It’s 3am and your newborn beauty is crying, again. Your half-asleep partner gives you a quick nudge as a reminder that it’s your turn, so you sombrely make it to your feet and mosey to the baby room. While checking on the little one, you can see by the look on her face that this is not just a request for a quick rock-a-bye session, but instead that she’s got a nice little present with your name on it.
Without hesitation, you begin to go through the motions that have become like clockwork; a wipe here, a little powder there, and just your luck, there’s one disposable nappy left. Suddenly something hits you, maybe it was the VOC free paint you used in the baby’s room clearing your head, the clarity that can only come with prolonged sleep deprivation, or upon admiring the Future Environmental Warrior onesie, and you begin to wonder if going with disposable nappies was the best option for the environment. Well I can assure you that you are not the only one facing this question and that, once again, our good friend Mr. Life Cycle Assessment is here to save the day.
Every year 800 million disposable nappies are dumped in Australian landfills, making up approximately 5% of landfill content (1). With that being said, cotton (the most common material for reusable nappies) requires 12 mega litres of water per hectare to cultivate (2), and a significant amount of energy and more water nearly every day to wash and clean reusable nappies. So which option is the best? To get the answer to this challenging question were going to have to put on our life-cycle thinking caps once again…
The LCA Answer to your Nappy Nuisance is an article by Edge on life cycle assessment and ecopoints in the Green Pages by Ben Kneppers at Edge Environment.