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What To Do?

Information on your nearest nappy laundry service is available from....(German address given). 

 

An increasing number of communities pay a subsidy to parents using a nappy service. If you want to wash nappies in your own washing machine, 60° C temperature setting is sufficient to kill germs. It is unnecessary to boil nappies. If you use a drier, the ecological burden is increased dramatically. 

 

Washing nappies and pants before first use reduces chemical residues in the textiles. Opinions are divided on whether so-called nappy dermatitis occurs with cloth diapers or disposable nappies. To prevent baby from developing nappy rash or fungus, there is a simple recipe: leave baby’s bottom bare as often as possible.

Opinions also differ widely as to whether babies will be potty trained earlier when using either method. The decisive factor is certainly baby’s discomfort in a wet nappy or diaper. Looking at the disposable nappy, negative points are the use of wood pulp and plastics in the manufacture of nappies. Pulp comes from trees, obviously; plastics are made of petroleum, a non-reproducible raw material. Also, large amounts of water are being polluted in the process. Furthermore, superabsorbent granules are used in the manufacture of nappies. These consist of polyacrylate and are located under a porous layer inside the nappy. They absorb urine and turn into a gel. This way, baby’s skin is supposed to stay nice and dry, since the viscous gel cannot seep back. This Polyacrylate ends up in the waste dump, together with the used nappy. Christel Karesch, spokesperson for Procter & Gamble, manufacturers of Pampers™ in Germany, concedes: "To be honest, it does take quite a long time to disintegrate". Mr. Michael Suhr, nappy expert with the Federal Office of Environment (UBA), is more precise: "polyacrylate is non-biodegradable". Therefore, they advise against composting of disposable nappies, a method that has been under consideration by some companies and also communities. 

 

The opposition are painting a warning picture of a mountain of waste, undoubtedly created by disposable nappies. The team for environmental statistics of the Technical University, Berlin estimates an annual average of 5,7 to 13,5 kilograms of nappies are disposed of per German resident - approximately 2 - 11% of the domestic waste, depending on how much waste is produced in a community. On the other hand, there is no waste disposal problem with cloth nappies. However, they are made of cotton. Production of cotton requires massive amounts of water and - unless in controlled organic cotton production - also large amounts of pesticides. Furthermore, producing the laundry detergent which goes into the washing machine, and comes out again polluting the water cycle has to be taken into consideration.


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