Real nappies move from 'niche to mainstream'

In the run up to Real Nappy Week anti-waste campaigners are trying to persuade busy parents that cloth nappies are an easy alternative to disposables.

From March 11 to 18 the Real Nappy Campaign will be championing their chosen babywear, launching the annual intensification of their efforts to reduce the mountain of landfill waste produced by disposables.

According to the campaign, which is co-ordinated by the Women's Environmental Network (WEN) and backed by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), eight million disposable nappies are thrown away every day in the UK.

This will be the 11th year of the campaign and the message this year will be that cloth nappies have moved from being a niche to a mainstream choice.

Modern cloth nappies are a far cry from the traditional square of terry toweling used in the past and many trendy and easy-to-use designs are now widely available from an ever-growing number of local and online suppliers and some high street stores.

New parents, however, still need accurate information and support, to make an informed decision about which nappies to use.

Research for Women's Environmental Network (WEN) last year found parents who hadn't tried them thought cloth nappies were difficult and messy but parents who have the chance to try them out find them easier than expected.

Four out of five who tried them said they'd continue to use them after the trial period.

This year's campaign aims to ensure that even more parents and carers have a fair choice of nappies.

Last year, Real Nappy Week attracted record support with the backing of over 90% of UK local authorities, and almost 600 worldwide events in the UK, Australia, China, Ireland, Mexico and New Zealand.

Details of plans for Real Nappy Week's 11th Anniversary events can be viewed on from early February.

According to the campaign, cloth nappies have three main advantages:

  • Cost Home laundered nappies could save parents around £500 on the cost of keeping a baby in nappies.

  • Health Disposable nappies are made of super-absorbent chemicals, paper pulp and plastics, while real nappies are mostly made of natural fabrics. Organic cotton and hemp nappies and organic wool waterproof covers are available at a reasonable cost.

  • Waste Nearly three billion nappies are thrown away in the UK every year. Around 90% end up in landfill. It is not known how long it takes for the plastics in disposable nappies to decompose as even the oldest are still at the earliest stages of decomposition and the complete process could take hundreds of years.

    As well as the national campaign, countless councils also use the week to highlight their own initiatives to reduce nappy-based waste which often include cash incentives, subsidised services and similar schemes to encourage parents to steer clear of disposables.

    People wanting to find out more can type their postcode into the campaign's nappy finder service to see what is available near them.

    Sam Bond

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