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Australian Families Saving Over $1600 Per Child By Switching to Modern Cloth Nappies

By Edited Sep 11, 2016 2 1

Modern Cloth Nappy
Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rotchi.jpg

Disposable Nappies are Expensive, a Health Risk and Cause Damage to the Environment

Disposable nappies, or diapers in the US, were introduced to the market in 1961 by Procter and Gamble (and later by competitor Huggies) capitalising on the desire for convenience above all else. Since then disposable nappies have dominated the market and all marketing efforts have been for the continuation of this trend. Unfortunately, like most things that are convenience-focused (fast food, for example) disposable nappies aren't exactly the best choice. 

How Much Do Disposable Nappies Cost?

For the cheapest brand of nappies in Australia the cost per child is $1,140 (25c per nappy, 5 nappies a day over 2.5 years). For the more popular brand Huggies this cost increases to $2,280 per child (50c per nappy). This cost is multiplied for each child you have (no costs are passed on between children for disposable nappies).

Health Concerns for Disposable Nappies

There are currently no legal requirements in Australia for manufacturers to label the contents of their disposable nappies. Additionally, there has been limited industry-sponsored research into any health issues that may arise from these contents.

Chlorine Bleaching is used to in some brands of nappies to create white papers from wood pulp. Chlorine bleaching is less common than in the past but it's existence is a health concern as the process leaves traces of dioxins.

Most of the disposable nappies on the market contain sodium polyacylate crystals, a type of 'super absorbent gel'. Sodium polyacylate was banned in 1985 for use in tampons because of it's role in toxic shock syndrome. There is currently no research into the effects of sodium polyacylate on infants.

Chemical gases such as toluene, xylene, ethyl benzene and isopropyl benzene have been found to be in the air emissions of disposable nappies. Such gasses have been shown to trigger acute respiratory problems in lab mice. [2137] As such there may be a link between disposable nappy use and the increasing rate of asthma in children. 

Disease transmission through faeces is a serious health concern for disposable nappies. Most families typically leave faeces in their disposable nappies and dispose of them in inside bins. This creates a risk of contamination in the home (as things contact the bin and then other surfaces), creates a health hazard for sanitation workers and can contaminate ground water. [2138]

Environmental Damage of Disposable Nappies

The environmental damage of disposable nappies is a huge concern - it takes 250ml of crude oil and enough energy to wash a cloth nappy 200 times to make a single disable nappy. Thats over 1000 litres of crude oil per child!

In Australia over 800 million disposable nappies are used, that's enough to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground three times over. Additionally, it takes them up to 500 years to decompose in landfills. The amount of disposable nappies in landfills adds up quickly.

Disposable Nappy Environmental Damage

The amount of disposable nappies in landfills adds up quickly.

Modern Cloth Nappies are a Cheaper and Safer Choice

How Much Do Modern Cloth Nappies Cost?

Re-useable nappies work out much cheaper long-term than disposable nappies. The total cost for an all-in-one Modern Cloth Nappy pack is around $670, that is a saving of approximately $1600 over Huggies nappies. The savings increase for each subsequent child as the nappies can be reused with no added cost whilst more disposable nappies are needed for each child.

Modern Cloth Nappies are Safer

Modern Cloth Nappies are made from cotton, bamboo and hemp or other natural fibres. They do not contain the chemicals, plastics and fragrances that disposables do. Even without knowing the long-term effects of disposable nappies on infants the Modern Cloth Nappies are naturally a safer choice.

Better for the Environement

A study in Australia found that cloth nappies are washed in a front loaded, cold water washing machine and are line dried, they have the least environmental impact of all nappy choices. Using Modern Cloth Nappies also prevents disposable nappies from ending up in landfills and decreases our reliance on crude oil - a natural resource of limited supply.


Natural Rascals

Natural Rascals

Australian mum, Ren Doyle of Bendigo, Victoria, is leading the local charge when it comes to the Modern Cloth Nappy. When Ren moved to Bendigo in 2010 she was swamped with questions about her sons cloth nappies at the park and playgroups. She was inspired to inform other Australian families about the benefits of the Modern Cloth Nappy and founded her business: Natural Rascals.

Ren hosts free information sessions for people interested in Modern Cloth Nappies and has a wealth of information available on the Natural Rascal website. You can even buy Modern Cloth Nappy packs and accessories through her online store.



Jan 25, 2012 7:11pm
Great article. Funnily enough, my wife and i were just talking about this on the weekend, and how we wished we had access to cloth diapers when our kids were little.
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  1. Anderson RC & Anderson JH "Acute respiratory effects of diaper emissions.." Arch Environ Health. 54 (1999): 353-358.
  2. Primomo J et al "The high environmental cost of disposable diapers." Journal of Maternal and Child Nursing. 15 (1990): 279-284.

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