Back to Publications & Articles

Why use Cloth? The Environmental Aspect

A very informative website about cloth nappies, providing articles and reviews is Below one of the articles you will find on that website.

First and foremost, we need to be thinking about the future we are creating for our children. Thousands of us were sent in to panic with talks of global warming and one of the easiest steps we can take is to stop using disposable nappies and sanitary products.

By the time the average child reaches two and a half, they will have used 6500 nappies which equates to 10 tonnes of waste which goes straight in to landfill and that is just from one child. Because of the excrement in the nappies, they release methane gas which, in terms of global warming is twice as harmful as Co2 – the nappies from one child creates 630Kg of methane gas which is the same as a car driving over 1800 miles.

It has been estimated that it could take up to 500 years for disposable nappies to break down. That means that if disposable nappies were in use during Elizabeth 1st ‘s reign, they would still be in landfill today.

A lot of parents who use disposable nappies argue that they could stomach scraping excrement out of nappies but really, regardless of what kind of nappies you use. We should NOT under any circumstances be putting human waste in to land fill although the majority of people either don’t know this or just can’t be fagged. Even disposable nappies should be emptied of any solid contents before they are thrown in the bin. Hundreds of virus’s live in disposable nappies left in landfill including live virus’s from recently vaccinated babies, which poses a massive risk to the workers’ who have to handle the rubbish. Also when we add rats and other rodents to the mix, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Over and above the obvious landfill problems, we have to consider other ecological problems when producing and transporting the millions of disposable nappies which are produced ever year. I’ve mentioned chemicals before (such as TBT) in another article (Why use Cloth? The Chemical Aspect) and the effect it has on small aquatic animals but a lot of the chemicals used also pollute out surrounding environment. Water and trees used to produce disposables is another problem. The average child will have used 2 trees during their time in nappies. Shortage of water and trees isn’t a major threat to us in the UK, but there are places in the world where children are dying because they don’t have clean water. I would rather wash my own nappies than know water is going to waste when there are people all over the world who barely have any water as a basic necessity.

Finally, energy costs in making and transporting disposables. Disposables are very rarely (if ever) locally sourced so the oil used in making the plastics and transporting them, once again pollutes our environment.

I am, by no means an eco warrior. In fact I wish I was better and I try to be but the convenience of this disposable society in which we live often gets the better of me and I didn’t choose to use cloth because of the environmental impact of disposables but now I am proud that I’m not contributing to it.

This article was published by: Cloth Nappy Info, 20 April 2011,