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Living Lightly column

Cloth vs disposable nappies: Why the planet needs you to make the switch

By Emma Avery, Founder & Owner of Cloth Baby

Single-use plastics have become something of a taboo of late, and thanks to the ABC TV series War on Waste we are all adapting our behaviours. However, in spite of this growing awareness, there is a single-use plastic that is still increasing as our population grows – disposable baby nappies. Disposable nappies are one of the largest categories of single-use household consumer items to end up in landfill.

When nappies end up in landfill, they do not break down – even biodegradable eco-branded disposable nappies. Any biodegradable organic waste will simply rot, creating methane gas (21 times more potent that C02) and leachate (water run-off all the nasties collecting in landfill) into the soil. The breakdown bio process requires oxygen and heat (like a compost bin), something that is not always present under the layers of a compressed landfill.

In short, nappies ending up in landfill contribute to methane and leachate production.

Until they are toilet trained, every baby will go through at least 6,000 nappy changes, enough disposable nappies to fill 17 wheelie bins per child.

So what’s the solution? It is, quite simply, avoidance. Just like bringing one’s own our reusable coffee cup, use stainless steel straws and reusable shopping bags, it’s time to start avoiding disposable nappies and turning to reusable modern cloth nappies.

Cloth nappies have advanced significantly beyond the terry towelling flats of the past.

Buying disposable nappies for two-and-a-half years will cost up to $3,000 whereas a set of modern cloth nappies will cost around $700. The savings keep coming when using the cloth nappies for subsequent children.

Even if we add the utility costs of water, we are again better off financially to use reusable cloth. Let alone, reaping the sustainability benefits with the avoidance of the over-use of plastics.

To learn more about modern cloth nappies and check out a range of Australian brands of cloth nappies on the market locally, drop in to Almar Organics, 539 Nurigong Street, Albury this Saturday, April 13 between 9am and 12pm. Visit clothbaby.com.au for more details.