The mere thought of cloth nappies fills my nostrils with the smell of wet-pailed nappies soaking in antibacterial water and concrete back yards filled with large white terry squares flapping in the wind. Whether those are my own memories or Hollywood inspired daydreams, I may never know, but I’m pretty certain I’m not alone in my misconception.

I recently wrote an article over on Among the Mess about why I am interested in using reusable nappies, so I wont go into details here. A short recap, however, might be appropriate. In the UK we apparently go through 22,000 disposable nappies per day (8 million per year). I’m not sure how many trees go into making 22,000 nappies, but I’m guessing a few.

Photo complements of Kingston and Merton Real Nappy Network – The number of disposables vs reusables a baby will use in his or her nappywearing lifetime

These trees are made into a pulp, which uses water. The pulp is bleached, which puts chemicals into the water. The nappies are produced using chemicals too. 22,000 nappies a day are transported around the country. 22,000 nappies a day are filled and binned and end up in landfills where they remain for 500 years. That’s a huge environmental impact. Much more than a few extra loads of washing a week.

There’s also the cost factor. It is estimated that disposables will cost at least £800 per child for two years. Reusables are less than £300, and there’s a fantastic resale market on them second hand too.

Then there are the health benefits. Although Sodium Polyacrylate was removed from tampons in the ’90s due to its link to Toxic Shock Syndrome, it is used in disposable nappies for the absorbency it provides. The Q&A section on Huggies’ website states that if that ‘gel’ finds its way on to your baby’s skin, it is harmless and can just be wiped off. I find it hard to understand how in adults it can cause TSS, but in children it is safe.

I have been doing a fair bit of reading on this whole reusable nappy business, and have been generally surprised that the women who have chosen to follow this path are not poverty stricken, downtrodden housewives who can’t afford the  ‘convenience’ of disposables.

In fact, the majority of them seem to be of the opinion that, although perhaps sceptical themselves at first, they would now not go back to disposables at all.

It is with keen interest that I embark on this journey.

Categories: Cloth Nappies


Adventures in Cloth Nappies – Part 1

  1. All my siblings and I wore cloth nappies! I remember the images of our clothes line packed permanently in nappy linen. Memories!

  2. I used ‘sposies on my soon.On my girls cloth.In comparison, I think cloth is better.I started off with brand new terry squares and then bought 2nd hand Motherease nappies and wraps so they have been used on 3 children.I have also bought 2nd wraps on-line and friends have sold me their old stash.So all in all I have spent less than £300 over almost 5 years.Even with 3 children I don’t find the washing and drying any burden at all even in winter.I also use disposable liners, I wash ones with just wee on and fleece wipes with my own washing solution
    .-= Aly´s last blog ..Red Ted Art’s Get Crafty- June 2010 – Nature =-.

  3. I don’t know what downtrodden means but speaking as a mother who’s family lives below the poverty line. ( before someone asks why we have children if we are so poor I will answer with this everyone can afford love and my children don’t want for anything) I want to use cloth diapers for my baby and babies in the future. This all came up because I have a diaper genie that has to be taken out every two days that’s A LOT of diapers to just throw away and why when there are other alternatives. Unfortunatly with anything new it’s a bit cost effective to get started so I plan to buy all my cloth diaper stuff little by little and plan to start in may wish me luck!! Although there are a lot of wonderful Twitter mommies helping me find diapers I can afford t help me get started sooner I am soooooo excited!!!!

    1. @Celina Hosp, I’ve done the same thing. I can’t afford to buy them all in one go, but we’re buying a few at a time and using disposables in between. I wish I didn’t have to use them at all, but the fact is we have to make do with what we have. Good luck with your journey! (P.S. You were the 1000th comment on my blog!!)

  4. Yay cloth diapers!
    They smell LESS than disposables. They are so nice and soft and safe to put on your babies skin. They look nicer too. They are the BEST!
    Have fun, and let us know if you need any tips.

  5. We have new cloth diapers here that have a biodegradable flushable inner, I am very interested in those. Where I live disposables are recycled really, really well. And we have a huge water shortage so it makes sense not to add to the water issue, but I liked the idea of flushable inners. I dont think I have what it takes for cloth diapers, When I had my dayhome, one of the boys used cloth and it was absolutely gross, he always smelled of pee and had a pretty constant diaper rash. Maybe it was the kind of cloth diapers they used, I dont know, but it grossed me out! I admire you for this big step! Keep us posted! (pun intended!)

    1. @Andrea, The Green Party came round here last week asking what my greatest concerns are in the borough and I said that we dont recycle food or nappies (that, and the homeless guys that sit on the corner drinking beer at 10am, but that’s not really relevant here!:)) I’m surprised about the boy in your day home, because I’ve found the experience to be different. Read about it in part 3! 😛

  6. Hooray for you going the reusable route! I tried the cloth diapers that have to be pinned with my first, and after shoving the pin through my thumb cuticle, I switched to disposable. In retrospect, I should have spent the $200 on the good all-in-one reusables with the velcro.

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