Babies are amazing little things and the parenting journey, while full of rewards can be extremely daunting.
One of the many decisions to make, is what type of nappy is the best for your baby, especially when you consider that you will use over 10,000 nappies during your babies’ infancy, so getting this question right, will not only impact you and your family, but the environment too.
Disposable nappies are a thorny issue. Traditionally made from plastics and some pretty harmful chemicals, they became popular in the 1950’s, freeing new moms from the grind of sanitising and washing cloth nappies. They quickly became the nappy of choice for generations to come.
But, convenience comes at a significant environmental cost. Each disposable nappy will take over 1 cup of crude oil to manufacture and 500 years to breakdown once they make it into landfill. And according to Sustainability Victoria, over 2 billion nappies reach landfill in Australia every year. That’s a lot of nappies (containing a lot of poop) and each one has the potential to send over 100 different viruses to nearby groundwater. Not fun statistics!
Cloth nappies, while inconvenient have been thought to be the lesser of two evils, especially when considered against traditional disposables. But...they use large amounts of chemicals, electricity and water to clean (not to mention heaps of time) and are prone to leaks and nappy rash. So they are less than ideal!
And, all of this before we even start talking about wipes, which are just as bad!
So, is there a good alternative?
Compostable eco-friendly nappies and wipes made from plant-based materials are more sustainable and nourish the earth as they breakdown. Admittedly, they are not perfect - they still contain small amounts of plastic (think tabs and elastic), but they go a long way to solving the problem.
And while the major manufacturers will have you believe that any eco-friendly nappies available will not perform well, this is just not the case. Eco-nappies, in general, perform just as well, if not better than conventional disposables.
Greenwashing is everywhere, so you don’t get caught, here is what to look for when deciding on a your eco-brand :
What are the nappies made from?
To be truely sustainable, eco-nappies should be made from a source material that reduces the use of natural resources. Look for bamboo, since this uses up to 80% less water, land and pesticides than other crops. It also grows extremely quickly, enabling it to keep up with demand
Composability / biodegradability
Good eco-friendly nappies have at least a 70% composability or biodegradability rate. Just because a nappy is 'plant based' doesn't guarantee it is compostable or biodegradeable, so make sure any claims are backed up by independant certification. Be wary of brands that claim 100% composability – it’s just not possible with current materials available.
What eco-credentials do they have?
Look for SGS certification (confirming biodegradability rate) and FSC certification (confirming use of sustainable forests). Also look for OK Bio-base certification (confirming source material is natural).
What material is used in the absorbent core?
Look for brands that use FSC approved bamboo or wood pulp. Bamboo is best.
Any Nasty Chemicals?Look for the OEKO-TEX standard, for peace of mind.
What Packaging do they Use?
Packaging made from PLA (corn starch) is compostable. Be aware of craft paper, it is often lined with plastic. If ordering online, check if you order is delivered in compostable packaging.
Are they charging a Green tax?
Look for Brands that don’t charge extra simply because they are offering eco-friendly products without adding any extra value.
So the bottom line (pun intended) is you can enjoy the convenience of disposable nappies, while taking a stand against plastic pollution and waste, and still giving your little bundle of joy a comfortable, dry bottom!