Want to save the tigers? Or otters? Or bees? Switch to reusable nappies
It’s World Environment Day, and this year, the theme is biodiversity.
So, in this post, we're explaining why reusable nappies are better for the environment, what biodiversity is, and how switching to reusable nappies can help protect our species around the globe.
“The foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature.
Yet, these are exceptional times in which nature is sending us a message:To care for ourselves, we must care for nature.
It’s time to wake up. To take notice. To raise our voices.
It’s time to build back better for People and Planet.
This World Environment Day, it’s Time for Nature.” – Time for Nature
What is biodiversity?
The term biodiversity means the variety of different plants and animals that make up our ecosystems. If you remove one species from an ecosystem and reduce its biodiversity, everything gets thrown out of balance, often with terrible consequences.
For example, the number of bees in the UK are falling each year. With fewer bees around to pollinate plants, habitats and food for other creatures, including humans, is threatened.
Healthy ecosystems are essential for our lives on Earth, they make sure we have clean air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, materials to make things from, and weather we can tolerate.
How do reusable nappies support biodiversity?
1. Less single-use plastic
If you use disposable nappies for your baby from birth until potty training, you will probably use around 4000-6000 nappies in total, equating to 2000 kg of waste, which can take around 500 years to degrade.
Although these plastics should be contained in landfill sites, they frequently end up in nature, where they are mistaken for food by wildlife. (We're having flashbacks to the ‘Drowning in Plastic’ documentary and scientists pumping plastic out of the stomachs of birds). When animals die because they have eaten too much plastic, biodiversity goes down, and our ecosystems become unstable.
Disposable nappies: 2000kg of waste between birth and potty training
Reusable nappies: 4-6 kg of waste between birth and potty training
2. Fewer trees
Disposable nappies are made from a combination of plastic and wood pulp, which comes from trees.
Right now, we are cutting down trees much quicker than we are planting them, and estimates suggest that we are losing the equivalent of 27 football fields worth of forest every minute.
80% of the plants and animals on Earth live in forests, so it's not surprising that deforestation is one of the leading causes of biodiversity loss. Species at risk thanks to deforestation include jaguars, tigers, toucans, and giant otters, just to name a few.
By switching to reusable nappies, you are saving trees and supporting the habitats of millions of species.
3. Less water consumption
People think that reusable nappies use more water than disposables because they need to be washed, but this is not true. Manufacturing single-use nappies uses a massive amount of water. Estimates suggest that washing three loads of reusable nappies a week uses about 200 litres of water while manufacturing single-use nappies for a week uses 1,550 litres.
Excessive water use destroys wetland habitats, as water is drained away from rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water for human use, removing the homes of aquatic creatures, reptiles, amphibians, and water birds.
Disposable nappies: 1550 litres of water per week
Reusable nappies: 200 litres of water per week
4. Fewer chemicals and less pollution
Disposable nappies are made from chemicals, including crude oil. To turn the crude oil into the polymers and dyes used in disposable nappies requires intensive processes that release chemicals into our air and waterways.
Once made, your disposable nappy generates more pollution during transportation to you. When you throw your nappy away, and it is incinerated or begins to rot, more chemicals are released into the environment.
The chemicals from your disposable nappies find their way into nature and our waterways, where they can exist for a long time and accumulate in the bodies of wildlife, with severe long-term impacts.
Disposable nappies: Over 100kg of chemicals in manufacturing per baby
Reusable nappies: Less than 1kg of chemicals in manufacturing per baby
Reusable nappies don’t have to be scary
It’s important to remember that protecting the environment by switching to reusable nappies is not all or nothing – using one reusable nappy a day will save nearly 1000 nappies by the time your baby potty trains. We recommend starting with just a few reusable nappies.
Reusable nappies also don’t have to be expensive. There are reusable nappy options to suit every budget, and some cost far less than disposables. Check out our quiz or get in touch if you need help budgeting.
Lastly, reusables are easier than you think. We’ve introduced lots of parents to cloth nappies, and the feedback we hear most often is that it’s much easier to make the switch than they anticipated!
Biodiversity and nappies in brief
- The theme for World Environment Day is biodiversity.
- Biodiversity means the number of species present in an ecosystem.
- Without enough biodiversity, we will not be able to continue living our lives as normal.
- Switching to reusable nappies protects our environment and supports biodiversity.
If you need help or advice with switching to reusable nappies, get in touch!
Find out more:
- Bees: Many British pollinating insects in decline, study shows – BBC News
- Why do we need to protect biodiversity? – European Commission
- Deforestation Explained – National Geographic
- Chemical pollution, a vital driver of the biodiversity crisis – ChemTrust
- HOW DOES PLASTIC END UP IN THE OCEAN? – WWF
- Deforestation and forest degradation – WWF
- What really goes into a nappy? – BBC News
- Chemical problems – ChemTrust
- Life Cycle Assessment of Disposable and Reusable Nappies in the UK – Environment Agency