Eco-Tip: Nappies and Diapers

I could get into a lot of yellowy brown, smelly stuff here. Which is better - disposable or cloth? Maybe you've heard the phrase "Lies, damned lies and statistics." Over the years data has been trotted out to support both sides of the argument. What doesn't seem to be in dispute is the sheer volume of the disposables. In broad terms, per day, Australia uses 2.2 million, the UK 9 million and the USA 49 million. (Sorry, ran out of time to find stats for other locales.) That's a lot of plastic headed to our landfills. And, think for minute, what's inside those bundles? Untreated human excrement. 60 million packages thereof, in just 3 countries — per day! The Women's Environment Network, who should know a heap more about this than me, suggest that ... ... home-washing cloth diapers has only 53% of the ecological footprint of disposables. But of greater interest to us, as advocates of Product Service Systems (PSS), is that a nappy laundry service has a mere 37% of that footprint. In the middle of the debate are biodegradable nappies. These are formed with plant based plastics and under the right conditions will compost. However landfills just don't offer the right conditions. They are so full of mixed waste, that no self-respecting micro-organism would be seen near one. (Once read about newspapers that were extracted from a New York landfill, during an archelogical dig. Been there over 25 years and were still legible!). If you have to use disposables, then selecting a truly biodegradable option is preferable, but don't be disillusioned into thinking they will somehow go on to make a rich loamy soil. Alas not. [by WM]

Greenfibres are offering a Nappy Starter Pack, consisting of organic cotton nappies and liners, with organic wool overpants and ecopaper liners. £105.00 for the pack of 20.

Diaperaps have some fascinating figures on the topic and they offer a reusable diaper system.

Naty is a Swedish based, 70% biodegradable diaper, with an outer of GM free corn starch. (See our recent related post on Ingeo)

Senevens, a 100% biodegradable nappy, with only 10% wood pulp compared to the usual 60%.

Diaper Hyena has much more information, including the health of the baby, which we have not even touched on.