Why Cloth Nappies?
A consequence of using disposable/single use items is the prevailing attitude of 'out of sight out of mind' or that by throwing something away it does go 'away'. Unfortunately that isn't the case is it? It's really helpful to break things down and look at exactly what is being disposed of.
For the purposes of this breakdown we will use the average of 6 nappies a day. This is an average take from using more on a newborn and less on a toddler and across those with heavier and lighter wetters.
If you multiply 6 by 365 days in the year you have total of 2190.
Members of the UK Nappy Network found that around 30 used nappies fit in a standard bin liner comfortably for size and weight. So.... over a year one baby produces 73 bin liners of waste in nappies alone. We can extrapolate that out over the 2.5 years the average child uses nappies for (183 bin liners) and also to account for multiple children.
You get the idea. It's a LOT of waste in your bin. Waste tends to be measured in weight so let's have a look at that.
A used disposable nappy weighs around 195g (nappicycle.co.uk) so again using the average of 6 we have 1.17kg of waste a day and 427kg a year. Over the 2.5 years that's 1,068kg. Over a metric ton of nappy waste per child.
What most people tend to focus on is cost. So here we go:
Using the figure of 6p a nappy (based on a brief look at supermarket average across brands) and the 6 used a day the totals are: 36p a day, £131.40 a year and £328.50 over the 2.5 years.
But what about wipes I hear you say? Well the average price of a packet of wet wipes is 80p, I'm told they last most people about a week. Totalling £41.60 a year. We all know that if you have wet wipes around they get used for way more than just wiping bottoms so this is probably a conservative estimate. And to be thorough let's include nappy bags (at 1p each) which adds on another £21.90 to your total.
Let's say an average spend on nappies for one child is £194.90. All of which are thrown away producing 73 bin liners weighing 427kg.
Now, in Suffolk our waste is incinerated in the Energy from Waste plant. This is preferable to waste but still nowhere near as preferable as reduction and reuse. We can't promise to reduce the amount of nappies you have to change but we can minimise the amount of nappy waste produced. You can see from these figures that even by using 1 reusable nappy a day straight away removes 12 of those bin liners from the pile.
It's very common to read comparisons looking at the financial cost of Reuseables vs disposables. And here I think it's possible to be honest. You can spend £20 each on a reuseable nappy. And if you used them full time and washed every other day you would probably need 15-20. If you used them to 2.5 years old from birth then it's still less than the £427 we worked out earlier but not significantly enough to get excited about.
If I told you that you could set yourself up to use cloth nappies full time for less than £100 that would change things right? So you would save yourself over £300. And yes...of course you can use reuseable wipes too. Maybe spending £20 on those? That's half the cost of using disposable ones for a year.
You thought I forgot about washing!! Members of the UK Nappy Network worked out that factoring in water, electricity, detergent and wear and tear the average cost per wash of nappies is 45p. And every other day washing which probably is more often than you need to wash makes a yearly total of £82. 13.
Adding together the £100, the £20 and the £82 and getting £202 for a yearly cost of reuseables.
Adding together £131.40, £41.60 and £21.90 and getting £194.90 for a yearly cost of disposables.
Similar figures. However in year 2 or 3 or 4 YOU DON'T HAVE TO BUY ANY MORE REUSEABLE NAPPIES OR WIPES. So your total costs are just the washing costs. And then say you used those nappies on a second child!!
Which ever way you spin it reuseables are a significantly cheaper option if you want them to be.