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Making the switch to reusable nappies

In the UK, 8 million disposable nappies are thrown away every day. That's 3 billion nappies a year!

According to recycling charity WRAP, by the time one baby is potty trained the baby could use 4,000 to 6,000 disposable nappies! Just one of these nappies could take more than 500 years to break down, and even then it breaks down into microplastics are harmful to ocean and aquatic life and can which can get into our soils, waterways and food chain and are harmful to ocean life.

Recent research carried out by Keep Britain Tidy's Centre for Social Innovation also revealed that there is genuine confusion amongst the public about whether or not disposable nappies are recyclable. This is leading to people mistakenly putting nappies into their recycling, which can lead to the rejection of whole loads of recycling.

The solution? Reusable nappies!

There are a wide variety of reusable nappy options without plastic, chemicals and synthetic fragrances.

By switching from disposables to reusable nappies families can significantly reduce their household waste. In stark contrast to disposable nappies, a baby only needs around 20 to 30 reusable nappies which can be used by any siblings that come along. It is estimated that by using real nappies, the average household waste of families with babies can be halved (Source: WRAP).

Although real nappies cost a few pounds each initially and need to be laundered, real nappies can save parents around £200 to £500 over 2.5 years for their first baby and even more if re-used for subsequent children (Source: WRAP).

Getting started

Have you been thinking about switching to reusable nappies? Do you want to know more about the options available and find out why ditching disposables is good for the planet, and your baby's future? Watch our Web Chat with Sustainable Merton Community Champion and reusable nappy campaigner Yasmin Redfern for all things reusable nappy related!

Sustainable Merton Community Champion Alice started using reusable nappies in 2019 when her little girl was born. She said: "I think it's very much a matter of trial and error as to which nappies will work for which baby - our little girl is rather lanky, so our favourite nappies may not work for shorter babies. We bought one or two of each type of the above nappies to try out, and have now invested in a larger stash of our favourites (Little Lambs 2 part nappies, and Close Pop-Ins). Other brands include Tickle Tots, Bumgenius, Grovia and MotherEase - and there are probably plenty more I've not even heard of!"

Read Alice's Blog to learn more about her reusable nappy experience.

New mum Derryn is giving reusables a go!

"We started using biodegradable nappies first, but, although they worked, they are very expensive. We decided to use washable nappies because although they are expensive to start with, they can last from birth to potty training if treated well! There are MANY different types and brands and at first, I was very daunted about where to start, but quickly joined groups on social media and a local "nappy library" that lends them out until you find ones that work for you. I chose the all-in-one nappies as they were much less effort, just a liner (a bit like a paper towel) placed in a nappy that does up like a disposable. They also have buttons to make them grow with the child. Very easy, and we got many of ours second hand or cheaper in ALDI during baby events (Mio Solo Bambino brand). For night time we used a different type, nappy with a waterproof (and you could buy extra pads to place in if your baby wees a lot!).

Washing was ok- I did a load every day and hung them out to dry outside or on radiators. 12 nappies was about enough in total. You can choose fun colours too! People worry about the poo side- most of this is caught in the liner but if it's not, I hosed it outside, or left it in a bucket of water to soak before popping it into the machine. But they didn't leak, once you found a brand that works for you, and can sell them on after!"

Disposables VS reusables: The debate.

Real Nappies for London reports that it is regularly asked the question: “Isn’t washing nappies, what with all the laundry powder, carbon and water used, just as bad for the environment as single-use nappies?” The answer? Depending on how you wash and dry them, reusables are up to 40% better for the environment, according to a lifecycle analysis by the Environment Agency.

The impact of reusable nappies impacts depends on consumers’ behaviour, how they are laundered and dried and whether they are passed on for use by other children. Remember to follow good eco practices like line drying when possible and washing full loads, says Tot Bots. READ MORE

Useful links

Real Nappies - WRAP


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