Cloth nappies have been in use for years – your parents may have used nappies made out of a terry towelling type material. These nappies were squares of material, that folded the right way, would make a cloth nappy that could withstand a fair amount of wear and tear. Both modern cloth nappies and traditional cloth nappies are better for the environment compared to disposables and while they need to be washed regularly, they cause less environmental harm than disposables which sit around in landfill. There have been no tests done to see how long it takes for a disposable nappy to break down, but they are not biodegradable; it is possible that disposables can take up to 500 years to break down.
Disposable nappies really aren’t good for the environment – it takes up to twice as much energy to produce one disposable as it takes to wash a reusable nappy 200 times; it takes up to twice as much water to produce one disposable than to wash one reusable for a year; and reusable nappies are made from natural materials where disposables can be made from numerous plastics and oils. It is estimated that Australian’s throw away up to 2.1 billion disposable nappies each year; some of these end up in landfill, while others end up in our parks and on our beaches.
Apart from the environmental cost, there are a number of other benefits to using modern cloth or cloth eco nappies over disposable. The first is the number of nappy changes you will make and therefore the number of nappies you will use and how much money you will spend. It is estimated that you will make between 3000 – 5000 nappy changes depending on when your child toilet trains. That’s a lot of nappy changes and a lot of disposable nappies. At approximately $15 for 20 disposable nappies, that’s at least $2,250 you will spend on them over the course of your child needing them. Alternatively, while modern cloth can cost around $25 per nappy –you could buy around 90 modern cloth or cloth eco nappies for the same cost as a supply of disposables.
Cloth nappies are also good for your baby. As a parent, it can be easier to use disposables – they don’t take up time in washing or space on the line and they can be easily thrown away. But, they do contain chemicals that cloth nappies don’t. There is no research to suggest that either type of nappy will prevent nappy rash as it can be caused by a number of reasons, but it is entirely possible that the use of baby beach booties made from more breathable materials, whcih is also used in nappies. There are two major downsides to cloth nappies. The first is that they do need to be washed, and it takes time and attention to ensure they are washed and dried correctly to not harbour any bacteria that can cause issues later one. The second is that they are not entirely convenient when travelling or away from home. This is when some parents decide to use eco disposable nappies as opposed to cloth nappies. The use of cloth nappies can take a lot more effort, however, the benefits for your bub and the environment are worth the effort.