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Washable Nappies - Is it the Best Choice?

Aug 5, 2008
You have decided to use washable nappies as opposed to disposables in order to personally contribute to reducing damage to the environment. Your friends and fellow new mums look at you as if the pregnancy hormones are still raging. They would like you to believe that you have been misled and that there is no benefit whatsoever to using cloth diapers.

So just how environmentally friendly are reusable nappies?

They obviously don't contribute to the landfill problem. But washable nappies, as their name suggests, have to be washed and dried, using up water, detergents and energy in the process. Line drying is obviously preferable for the environment but let's face it this is Britain where blissful sunny days are few and far between. With a mother up to her ears in dirty nappies, is the environmental cost of the tumble dryer going to outweigh the benefits of getting those nappies washed, dried and back in their rightful place - I wonder?

Parents can be proactive in minimising the effect on the environment. They can buy reusable nappies second hand or at least make sure that they pass their child's nappies on when the child is potty trained. They can use an economical wash cycle on a machine and when appropriate dry them outside on the washing line. Or they can use a nappy laundry service if there is one which operates in their area.

I recommend that you check with your local council to see what measures, if any, they have introduced to help those caring mums who take their responsibility to the environment seriously. The Council may have already introduced a real nappy incentive scheme - many already have. If your particular council hasn't yet had the foresight to do so, try lobbying them to introduce one. Some councils offer incentives worth almost 100 which is nearly half the cost of the reusable nappies you will need before your child is potty trained.

This is not some passing trend or phase; real washable nappies are here to stay. With household rubbish already placing huge demands on over stretched councils, it is in their interest to introduce schemes like the real nappy incentive program. You may not be able to do much about the carbon footprint left by your car or your plane travels but you have 100% control over the decisions you make with regard to the types of nappies you use.

Every family that moves over to real nappies will have a positive effect on our environment. If even half the families were to move to using cloth nappies in the UK today, our councils would have circa 20 million to redirect to more deserving causes.

It doesn't even have to be a wholly financial decision either, consider what kind of an environment your child will inherit when even more landfill sites will be required to accommodate the growing mountains of household waste.

When you make your choice, be sure to consider the welfare of your child, the financial implications and the impact that your decision will have on the environment.

Choose wisely.
About the Author
Pam Pearson is a guest writer for the "Washable Nappies Guide" blog: where you'll find lots of practical advice and guidance on using environmentally friendly nappies.
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