeks. Equivalent waste from hospitals is treated as clinical waste and is not deemed safe to be dumped in landfill sites. Of course, not all disposables go straight to landfill. We’ve all seen them dumped around the city and councils often complain about the cost of getting paper nappies out of drains and waterways.
Parts of the disposable nappy do rot (along with the urine and faeces) and this process gives off gases including methane (which adds to global warming) and releases acids which can help move chemical wastes into groundwater supplies.
It has been suggested that by the time you have laundered your cloth nappies, the energy cost and waste water makes cloth nappies as environmentally ‘un-friendly’ as disposables. This is simply not true, particularly as one set of Ecobots will last through up to 4 children!
These figures (see table below) show how much MORE of our resources are required for disposable nappies. This table considers total impact: production, use and disposal of nappies and INCLUDES the impact of laundering cloth nappies.
When compared to reusable nappies:
|3.5 times more
|8 times more
|Non-regenerable raw materials
|90 times more
|23 times more
|60 times more
|4 to 30 times more
|Land required for growing natural materials