Please welcome Tawha to the OzClothBlog! Tawha has been an ozclothnappies co-moderator for some time, works on the “IRL” real-life nappy shop/demonstrator list, and will be co-blogging with me.
Washable nappies are clearly better for the environment, even when you take account of the energy and water used to wash them. Using real nappies puts parents in control. With a good washing routine parents can minimise the environmental impact of their babies’ nappies, reduce waste and save themselves money.
The 2005 report based key assumptions on flawed data, which caused it to overestimate the impact of washing nappies. It also ignored the potential of modern, fitted cloth nappies, to reduce impacts.
WEN found that, even on the basis of the flawed data in the report, parents can reduce global warming impacts by 24% more than the report concluded. A 17% reduction in global warming impacts can be achieved by using an A rated washing machine and following manufacturers’ guidance to wash at 60 deg C. With A rated washing machine sales at near saturation by early 2005 many real nappy users are already achieving this saving. Parents only need use 24 real nappies, rather than the 47 the LCA assumes, reducing their global warming impact by another 6.9%.
This advantage can be even greater if organic cotton, hemp or bamboo nappies are chosen and locally supplied and if nappies are used on a second or third child.
The advantages of cloth nappies can be even greater in Australia, where line drying is possible up to 100% of the time in most areas. Nappies can be washed at 30-40 degrees much of the time, and by signing up to green power or installing solar power, your greenhouse gas impact drops further again. Transport is another big issue, with Australia’s very large distances; a cloth nappy needs to be transported to your house once (followed by 200-500 re-uses or even more); disposable nappies need to be transported to your city every week.
And don’t forget – with the money you save on cloth nappies, you could install a rainwater tank, buy a super-efficient washing machine, switch to organic vegies, or even get yourself some houshold cleaning help!