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Real vs. disposable nappy debate

(109 Posts)
SAHMof1 Wed 23-May-07 20:07:34

In a House of Commons debate yesterday Ivan Lewis (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health) said ?It has to be said that a report by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs found that, in the end, in terms of overall environmental consequences, there was very little difference between disposable and reusable nappies.?

Why are they still using that report when it is known to be flawed!

hana Wed 23-May-07 20:09:08

bercause it eases the conscience of those that wouldn't consider them in the first place?

(not wishing to get into a dabate here, I don't care what others may use or not and their reasons for doing so)

SenoraPostrophe Wed 23-May-07 20:15:05

I was so angry about that report.

And even given the studies findings, there was no reason to conclude that there is "no difference" because cloth nappy users can make that difference (by not tumble drying or washing at 90) where disp users can't do anything.

I'm off to write to Ivan Lewis.

MissGolightly Wed 23-May-07 20:21:21

Because Pampers probably have a crack team of parliamentary lobbyists?

Because I bet none of the MPs use reusable nappies?

Because if they came down on the side of resuables there would be instant calls to subsidise them/provide grants/take off VAT (q - are they subject to vat? I don't actually know)

Because they are lazy sods who can't be bothered to find up-to-date research and will use whatever stats justify their current viewpoint?

Take your pick.

lljkk Wed 23-May-07 20:23:39

I have encountered some misleading statistics recently.

That woman who excerpted her book in the Telegraph last week -- claimed that 90% of girls/75% of boys were out of nappies by age 2.5 yrs, anyway... as part of her argument that cloth no better.. then I found a 1997 AAP survey which said that only 22% of all children were out of diapers by 2.5 yrs (the AAP study fits my real life experience).

A 1992 study which reckoned a child's nappies required 34,000 litres to wash each year.

Took 5 days worth of nappies to fill our machine, which only needed 50 litres per wash. Result=3900 litres per year. Even American machines, using 45 US gallons/yr adds up to about 14,000 litres -- less than half the 34 kl value cited in 1992.

End of day I know the net environmental difference isn't huge, but I wish a decent analysis actually existed.

lljkk Wed 23-May-07 20:24:24

oops, 45 gallons/wash

hana Wed 23-May-07 20:27:42

but how many mps really read what they're given, reports and such? They take so many things at face value and don't research anything themselves

SenoraPostrophe Wed 23-May-07 20:27:46

really, 45 gallons a wash? that's some washin.

The thing that annoyed me was that the EA report was really good other than in it's initial data. and if you reverse-engineer tehir results (as it were), it does actually show that if they are washed at 40 or even 60 degrees and not tumble dried, terry nappies are a lot better for the environment.

MissGolightly Wed 23-May-07 20:30:32

just checked and neither cloth nor disposables are subject to VAT. Sorry, not germane to discussion but as I asked the question thought I would save anyone the trouble of answering!

Rantmum Wed 23-May-07 20:34:41

Anyway, using reusables was not just about the environment for me - it was also about not having all those gels/chemicals on my pfb's botty all day long....

And the net effect is very difficult to analyse anyway, because you are not comparing like for like - there is the power consumption for the manufacture of each, the amount of artificial chemicals used and created in the manufacture of each, the effect in terms of landfill pollution for each, the ongoing energy consumption of each, the recyclability of the each of the types nappies, and so many different factors that do not apply uniformly. I mean how do you decide how to measure whether tons landfill is better or worse for the environment than the huge energy consumption of a tumble dryer?

SenoraPostrophe Wed 23-May-07 21:13:35

rantmum - those things are exactly what the report did measure, but it assumed that most nappy washers washed at 90 and tumble dried.

HenriettaHippo Wed 23-May-07 21:20:32

So if I am (and I promise I am):

a) using washable nappies,
b) putting them in with my other washing at 40 degrees (i.e. no extra loads),
c) hanging them out to dry in summer when sunny and on clothes rack when rainy,
d) putting them on radiators in winter (which would be on anyway), and
e) washing with Ecoballs instead of washing powder, and finally
f) free cycling them when my baby has grown out of them by giving them to another person on MN,

he's going to tell me that I'm not helping to preserve the environment?

What a load of bollocks.

Flame Wed 23-May-07 21:24:51

I have had to battle sooo hard to get wording for my radio ad.

They whinged about calling disps papery and plasticy feeling...

They whinged about could save money

They whinged about could help the environment.

In the end we were allowed the paper/plastic as long as it wasn't said with a negative tone, could save money, and would be putting less in landfill.

It is that bloody report that made thems in charge feel it was too unsure to be able to put environment facts in it.

SAHMof1 Wed 23-May-07 21:30:27

I can see that comparing landfill and energy consumption might be problematic (but no-one ever said real nappies had no environmental impact) but I think of all the non-renewable resources simply wasted in disposable nappies – 4 trees worth of paper pulp per baby (and the trees cut down across Europe are ancient, diverse forests, and are being re-planted with mono-culture plantations to harvest. That isn’t addressed either.) and 1 cup of crude oil per disposable – all just going into landfill.

Also, the report didn’t take into account that real nappies are generally used on more than one baby, and it assumed that people own 47 nappies per baby that they go out and buy new for each baby.

chilledmama Wed 23-May-07 21:30:39

The thing is...we all know we're doing it for the right reasons...environment and sssooo much nicer...would you like to wear cotton pants or paper pants????

We will all get into heaven and they will all burn in landfill hell!!!

Flame Wed 23-May-07 21:37:11

The thing that irked me with the bloody ad people was that we were saying could for both the money and the environment. Not "it does" - he managed to swing the landfill one in the end by my explaining about reusing them for subsequent children, biodegradable liners etc. I said yes, ultimately the wraps etc will need to degrade, but its still a hell of a lot less than disps.

Flame Wed 23-May-07 21:37:49

CM - that's the crux of the ad... do you want to put papery/plasticy on new baby's bum, or soft fluff?

SAHMof1 Wed 23-May-07 21:40:54

When nappies finally give up and are no good as cleaning rags, Oxfam have a textile recycling plant! Wraps can be recycled too.

chilledmama Wed 23-May-07 21:47:32

Flame- sorry to hear about your struggles...my sister didn't know I used reusables and was talking about how icksome they must be (icksome being a technical term obviously). She doesn't have children yet so didn't realise that not really that icksome at all and disps just as icksome as you are still meant to try to remove solid matter before binning (yeah how many actually do that???)

What's your add thing about???

Flame Wed 23-May-07 22:03:11

I won a competition on local radio - 4 weeks of advertising

HenriettaHippo Wed 23-May-07 22:04:20

"icksome"? Poo and wee is poo and wee, whatever receptacle is holding it! And it's much easier to open the nappy and drop a liner in the loo than to try and fold up disposable and get it in a bag without getting poo on your hands...

morocco Wed 23-May-07 22:12:57

and the bit noone tells new mums is that if you use disps you seem to end up washing poo off all their clothes instead (right up to the neck - yeuchh!).

chilledmama Wed 23-May-07 23:10:37

HH- I agree with you...it doesn't help her that her only experience with children is her friend's DS who seems to have the worst tummy in the entire universe!!!
I love my washable liners...stretch and flick! So simple!

chatelskier Thu 24-May-07 07:11:09

I have been told that disposables go through 300 washing processes during manufacture. That's probably about the same as a washable goes through for each baby, so even the washing and water argument doesn't help sposies!
Also WHY isn't there VAT on sposies? there is on ready made meals and things like crisps. Surely disposables are also a :luxury" item.

hippopowell Thu 24-May-07 08:57:32

Oh chilledmam I'm still LOL at you heaven/landfill comment. We all know cloth nappies are better. Another factor they didn't consider is the new fabrics available now, bamboo/hemp soo much better than even cotton on the environment/ less water/pestcides etc)We have to do all we can to help change peoples attitudes. Write to mps telling how flawed the study was. Ohh it makes me so cross.I tell you if I had my way, pampers etc would all be forced to make cloth nappies instead.

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