Green Party calls on council to help families ditch disposable nappies

Around 380,000 disposable nappies go to landfill every day in Northern Ireland
Around 380,000 disposable nappies go to landfill every day in Northern Ireland
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A Green Party councillor is calling on Belfast City Council to support parents who want to switch to cloth nappies.

Ross Brown will bring a motion to council calling on support for parents who want the option of a more environmentally friendly and sustainable solution to disposable nappies.

The East Belfast Councillor wants the Council to promote and support the use of cloth nappies for those who want to reduce their environmental impact and save money.

“Nappy waste is the largest identifiable category of waste which results in the disposal of eight million nappies per day in the UK” he said.

“This has a huge environmental impact and there is a cost to the Council, and ultimately rate payers, associated with the disposable of soiled nappies.

“My motion before Council is certainly not about forcing any parents to use real cloth nappies but rather supporting those who do and promoting a different option to new parents who may feel disposable nappies are the only option.

“There is a huge multi-million pound industry manufacturing and promoting disposable nappies and often the only information parents get is from those companies.

“But using real cloth nappies can actually save parents around £600 by the time their child is two-years-old and it has a knock on benefit for the environment.

“I am calling on the Council to play its part in promoting a more environmentally friendly option and to look seriously at what part it can play in changing consumer habits in this area.

“I would like to see the introduction of a Real Nappy Voucher Scheme which would offer parents a one-off payment toward the price of purchasing cloth nappies so that they can at least try them before making up their minds on the what suits them best.

“I would also like to see cloth nappies being promoted in maternity wards as currently the big brand disposable nappies are pursing active marketing campaigns in hospitals to set up a pattern of purchasing which parents then rarely question.

“My motion is about giving parents real choice and an alternative to disposable nappies by promoting and encouraging the use of cloth nappies to those who want to try something different.”

And Northern Ireland’s army of “Cloth Bum Mums” have welcomed Mr Brown’s motion.

Mother of two Kathryn Campbell from Belfast said: “I started using them when my second baby was born because I couldn’t afford to have two in disposables.

“Many of my friends used cloth and sung their praises. I used disposables with my first child as I didn’t know about how easy cloth was.

“I think they are better as they are environmentally sound, cost effective, you’re never left without nappies, no chemicals on baby’s skin and you can get so many cute designs and colours! I find cloth incredibly easy and I don’t even have a tumble dryer.

“I throw the used nappies in a bucket and only do one extra wash every 3 days or so. The bulking chemicals and gel crystals in disposables have been known to burn baby’s skin. cloth nappies are often made with natural fibres and you can get disposable liners which keep baby’s skin dry and catch any solids.”

Sarah Kelly-Cole, 34, from Whitehead has three children under seven.

She explained: “I used cloth nappies when I had Grace in 2007. I had previously worked in a nursery and found the disposable nappies awful - they leaked a lot and they stank.

“So when I fell pregnant I started to look for an alternative. I have used disposables when on holiday - thinking they would be more convenient but I was wrong. They leaked, they burst, they smelled awful, and they had to go into landfill. The cloth nappies are a LOT more reliable. They rarely leak, they have worked out a lot cheaper and they look really nice too. They also help hold babies hips in a more natural position which helps if they have ‘clicky hips’.

“Cloth nappies are better for a lot of reasons. I don’t have to worry about buying nappies every week, I never run out. They look and feel really nice - I wouldn’t like to wear paper pants myself, so why would I use paper nappies for my baby?

“I don’t have to worry about the implications of thousands of disposable nappies contaminated with human waste sitting in landfill for hundreds of years. I also don’t like the thought of how many chemicals are involved in disposable nappies.

“Financially cloth nappies make more sense - I’ve probably spent less on nappies for three babies than most parents do for one child in disposables. I would highly recommended cloth nappies to anyone.

“They are easy to use, easy to launder and better for the environment as well as being cheaper and looking a lot better. There are lots of different types available nowadays - the days of boiling terry squares and scratchy plastic pants are long gone.”

Nicola Watson, 35, from Ballyclare added: “I started using cloth nappies when Daniel was born in 2009.

“I have always been conscious of my impact on the environment.

“I hated the thought of spending all that money on disposables, just for them to sit in a pit and polluting the ground water for ever more.

“I have used disposables, when Daniel, now aged five, was in nappies I had purchased a large kit that was meant to last until he was potty training. He was on the 95th centile for height and outgrew the nappies sooner than he potty trained, I thought training would only last a few weeks, but unfortunately it took much longer and I regretted not getting the larger size nappies.

“With Thomas, who is now 17 months, I have only used 1 and a half packs of eco-disposibles when he was a newborn. I attribute that mainly to assistance I have had from Cloth Nappy Library NI who have helped me to try new styles of nappies.”

Over 2.5m nappies go to landfill each week say campaigners

According to the Cloth Nappy Library NI, an organisation that promotes the benefits of using cloth nappies, it is estimated that around 380,000 disposable nappies go to landfill every day in Northern Ireland.

The organisation which also advocates sharing and swapping of nappies encourages parents to talk about their experiences and said that local authorities here spend over £4million a year in disposal costs.

Disposable nappies account for approximately four per cent of all waste in landfill, equating to around 29,000 tonnes in Northern Ireland.

Currently 0.01 per cent of nappy users have converted to cloth nappies. The Cloth Nappy Library hope to raise this to five per cent in coming years.

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