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Plunket Should Tell New Parents All Nappy Options

25 January 2005
Plunket should tell new parents about all nappy options

Green MP Mike Ward says Plunket should not allow its sponsorship by a disposable nappy company to stand in the way of providing parents with information about the modern, reusable nappies.

Plunket is primarily supported by Government funding and public appeals, but also counts disposable nappy makers Huggies amongst its sponsors.

"The Royal New Zealand Plunket Society is a great organisation that has been entrusted by many generations of New Zealanders with ensuring all babies and preschoolers are thriving and healthy and I fully endorse and support their work and efforts," said Mr Ward, a father of three and the Greens' Waste-free Spokesperson. "It is precisely because it is such a trusted organisation with such a proud history that Plunket must be scrupulous about the information it provides."

"I'd like them to step back and have another look at their support for disposable nappies and reconsider their limited willingness to inform new parents of the far more environmentally sound, but cheaper and just-as-convenient, alternatives that are now available.

"Having your toddler in a modern cloth nappy is the latest in eco-chic."

Mr Ward's call follows Plunket turning down a request from The Nappy Network, a group of parents who promote and use modern cloth nappies, that the Society's educational material be modernised to include information about the latest reusable nappies. At present their 'Thriving Under Five' book given to all new parents actively promotes the use of disposable nappies, and contains only limited information on the reusables. The Plunket logo appears on Huggies' packets.

Sarah Jones, a successful promoter of reusable nappies in Nelson said, "Parents need up-to-date information about what styles of reusable nappies are available. Fabric technologies and design improvements mean cloth nappies are now super-dry and absorbent and washable like laundry. Nearly all styles require no pins, no origami folds and definitely no ironing, and they are no more likely to leak or result in nappy rash."

In May 2004, Plunket responded to the Government's Working for Families budget by saying that "poverty (is) one of the single biggest contributors to poor health and wellbeing amongst the nation's children."

Mr Ward: "A new solo parent will spend up to 10 per cent of their DPB on disposable nappies. Plunket recommends about eight nappy changes a day on an infant, their sponsor's product cost about 45 cents a nappy, so that equals over $25 a week. Even comparing the most expensive modern-style reusable nappy the cost is only $7.50 a week, including all washing and drying costs. The traditional cloth nappies discussed by Plunket in their material bears little resemblance to the modern cloth nappy with velcro and a stay-dry lining. By encouraging new parents to use the new cloth nappies, Plunket could make a substantial contribution to easing the financial stress on families. Many parents are happy to do an extra load of laundry twice a week if they can save such a substantial amount of money."

For information about modern cloth nappies www.zerowaste.co.nz , http://www.thenappynetwork.org.nz .


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