Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I just saw the neighbour exiting her vehicle with her young child and it got me to thinking about my own spawn that will (hopefully) exist one day. In imaginary land the first born spawn of my partner happened to be triplets. This got me to thinking about nappies, and in particular cloth vs. disposable, and their relative environmental impact.

I'm not all that aware of the relative environmental impacts of each type of nappy, not really having had cause to investigate the issue, but it is my limited understanding that for long term ecological concerns, cloth nappies have a far less impact upon the environment than do disposable nappies. In that regard, cloth nappies win.

But what of short term concerns?

Cloth nappies need to be washed in order to be used again. In a land of water plenty, that is perhaps none too great a concern. Australia though, for most of the continental land mass, is not a land of water plenty. Indeed, Melbourne's dams are below 35% capacity, and the city is still experiencing Stage 3a water restrictions.

What choice for the environmentally concerned parent? Cloth nappies, with their lower long term environmental impact but higher short term cost to water resources, or disposable nappies with their short term convenience and lower water cost but higher long term ecological impact?

I wonder, what did parents in water scarce areas of Australia do before disposable nappies were available? Surely there must have been some approach that allowed cloth nappies to be cleaned but that still saved precious water resources. I don't know, but am curious to find out.

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