February 17, 2010
I try to abide by the ethos that we have a responsibility to consume and live sustainably. I could list many things we could do better, but we try to make informed choices, buy locally produced green groceries and free range meat and recycle and compost as much waste as we can. Before our son was born, we decided we wanted to extend our belief in the importance of living sustainably into our lives as parents and one of the big decisions we made was whether to use reusable nappies or disposable ones.
The pros and cons are straight forward (but can vary depending on which side of the fence you sit on!): Disposable nappies offer convenience, arguably better performance and there are no environmental impacts associated with nappy laundry, a big factor in Australia where water shortage continues to be a problem. Reusable nappies are more economical, don’t end up in landfill and enable you to control how the waste is disposed of.
The decision was easy: I read that Australians put over one billion nappies into landfill each year and even those marketed as environmentally friendly or degradable take years to decompose due to the nature of our landfill sites. I believe the environmental and financial costs of disposable nappies far outweigh the costs associated with manufacturing and laundering reusable nappies, particularly if you have an energy and water efficient washing machine and air dry your laundry (not to mention the savings if the nappies are used for more than one baby).
I couldn’t be happier with the decision we made to use reusable nappies. There was a high initial cost but since then, we’ve saved money, energy and Ollie’s rarely had nappy rash. And the laundry is hardly a burden; we use a garden-friendly detergent and we don’t have a tumble drier but even in the winter the nappies dry quickly on a clothes stand indoors. The whole process now feels like second nature and I find it therapeutic rather than a chore... there’s something very settling about seeing the washed nappies billowing in the wind on our washing line...