To fluff or not to fluff...

Sunday, 2 September 2012 0 comments

 Okay, so a long long time ago, before I had any children and we were having our first baby we were full of excitement about our impending bundle of joy. We had a list of things we needed to buy, and I was in charge of buying these things as cheaply as possible. Well, okay, not cheaply, but cost effectively, we wanted good quality stuff that wasn’t going to break the bank (for one reason or another at that point we had gone from both being relatively comfortable financially to being on a bit of a shoestring budget).

So, we made up our list, we were checking it twice, and one of the things we kept coming back to was nappies. Now, I am, in part, an environmentalist. I did Environmental Earth Science as my degree, so that proves it – environmental is even in the title see? I considered cloth, but a few factors swayed me from it, mainly, the fact that granny Jan offered to pay for our nappies for a year as a present to celebrate Isaacs birth and I thought hmmm I might be quite busy with a baby so not much time for all the extra faff.

1.       Water usage, we take our water for granted in this country, because we have what we perceive to be a plentiful and cheap supply. At the time I did 1 wash per week max at 60 degrees, with real nappies I would be washing at least every other day at 60, and most nappies need additional rinsing on top. I don’t care how efficient your washing machine is – that’s a definite increase in water. The embedded cost of water in the manufacturing process of disposable nappies is probably quite high, but then again, it’s not going to be low in the manufacturing of reusable’s either, added to the extra washing and toilet flushes I reckon those two aspects weigh each other out.

2.       Energy Usage. Very similar to above, only I’d expect disposables to win on this front – the manufacturing process is so streamlined it can churn out thousands of nappies an hour. Once you have them in your possession the only further energy required is in taking them to landfill. Reusables require energy to make them too, but once you have them you need to wash them – using electricity in your home, once you’ve washed them the additional effluent from your washing machine requires treatment at the wastewater treatment plant – which has a ridiculously high energy usage. If you live where I live, in Scotland I’ll want to put them in the tumble dryer too because I want the next load dry before I run out, yet more energy.

3.       Landfill. Okay, I think reusable’s win here for sure. I’m not going to quote any figures (I’m not that kinda girl), but I’m betting LOTS of nappies go to landfill and take up very valuable space and create muchous pingopongs. I’m not that bothered though because I know that give it a few years and our landfills will be our mines of the future. We’ll be digging them out to extract all those precious chemicals and heavy metals that we are currently sticking in there. It’ll provide jobs for the masses and a technological revolution in mineral extraction methods. It will also smelly pretty bad too.

4.       Emissions – yes, my babies bum is often stinky. But the emissions I mean are more in the Carbon Dioxide front. We all know the jargon, Carbon Footprint, Carbon Calculator, Carbon trading blahblahblah. Okay – so making both types of nappies releases Carbon. Both are shipped over here (don’t deny it – even though your local WAHM might of made the nappies up – the fabrics she is using are more than likely brought over from a very similar place to where the disposables come from). Real nappies use electricity is washing – which increases demand on the power grid, which causes an increase in Carbon Dioxide output (amongst other gases) at power stations. Reusable’s need to go to landfill, releasing emissions from the bin lorry.

5.       Benefits for baby. I can’t find that either is better or worse for babies bum. I’m from the school of what works for baby works for baby. Some babies get sore bottoms wearing disposables and not reusable’s, some get sore bottoms wearing reusables and not disposables. Some just get sore bottoms. I’m a sceptic on this one unless there is an actual allergy or sensitivity to something in the nappy – and I’ve know more babies being allergic to bamboo than I have anything in disposables...

6.       Cost... hmmm a tough one, depends upon so many things (detecting a theme here anyone?!). A giant stash of brand new top of the range reusable’s costs ALOT – a whole heap of top brand disposables costs a lot, nappies in bulk from a ‘own brand’ store don’t cost too much second hand or eBay cheapy reusable’s don’t cost too much. It’s swings and roundabouts – but one thing I do like is once you have spent your money on reusable’s you are done except for extra energy cost from washing machine/tumble dryer and water if you’re on a meter. With disposables if you can’t afford them one week in the future you’re in trouble. Also, the cost of reusable’s can be spread between your children and used over and over (unless you’re like me and have two children in cloth at the same time and then you need more – doh).

7.       The cool factor. Okay, there is no doubt; fluffy bottoms are cuter and yummier than non-fluffy. You get to have lots of fun picking designs and colours and your baby looks uber cute. Nuff said.

So, all that said, and much left unsaid, we have swapped to the world of cloth, and I’m LOVING it. Don’t care about anything else, my babies are happy in them and I am happy using them so all is well. Don’t be scared if you’re thinking of making the switch, wanting to ‘just because’ is a good a reason as any – because all of the other reasons can be argued each way but how you feel is how you feel and that’s a fact.



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