Conventional disposable nappies are cheap and convenient, but they have a very high environmental impact and can contain some nasty toxins. There are much better options available.
We have a range of sustainable, affordable nappy options that will keep you and your baby happy.
What is wrong with ‘normal’ nappies?
Unfortunately, the supermarket disposable nappies that society has become so used to have a heavy toll on the environment and even your family’s health. From how they are manufactured to what happens when they are thrown in the bin (the story doesn’t end there!), they consume a lot of resources, and turn what should be biodegradable waste into a long-term landfill problem.
Disposable nappies have a massive environmental impact during manufacturing.
• The raw materials are a cocktail of hazardous chemicals (like dioxins and phthalates) combined with heavily processed natural materials such as cotton and wood pulp.
• It takes around 1 cup of crude oil to make the plastic in one disposable nappy.
• Huge amounts of water and mostly non-renewable energy are used to process the raw materials into the finished product.
The average disposable nappy can be rather nasty even while it’s being used (and we’re not talking about the contents when you change it).
• A baby’s body and immune system is still developing, making them very sensitive to environmental pollutants and toxins.
• Potentially damaging chemicals used for bleaching, plastic production, absorbency, waterproofing and printing all remain in the final nappy.
• These chemicals are being held close to your baby’s skin for almost 24 hours a day for years.
Nappy disposal is also a major issue.
• The average child will go through 5,000-10,000 nappies before they are toilet trained, that is several tonnes of waste going into landfill.
• Over 2 billion disposable nappies end up in Australian landfills every year.
• With no access to light and air in landfill for nappies to break down properly, they can last for up to 500 years or more!
• To put this in perspective, if King Henry VIII had used modern disposable nappies as a child, they’d still be there, just sitting in landfill.
Washable nappies are streets ahead of any of the disposable options, both environmentally and financially. The resources used for manufacturing are spread across thousands of uses instead of just a single one and modern washing machines can be very efficient with water and energy, so environmental impacts are much lower and costs per change are a fraction of disposables. If you use the nappies for multiple children (or hand them on or sell them) then the impact is multiplied.
Modern reusable nappies solve a lot of the problems associated with old fashioned cloth, making them easier and more practical to use and wash. For example, accessories like compostable liners to catch solids makes cleaning easier. They come pre-folded and use fitted nappy covers to hold them in place, making changing simpler and leakages less likely.
Most disposables contain super-absorbent granules, which are designed to soak up and retain moisture, keeping it away from your baby’s skin. The problem with this is they can also dry out the natural moisture and oils of the skin, making it more susceptible to rashes and infections. Because cloth nappies aren’t super-drying you will tend to change the nappies more often, leaving your baby in contact with nasties for less time and leaving more of their skin’s natural protection.
Bio Bums nappies are made from sustainable materials - bamboo, organic cotton and hemp, designed and made in Australia
Eenees, designed in Tasmania, are the only nappy that is certified by Compost Australia for use in commercial hot composting facilities. You can collect them in our Compostable bin liner bags and drop the used nappies back at our shop, where we have them taken to a commercial composting facility and turned into agricultural fertiliser! - a full closed-loop system.
Eenees are an absorbent pad that is held in place by a gripper belt. This is because the velcro-type attachments on other biodegradable nappies are thick and therefore harder to compost, despite being made of bio-plastics.
Because they’re a shaped pad rather than a fitted nappy, Eenees can also be used for incontinence pads and other absorbent uses, further reducing landfill waste.
Biodegradable disposables from Muumi and Ecoriginals
There is also a range of biodegradable disposable nappies available. They have been produced in a more efficient manner from much less harmful ingredients and they will biodegrade much more readily than the standard ‘plastic fantastic’ nappies.
We stock two brands. They both rate very well on sustainability and low-toxicity but we’ve found customers like having a choice, as sometimes one brand fits their baby better than the other. This can even change as your baby grows.
Biodegradable nappies are just as easy to use as the mainstream options, but are a much better choice for your child in both the present and the future.
Muumi (Finland) and Ecoriginals (Australia) are designed with biodegradeable, non-toxic linings that allow the nappies to quickly break down in landfill - unlike conventional disposables which stick around for years!