Categories
environment Nappies reuse

Are cloth nappies cheaper?

I originally wrote a blog post on this a few years ago, but the disposable and the cloth nappy markets have changed so much recently, that it’s worth visiting again.

When I first started running a nappy library and retailing cloth nappies, it was as clear that using cloth nappies would definitely be cheaper. However, disposables have gotten a lot cheaper, especially since Lidl and Aldi have entered the market, meaning it’s not as clear cut as it used to be.

We’ll start with the assumption that the average baby will go through 6,000 disposable nappies a between birth and potty training as that is what research suggests. We will also use the assumption that you only buy 25 cloth nappies.

In Aldi disposable nappies retail at 85p for 24 or £4.39 for 98. Pampers were on at £12 for 52 or £18 for 104 or £8 for 39 for their “Eco” brand. That makes 3.5p per disposable for Aldi newborn 4.4p per bigger size disposable. Pampers are 23p to 17.3p for their normal brand, or 20.5p for their eco brand.

So, the cheapest disposables would cost £240 over 2.5 years, Pampers £1,038 and Eco £1,230.

Cloth nappies

Cheapest option – £100 for a birth to potty terry square kit – 24 terry squares, 6 wraps, bucket, liners.

Midpriced option – Ecobebe from Ecopipo all in two system – 5 complete nappies @ £10.99, 15 Ecobebe inserts @£5, 5 Ecopipo night nappies @£10.49. 3 wraps @ £10.49 = £213.87

Expensive option – 20 Tots Bots Easyfit – £360, 5 bamboozles @ £12 and 3 wraps @£12 = £456.

Accessories – Grow Up Green accessories kit (bucket, 2 x bucket mesh, wet bag, 20 fleece or 200 disposable liners) = £35

Washing – £1.00 for A or A+ machine and detergent = £125

Comparison of costs

So, from the table you can see, if budget brands suit your baby, then disposable nappies are fractionally cheaper. However, as you can use cloth nappies on more than one child and/or sell them on when you are done, then actually cloth would still work out cheaper. You could further save money by buying second-hand, bulk sets and kits and taking advantage of offers and sales. If you were planning on using Pampers or an eco-brand of disposables, you would definitely be saving money using cloth nappies.

Of course, the cost isn’t everything when it comes to using cloth nappies – there’s the environment and the cuteness to consider too. But knowing you aren’t breaking the bank while switching to cloth is always good to know!

Categories
environment recycle reduce reuse

5 reasons why recycling isn’t the answer…

I bought a take out coffee at the weekend. I was manning a nappy info stall at a local nearly new sale, and had had the foresight to take my reusable coffee cup with me. I popped across the road to the well-known coffee outlet and ordered my coffee and handed over my cup. Unfortunately, my cup didn’t fit underneath their machine, so I watched in astonishment as the barista picked up a disposable cup to dispense my coffee and pour it into my reusable cup. I expressed my displeasure – why could she not have used one of their pot cups and put it in the washer? “Oh!” she said, “it’s OK, we recycle the paper cups!”

This attitude seems all pervasive. It seems that we don’t have to worry about what waste we produce because “oh well, it will be recycled.” People are even looking at ways to recycle disposable nappies as a way to remove the impetus to use cloth.

No. Recycling is at best third on the waste reduction pyramid. It comes after REDUCE and REUSE (but others would argue REPAIR and REPURPOSE need to go in there too). Here’s why:

  1. Recycling still uses huge amounts of energy and water. Admittedly, depending on what you are recycling, between 45% and 75% less energy then creating the product new, but still huge amounts of energy;
  2. Recycling doesn’t produce like for like quality. Whilst aluminium can be melted down and just made into more pop cans, most raw materials are acutally down cycled rather than recycled. Recycled glass tends to be slightly coloured and recycled plastic is at best discoloured and at worst is downcycled into something else such as infill for roads or “eco bricks”
  3. Recycling is cost inefficient and largely subsidised by local government (source Popular Mechanics );
  4. We do not have the capacity to deal with the amount of recycling we generate in this country and much is shipped overseas to countries such as Turkey, Malaysia and Poland which is a climate change problem (source The Guardian )
  5. Much of the waste we think we are recycling, may actually ending up in landfill either here or overseas. Recyclable waste that is dirty (or “contaminated”) cannot be recycled, so is diverted to land fill.

Now, obviously, I’m not telling you not to recycle. But don’t think of it as your first port of call when choosing whether something is good for the environment. Think first REDUCE (do I need it, do I already have something else that will do the job, can I borrow it?) then think REUSE (take a refillable bottle or coffee cup, reuse a carrier, use a cloth nappy, cloth san-pro) then, and only then, think can I recycle it.