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Forget pins, soaking, and fiddly folds – today’s cloth nappies are comfortable for baby, simple to use, and super cute!

Cloth Nappy Week for 2012 starts today, 13 April and goes until 21 April.  There is even a website dedicated to educating and celebrating the benefits of stylish, eco-friendly cloth nappies in New Zealand. Whether you’re new to cloth nappies or you have a collection that’s taking over the whole house, they will put out the welcome mat.

On the website, you’ll find information about the four types of modern cloth nappies, links to nationwide stockists of cloth nappies, and information on local and national Cloth Nappy Week 2012 events.

So why choose cloth nappies over disposables?  Well, there are many reasons really.

You may have heard that reusable nappies are no more beneficial to the environment than disposables. An initial report by the environment agency suggested this but a revised report released in 2008 concluded that washable cloth nappies if laundered responsibly can be significantly better for the environment than disposable nappies reducing carbon emissions by up to 40%. The revised Defra report can be found here.

Disposable nappies contain many types of chemicals to make them fluffy, white and super-absorbent.

Because disposable nappies are bleached, they contain traces of Dioxin.  Dioxin has been connected with causing cancer in humans and also causing other diseases and health problems, such as diabetes, endometriosis and heart attacks.  Dioxin is also present in our environment through other means but by using cloth nappies you can eliminate at least one source of this harmful chemical.

Chemicals and gels contained in the absorbent layer of disposables aren’t subject to government controls or independent testing, and there is no labelling requirement on the packaging.  As nappy manufacturers are not required to disclose their “ingredients” there is no way of telling which of these chemicals are present in any particular brand of nappies.

It is worth noting that there have been NO long-term studies into the effects on skin of constant exposure to the polyacralyte super absorbent gels found in most disposable nappies (gels that were deemed unsafe and removed from tampons in 1985).

According to the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, 1.3 million trees a year are felled for NZ babies in disposable nappies. Disposable nappies use 3.5 times more energy, 8 times more non-renewable raw materials, 90 times more renewable materials than reusable nappies.  They also claim it takes as much energy to produce one disposable nappy as it does to wash a cloth nappy 200 times, and that one baby in disposables will produce 2 tonnes of solid waste!

Disposable nappies take up to 500 years to decompose in landfill sites and can harbour up to 100 different types of virus, including live polio virus from vaccines.

Keeping them clean and hygienic

That’s the worst part about cloth nappies isn’t it? My friend Madeleine, the NZ Ecochick shared her suggestions for washing cloth nappies in a blog last year.

Choose to use baking soda or white vinegar as a nappy soaker and add a drop of tea tree oil to sanitize. This costs around $40.00 per year. The nappy also turns out MUCH whiter with just the baking soda in the wash and no nappy soak. Nappy soak also means potential increase of chemicals on baby’s skin.

Did I mention the cost?  You can check out any number of cost comparisons on the net, but NZ Ecochick published this blog last year with her findings on the  true cost of nappies.

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