Nappy talk

I recently read that parents spend an average of €1,500 on disposable nappies per child. This was rather a startling statistic as I await the arrival of my third child. I already have two daughters who have been far from average in their nappy use, so I’d estimate that so far I’ve easily spent around €4,000.

This is not to mention the untold environmental damage I’ve probably caused littering the earth with dirty nappies which, according to some estimates, will take 500 years to decompose. (How can they possibly work this out? Disposables were only invented in the 20th century).

Even so, the amount of land-fill produced – the equivalent of 50 black sacks of rubbish per child – is quite considerable.
And then there’s the chlorine bleach used to make them white. Why do they need to be white? Brown bread is fashionable and much better for you than white. So why can’t the same be true for nappies?

More environmentally-friendly nappies are indeed available in certain specialist shops and they are an off-white colour, a bit like recycled paper. For this reason they’re a bit uglier than the usual nappies, just as organic vegetables are a bit uglier than the chemically-grown variety. But like organic food, environmentally-friendly nappies are also more expensive which means that a figure for the average baby’s nappies would probably be nearer the €2,000 mark, assuming you’re able to find somewhere to buy them in the first place.

So, trying to appease my guilt, this leads me to the subject of real nappies. Throughout history babies have worn cloth nappies, and in the past they had to be washed and dried by hand. Compared to what our mothers and grandmothers went through we have it easy today with automatic washing machines and tumble dryers.

What’s more, today’s cloth nappies are a world away from the Terry Towelling squares held together with a nappy pin which we wore as babies. They seem to be shaped, use a harmless ‘nappy nipper’ and have brightly-coloured waterproof pants to go over the top.
Here in Spain cloth nappies really don’t register on the radar and I’d be surprised if even 1% of mothers used them. Whenever I’ve mentioned that I’m considering using real nappies the response has been ‘Why give yourself more work?’

So what can be said in defence of the disposable nappy, which we buy in their millions? They are convenient.

All this has left me thinking that an investment of €250 for a complete set of real nappies and a saving of €1,250 might not be a bad idea.
But when push comes to shove, will convenience push its way to the front and shove my conscience to the back?

Tags: 
dispposables
environment
nappies
real
savings

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