Modern Cloth Nappies - Easy, Safe, Eco
We live in a world of convenience. We’re so rushed and stressed and tired that anything that comes in a convenient “use then throw away” packet we view as a God-send.
No other species in existence has EVER created something simply for the purpose of using it once then throwing it away. All of nature has a balance, a closed loop system whereby that which is destroyed becomes new again – ashes to ashes, dust to dust, the dust feeds the flowers that grow upon the earth etc.
The battle AGAINST disposable nappies!
Here is some details on the “ingredients” contained in Huggies Disposable nappies, taken from their website:
“The inside absorbent padding on Huggies® nappies is made of wood cellulose fibre, a fluffy paper-like material, and a super-absorbent material called polyacrylate. Other materials used include polypropylene, polyester, and polyethylene. These are all synthetic materials designed to enhance the fit of the nappy and help stop leaks. The elastic strands in all Huggies nappies are made of synthetic rubber to provide a snug but gentle fit for baby. In addition, Huggies nappies feature an all-over breathable outer cover”.
Sadly, Huggies Newborn nappies have been approved for us by the Australian College of Midwives. This makes me cringe. I don’t know if they have researched what the make up of these nappies is and what goes into making them… if they did perhaps they wouldn’t be so keen to approve them for use across the country and the world.
A CBC investigation into the issues associated with disposable nappies found the following:
“The manufacture of disposable diapers requires the use of non-renewable oil resources; huge amounts of water to make valuable virgin wood pulp into non-recyclable paper used for lining the core of the nappy; dioxin-producing chlorine gas for bleaching so you have nice “white” nappies to use (which has been associated with cancer, liver disease, birth defects, miscarriage, genetic damage, and immune-system depression in animal tests); and dyes (which have been shown to cause potential damage the central nervous system, liver, and kidneys). Read more about this here.
Diapers contain a variety of plastics, adhesives, glues, elastics and lubricants, some of which can cause irritation. They can also contain polyurethane, adhesives, inks used to create the cartoon images found on many disposable diapers, and lotions used to coat the diaper liner.
These lotions often include petrolatum, essentially the same substance as Vaseline, which has the potential to be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), cancer-causing chemicals found in crude oil, according to the U.S. Environmental Working Group. Many disposables also add fragrance to their diapers to mask fecal odours or chemical odours, which in many cases contain phthalates, the class of chemicals known to disrupt the endrocrine system. That's the strong smell that diapers often give off when newly opened”.
Let’s go through it all and outline what is what – you can check sources if you want to, to confirm what I have written here is true and accurate. Please! By my guest!
The correct name for this substance is “Sodium Polyacrylate” and is used in the production of “Super Absorbant Polymers” (SAPs) which are what are technically used in nappies.
Wikipedia states: “Superabsorbent polymers are now commonly made from the polymerization of acrylic acid blended with sodium hydroxide in the presence of an initiator to form a poly-acrylic acid sodium salt (sometimes referred to as sodium polyacrylate). This polymer is the most common type of SAP made in the world today.”
These SAPs were banned from use way back in the 1980’s due to serious concerns about Toxic Shock Syndrome when used in tampons.
Acrylic acid (used in production of these SAPs) is reputed to cause severe skin irritation and irreversible eye damage. The SAPs themselves have been linked with an increase in the occurrence of nappy rash symptoms as they are commonly a skin irritant.
Employees in factories producing Polyacrylate suffer from female organ damage, fatigue and weight loss. No long term studies have been conducted to assess the risks of 24/7 exposure to this compound on a baby’s vulnerable genitals. This substance is also lethal to cats when inhaled.
2. Polypropylene / Polyester / Polyethylene
These are things we’re all familiar with.
They are synthetically produced substances mainly form from petroleum derivatives and are known as “plastics”.
Think plastic chairs from school – High Density Polypropylene.
Think plastic bags & rings for 6 pack drinks (that used to choke our wildlife) – Low Density Polypropylene
Think cling film or cling wrap - Polyethylene
Think shiny plastic-ey clothing (big in the 1980's! - Polyester
Across the world, plastics add up to between 14 - 22% volume of solid waste (according to Lentech)
Also, toxic chemicals are released during production of these plastics. “The main chemicals released when processing plastics are:
Aliphatic hydrocarbons (Grote et al., 1984; Forrest et al., 1994; Britton, 1998)
Aldehydes (Hoff et al., 1982; Frostling et al., 1984; Lewis, 1990)
Ketones and acids (Hoff et al., 1982; Frostling et al., 1984)
Earlier studies also showed small concentrations of CO (Hoff et al., 1982; Lewis, 1990), SO2 (Nelson, 1973), benzene, styrene and xylene (Hoff et al., 1982; Forrest et al., 1994) being released during plastic processing”.
3. Emissions from Nappies
Anderson Laboratories conduct tests on household items and air with mice. In 1999, Anderson Laboratories conducted a test on mice, exposing them to different brands of disposable nappies to determine responses and reactions. The completed study states: “Chemical analysis of the emissions revealed [from disposable nappies] several chemicals with documented respiratory toxicity. The results demonstrate that some types of disposable diapers emit mixtures of chemicals that are toxic to the respiratory tract. Disposable diapers should be considered as one of the factors that might cause or exacerbate asthmatic conditions”.
Xylene, Ethyl benzene, Styrene & Isopropylene were found to be leached into the environment from nappies whilst degrading in rubbish tips. It was noted in the study that xylene and ethyl benzene were emitted by the diapers, chemicals that are suspected endocrine, neurological and respiratory toxins; along with styrene, a chemical linked to cancer and isopropylene, a neurotoxin.
4. Heat Increase affects Sperm Count for Males
A study called “Scrotal temperature is increased in disposable plastic lined nappies” done by C-J Partsch,M Aukamp,W G Sippell shows that the tempreture increase of male genitals when wearing disposable nappies (because the plastics prevent the skin from breathing) has a direct link to decreasing sperm count in European males. Combine that issue with the effects of say, BPA in foodstuffs (an oestrogen mimicking substance and endocrine disruptor) and you are looking at potentially serious issues for the next generation of men.
5. Other Toxic Substances
There are other substances; TBT which was found in a brand of nappies back in 2000 “is a highly toxic biocide that has been used extensively to prevent the growth of marine organisms on the hulls of large ships” ~ Toxipedia.
As recently as 2010, Pampers was caught up in a class action lawsuit whereby their Dry Max Technology was reputed to cause burns so severe on babies, they were likened to chemical burns.
So what’s the solution?
What is the safest option for our children and the kindest option for the environment?
Wearing nothing! Ok, so that’s not practical… how about this instead?Why not think about employing a nappy service!
A nappy service further reduces resources used to launder reusable nappies as commercial facilities use 21,000 litres of water for one child per year versus 34,000 litres for home laundering. The economies of scale for using a Nappy Service mean that it is the most eco-friendly way to solve the nappy dilemma.
AND if you combine it with things like Ozone Laundry Systems which is used in place of harsh disinfectants (a process which converts O2 to O3 which then can penetrate in to the fibres of cloth more readily and remove stains and bacteria) and environmentally friendly detergents such as the ones made by EnviroCare Earth (they use citrus pith for whitening and brightening – isn’t that COOL?) it can’t be beat in terms of eco-effectiveness.
In addition, buy and plant a tree to offset you emissions and you literally have THE MOST eco-friendly nappy solution available today. There isn’t anything else out there like it and we can’t think of anything else to do to make it MORE eco-friendly… can you? Please – tell us!
So, think about it. There is some minor inconvenience for using cloth but there is MAJOR inconvenience long term for using disposables – and no one can categorically say, 100% the opposite. It is now scientifically proven – disposables are not all they are cracked up to be (yes, that pun was SO intended!)
Join us – Be a Mother FOR Nature!
Love Louisa xo