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Cloth Nappies

by Joanne Austin

FILED IN: Children · Issue 13

For the past 20 years, most mothers have unfortunately considered disposable nappies as essential.

For the past 20 years, 95% of mothers have considered disposable nappies an essential item. This is beginning to change as we become better informed about the negative effects, as well as a result of the revolutionary way in which cloth nappies are now made. No Longer are cloth nappies considered the “poor relation of nappies”.

Here are a few good reasons why more & more mothers are either fully or partially converting to the use of cloth nappies.

There are 3 key reasons how re-usable nappies can benefit families and the world at large:
1.Environment / Reduce Waste:
One baby uses an average of 5000 nappies (or 5.4 nappy changes per day). Due to the plastic content disposables are not bio-degradable. One just needs to visualize the mountain of dirty disposables ending up on a land-fill site for every child in disposables over the past 20years to get the bigger picture. Can we really afford another 20/ 30/40/ 100 years of the same?
Just 20-24 re-usable nappies are needed. Washing them at 60oC in an energy efficient washing machine helps reduce the global warming impact.

The “poo” in nappies mixed together with household waste lets off a gas called methane; which contributes to global warming.

Sanitary landfill sites are not designed or permitted to contain faeces and therefore have no solution to the growing number of dirty disposable nappies ending up at the dump. Basically “poo” belongs in the “loo”; which then goes through the sewerage system for downstream treatment.

In South Africa it is known that whole families live around landfill sites. Dirty disposables add to the risk of disease spreading to these vulnerable communities. There is also a risk of ground water contamination when the contents of the disposables seep through the earth. Cape Town is currently facing a major landfill airspace crisis. Two years ago 6 landfills were operational, and a few months from now we will have only 3 operational.

Of the 3 landfills, Bellville will close in 2013, Coastal Park 2022 and Vissershok 2017.
Household waste is increasing by a rate 5% higher than the growing population rate. The more affluent an area becomes the greater the amount of waste disposed. Affluent areas also use more disposable nappies.

There are some smaller municipalities in the Western Cape with bigger problems than Cape Town. The Johannesburg City area also has a crisis at hand.

Ten top tips to help the environment when using cloth nappies (Women’s Environmental Network,UK):
Use an energy efficient washing machine
Wash soiled nappies at 60 degrees c
Wash wet nappies and waterproof covers at lower temperatures along with the rest of your laundry
Avoid tumble drying – hang nappies out to dry
Avoid soaking – store wet nappies dry in a lidded bucket
Avoid using unnecessary chemicals such as conditioners and sanitizers
Never iron nappies or covers
Extend the life of your nappies - reuse them on another baby, or give/sell them to someone else
Use washable liners

2.Save Money:
By washing nappies at home families could save around R7,000.00 per child (more if the same nappies are used on the next child). Even by incorporating cloth nappies into one’s disposable nappy system families could save thousands. Hospitals can save money too by using reusable nappies on wards where disposables incur clinical waste charges. Municipal authorities save on waste disposal expenses.

3.Modern Cloth Nappies are Trendy & User-friendly
Modern reusables have advanced considerably over the years. They are shaped and fitted and fastened without the need for pins. They come in a variety of trendy styles and patterns. Colourful or natural, plain or patterned, organic cotton or bamboo, fleece or wool - there is such a range of reusable nappies that you are bound to find something to suit your taste, budget and lifestyle.

By using the advances in technology in fabrics such as breathable waterproofing, highly absorbent and natural bamboo toweling and light-weight fabrics, reusables function better than ever. A flushable & biodegradable liner can be used inside the nappy and this can be removed so that the contents are flushed down the loo.

Commenting on the Environment Agency report suggesting disposables and “real” nappies had a similar environmental impact. Elizabeth Hartigan of Women’s Environmental Network said “Supporters remain convinced of the benefits of washable nappies. Parents can save money and reduce waste and reduce harm to the environment. The only way parents can reduce the environmental impact when using disposable nappies is to use fewer nappies and that’s not a good idea. Using real nappies puts parents in control. All you need is a sensible washing routine to really make a difference.”

As a company Mother Nature Products aim to give parents an informed choice in an effort to minimise waste and encourage natural-style health benefits. We invest heavily on the quality and performance of our products yet maintain affordable retail prices. Our service is centered on customer care and addressing our customer’s needs. Our customers are parents and their babies from all walks of life, from all over the world.


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