picture-1Today’s New Zealand Herald carries a story about a West Auckland maternity hospital, Waitakere Hospital, that has made the switch to modern cloth nappies. This alone will save  80 000 nappies from going to landfill every year. 


New dress code for babies to save planet 

Parents leaving the hospital with their babies will have the choice of hiring a cloth nappy kit at half the usual price, or switching to disposables.

West Auckland Health Services Foundation’s Dr Nicole Bassett said using cloth nappies could cut the household waste of a family with one baby in half.

The foundation and Waitakere City Council decided to switch to cloth nappies after a three-month pilot scheme saved about 20,000 nappies going to landfill.

Dr Bassett said feedback from the pilot scheme showed cloth nappies were not difficult to use and did not cost the hospital significantly more than disposable nappies.

Parents who picture themselves struggling with pins and squares of fabric might be pleasantly surprised at the new breed of cloth nappies. Dr Bassett said modern versions came prefolded in different shapes and sizes and fastened neatly with velcro.


Figures compiled by the Zero Waste New Zealand Trust and used by the Waitakere City Council said disposable nappies used 3.5 times more energy, eight times more non-renewable raw materials, and 90 times more renewable materials than washable nappies.

The figures also showed that it took as much energy to produce one throwaway nappy as it did to wash a cloth nappy 200 times.


Canberra students make and donate MCN to mothers in crisis

Students in the ACT have been bringing cloth nappies and community outreach together.

The Canberra Times reports:

“Nappies that keep saving the planet


“Melba Copland Secondary School students were selling the benefits of their prize-winning reusable nappies when they visited a group of expectant and new mothers this week.

Four members of a textiles class presented 40 hand-made reusable nappies to the residents of Karinya House, a service for mothers in crisis.[…]

Ms Gallagher estimates that eight to 10 disposable nappies are used at the service per baby, a day, at a cost to mothers of about $55 a week.

Reuseable nappies cost as little as $5 to $10 to make at home and about $25 pre-made, which could relieve financial pressure for mothers in all situations.

The school was named a ”Sustainable Living Champion” by a University of NSW competition for making the reusable, adjustable nappies with polar fleece, nylon and bamboo-based fabric as the absorbent material. The teacher responsible for the nappy program, Ketley Merle, said that the products also had environmental benefits, especially when washed with environmentally sound techniques.”

British report reveals reusable nappies offer substantial enviro benefits.

From the Australian Nappy Network:

The Environment Agency, UK, has revealed that using reusable nappies, as opposed to disposable ones, can save families, carers and the environment 40% in carbon emissions.

The ‘Updated Lifecycle Assessment Study for Disposable and Reusable Nappies’, published on Friday in the UK, was the largest and most comprehensive study of its type ever to be undertaken examining the environmental impacts of the two nappy systems. 

Lucy Westerman, Director of the Australian Nappy Network is delighted with the findings, saying that, “This report represents a dramatic step forward in propelling community education, amongst parents and carers, and confirms exactly what we have known for many years – that reusable nappies really are much better for the environment than disposables.”

The quantity of disposable nappies currently being sent to landfill, in Australia alone, is reaching dramatic proportions.  Recent research shows that Australians are throwing away one billion disposable nappies every single year, with each of these taking up to 300 years to fully decomposei. 

“The environmental impact of disposable nappies in Australia is immense,” explains Ms Westerman.  “Coupled with the landfill issue you also have to consider the impact of the materials, chemicals and resources that go into the manufacturing and packaging of disposables.”

“The Report demonstrates that by simply washing reusable nappies in full loads, using an energy efficient washing machine, set under 60º Celsius, line-drying them and reusing them on other children provides over 40% reduction in carbon emissions, compared to the use of disposables.”

“In Australia, obviously we have to be very conscious of using our water efficiently but we have the significant benefit of the climate, which enables most Australians to air-dry throughout the year,” she continued.

Today’s reusable nappies bridge the gap between the cloth of by gone eras and disposables.  Reusables are increasingly produced with minimal impact from highly absorbent sustainable eco-friendly fabrics such as organic cotton, bamboo and hemp.  Such fabrics are incredibly effective and soft for your baby to wear with the added convenience of being quick-drying, fitted like disposables or flat, with velcro, snappis or press-stud fasteners and no longer requiring soaking.

“Typically a baby will get through between 4000 and 6000 nappy changes before it is toilet trained, so when you consider the impact of this on the environment and the cost effectiveness of using reusables, it’s a win-win situation, not only for the environment but for your pocket too.” 
“If you then go on to reuse these nappies on another child you create even greater savings and by adopting reusable nappies means that parents and carers are in control of the impact they have on the environment,” concludes Ms Westerman.


Read more here at the Australian Nappy Network.

Cloth nappies cut carbon emissions by around half: Environment Agency

An updated Environment Agency report concludes that reusable nappies, used sensibly, reduce carbon emissions dramatically. The myth of “disposable and cloth nappies having the same environmental impact” has been well and truly busted.

Recycling & Waste Management News & Information reports:

An updated lifecycle assessment study for disposable and reusable nappies examines the environmental impacts of two systems. The report analyses the environmental impacts of a child using disposable nappies for the first two and half years of its life versus cloth nappies for the same period.

The aim of the study was to update a previous report on the environmental impacts of reusable nappy types compared with disposable nappies, using a 2006 data reference point.

It says that the average disposable nappy would result in “a global warming impact of approximately 550 kg of carbon dioxide equivalents used over the two and half years a child is typically in nappies”. In comparison, using re-useable nappies that had been eco-washed would result in a global warming impact of “some 200 kg of carbon dioxide equivalents over two and a half years”.

The amount of carbon emissions saved is around the same as the difference you could make by switching 140 reams of paper from new to recycled, or by switching your machine machine over to cold water for a year and a half. (sources: stopglobalwarming.org, livclean)

Just one more small way we can all reduce our contributions to human-made climate change. Spread the word.

New FAQ: Do childcare centres do cloth nappies?

Yes! Some childcare centres embrace cloth nappies enthusiastically, even to the point of providing a flat nappy service included in the fee. With many centres, however, you may receive a lukewarm response, or resistance. These responses tend to be rooted in outdated ideas about cloth nappies.

The Australian Nappy Network has prepared a fact sheet and resources if you need to educate your childcare centre about cloth nappies.

Most importantly, please remember: childcare centres are bound by their accreditation requirements to have the facilities to deal with cloth nappies, and to respect your parental decisions. Cloth nappies are not banned in childcare centres, nor are they unhygienic; and many Ozclothnappies members are using them successfully.

You can read the rest of the Ozclothnappies FAQ here.

“Aren’t disposable nappies 100% biodegradable these days?”

New FAQ Question: * Aren’t disposable nappies 100% biodegradable these days?

Be very sceptical of biodegradability claims. Many disposable nappies are now claiming to be 70% or even 100% “biodegradable”.

Firstly, biodegradation claims are made after testing in ideal composting conditions with access to air, conditions which do not occur in our landfills. A typical household compost heap cannot cope with the output of even one baby, and soiled nappies should not go into household compost at all.

Secondly, biodegradability claims can be spurious. For one example, as of August 2008, SeNevens is under ACCC investigation for alleging that their Safeties Nature Nappies are 100% biodegradable. THe ACCC alleges false, misleading and deceptive conduct in their marketing of these nappies, in breach of the Trade Practices Act.

Link: “ACCC institutes proceedings against SeNevens International ltd

Lastly, landfill is not the most important environmental impact that nappies have. You need to look at the entire life cycle, the carbon costs, the packaging, the transportation costs, the energy consumed in manufacture, the pollution, the raw materials including non-renewable resources. Focussing on biodegradability is very convenient for nappy manufacturers who would like to greenwash their products, but it is not the whole story.

Reusable Nappy Week is coming – Volunteers wanted

There are busy busy times ahead in the coming months for the ANN and we need all hands on deck!

REUSABLE NAPPY WEEK – October 13th – 19th, 2008

It seems like AGES away, but these things creep up on us and bite us on the bum (excuse the pun) before we know it!!! If we want certain events, certain venues, certain activities, certain dates, we need to lock them in, Eddie. 

The theme this year will be focussing on fashion in cloth nappies be it tie-dyed squares or the funkiest fitted or cuttest woolies.

The week will be essentially run by the ANN (Australian Nappy Network), and costs covered for ANN approved RNW activities. Those representing the ANN or running an event need to be a member of the ANN but non ANN volunteers can be involved as well.

Some ideas for the types of things that can be done are below, if you think that you can help organise any of these in your state, have some other event ideas or can you help in any way please volunteer.


1. Contacting your state co-ordinator at modernclothnappies.org, or

2. Joining us on the Australian Nappy Network forum.


Anyone willing to contact their local library about display space, and if they are willing to lend a nappy (or few) to the cause for a week, we can provide posters and flyers.


If you have a contact at your local council or would like to seek their support could be useful.


Perhaps a fashion show with some of the tots showing off some fancy funky naps… where? When? Who? How? 


There will be a national approach regarding the media. Any tips/offers of help welcome.


We have previously organised some great workshops and would love the hear from anyone keen to share their nappy sewing knowledge and perhaps make snap presses available.


As said many times, you don’t need to commit to doing a stint on TV or a talk to 100 parents, a simple coffee catch up at a chid friendy cafe, or better still, a park, goes down really well and is fun for all. A display at a library is fantastic exposure and low maintenance. 
We have PLI for any events that require it. 

NORTHERN TERRITORY CO-ORDINATOR  – We also require a co-ordinator for the Norther Territory

GREAT DOWN UNDER NAPPY HUNT – We will be needing some helpers to assist with Hunt organisation as well.

So come along and volunteer at www.modernclothnappies.org.