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Disposable nappies mean babies dump two tonnes eac

14 May 2004

Disposable nappies mean babies dump two tonnes each

Cloth nappies will be making a comeback if Green Party MP Mike Ward and Angela Dixon of Funkybumz have their way. The two waste campaigners will this weekend launch a nationwide campaign in Hamilton to persuade parents to get their babies out of disposable nappies.

"Wearing throwaway nappies, each baby puts two tonnes of waste into New Zealand landfills during its infancy," said Mr Ward, the Green Party Zero Waste Spokesperson.

"Once in the ground disposables reportedly take at least 75, and possibly as long as 500, years to break down. 1.3 million trees and over half a billion cups of crude oil per year go into making the disposable nappies used in New Zealand. Disposables use 90 times more renewable materials and eight times more non-renewable resources than cloth nappies and the energy to make one disposable would wash 200 cloth nappies. Disposable nappies are clearly an environmental disaster.

"And they don't come cheap. Parents using cloth nappies save up to $1500 per year or $30 per week.

"The modern design of ready folded and shaped nappies take the chore out of fitting and cleaning. Nappy liners are re-usable and flushable which means mess is easy to remove from the nappy and with washing aids such as soaks, nappies can always be sanitised and white. There are also a number of nappy laundering services, which provide affordable washing care.

"Wearing cloth nappies could also be better for babies' health. 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, but which were deemed unsafe and removed from tampons in 1985.

"New Zealand local authorities need to take a leaf out of the waste manuals of the 80 British councils that are now making it easier for parents to make the shift to reusable cloth nappies. Initiatives in the UK include subsidies for modern shaped nappies and pick-up washing schemes, paid for with landfill charges and savings. It costs the Christchurch City Council $600,000 per year to dispose of nappies to landfill, imagine what environmental savings there could be if this money was invested in incentives to use cloth nappies.

"Over the course of their lives, babies are the ones who will reap the greatest consequences of adults' current wasteful behaviour. In the present, babies are also likely to be the ones who most benefit from an additional $30 a week in the family budget," said Mr Ward.

What: The "Choose to Reuse" cloth nappy campaign launch, Who: Speakers will include Mike Ward (Green Party), Angela Dixon (Funkybumz) and Diane DeEstina (Home Birth Association) When: 12 noon, Saturday 15 May. Where: The Parent and Child Show at the Claudelands Showgrounds in Hamilton.


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