Should Disposable Nappies Be Banned?

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

 

Should disposable nappies be banned?

In an article circulating today, the Daily Mail[1] they stated that the next disposable product the government are looking at is disposable nappies. Do you think that disposable nappies should be banned?

We don’t.

We believe everything has a place in society and just like we don’t use paper plates everyday as they are designed for occasional use, disposable nappies can be used in a similar manner.

For us, when travelling abroad with limited luggage or when holidaying with limited washing facilities, disposables are an easy and convenient option. We also think sometimes parents need a break, whether family sickness, feeling overwhelmed, or another of the thousand reasons that parenting can be hard sometimes.

However, occasional usage is very different from using disposable nappies at every nappy change. We can’t ignore that disposable nappies are a huge contributor to single use plastic. Using disposables generates around 6,731,000 tonnes of waste in Europe each year[2]… to put that intro perspective 8 MILLION disposable nappies are thrown into landfill every single day, in the UK alone![3].

 

They are made of more than just plastic[4], 7 million trees are cut down every year just to make disposable nappies[5], and they use large amounts of water to produce too – The manufacture and use of disposable nappies wastes 2.3 times more water than cloth nappies[6]

We have always been very open in stating the benefits of disposable nappies[7] as we feel that no one should be frightened off using them – or now, taxed out. We do even believe that reusable nappies are more time consuming – taking about a minute extra per change, and wash time too.

We celebrate the fact that when disposables were first introduced in the late 1950s, they were an important step towards effective emancipation for our mothers and grandmothers. No more long hours spent washing and bleaching terries, and all that this entailed. However, 70 years later the technology has moved on and washing machines are able to do most of the hard work when it comes to nappies. We do recognise that it does take some time, every two days, to load the nappies into the wash and then hang these out to dry after, but we feel that this is time that:

  • We aren’t doing extra trips to the outside bin, arms laden with bags of used nappies
  • We aren’t running to the corner shop to go buy nappies
  • We aren’t doing full clothing changes due to poonami explosions
  • We aren’t worrying whether we have enough money to buy the next pack of nappies that week, as we know we have our whole supply already at home

Although reusable nappies do need upfront investment, there are more budget friendly options which we can help you find in our free advice questionnaire – whether it is terry squares, TotsBots Bamboozle Pads and even the Little Love Bum Snap and Wrap which can be used with a variety of nappy boosters which you can pick up at very reasonable prices preloved. You could buy your whole stash preloved if you wanted to – not just from a cost saving perspective, reusing someone else’s no longer needed reusable nappies adds to the environmental impact too!

There are several calculations about how much you can save using disposable nappies – it all depends on brands, how long it takes to potty train and even if your baby is a super pooper, but one trusted source[8] has stated that buying disposable nappies could come to £1,875 or more over 2 ½ years, which is around 10 times more than a basic stash of handful of wraps, terry squares and boosters would cost[9]. This of course is still a large cost to those on a tight budget, but there is the amazing network of cloth nappy libraries in the UK that you can borrow nappies to use with your child, some for a modest cost – and some are even free due to the support of local councils and schemes! Don’t forget that here at The Nappy Lady we also hire out nappies and have over 70 kits available to hire.

Taxing the end user isn’t the way to help those in poverty and will only put them at a further financial disadvantage. We should lift up others by supporting and educating, helping to highlight the choices that are available to them, rather than penalising them for using disposable nappies. For some it isn’t even a choice – they don’t know other options are available.

However, we do feel that disposable nappy manufacturers should take more responsibility for the plastic waste they cause, should be more open about what is in their products and shouldn’t greenwash and advertise their products as eco or biodegradable when they are not. Finding a way to make these companies take responsibility without just taxing the end user is a challenge but one that needs addressing.

We find it incredibly frustrating that when the disposable vs reusables argument rears its head in the press, it creates conflict and often is about shaming those who use the single user varieties – using facts that are skewed or completely incorrect. We do not think that green washing helps the cause, we would love people to switch to cloth because they want to, due to fair and truly factual information which has been shared whilst they research their parenting choices.

Incentives like Real Nappies for London[10] are fantastic to help parents get started. TNL is trying to do our bit; all of our nappy videos are available for free on youtube, our advice articles can be found directly on our website, anyone can email for bespoke advice even if you haven’t bought from us and most importantly, our cloth advice questionnaire is free to use regardless of where you purchased your nappies. We even use Klarna on our website to help put purchasing more in reach to parents with little money to invest upfront.

In 2020 we helped over 25,000 families with our advice questionnaire. This is in addition to the hundreds of people we help each month with our free email advice service, our supportive Facebook group and our Facebook preloved sales group. All of this we are able to do thanks to your support and your purchases from us.

If you would like to find out more about using cloth nappies, visit our website www.thenappylady.co.uk to start your research and if you have a question please do email us at advice@thenappylady.co.uk

 

Wendy and The Nappy Lady Team

 

[9] 24 BrightBots cotton Terries, 3 Motherease airflow wraps, 5 ellas house hemp bum boosters, pack of 20 bambinex reusable fleece nappy liners, 3 snappi nappy nippas , baba and boo double zipped wet bag and 50 cotton cheeky wipes = £177.61

 

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