How Bad Are Disposable Nappies For The Environment?

Disposable nappies are the most popular choice for babies by parents because it is easy to throw them away. Then parents don’t have to deal with properly disposing of their child’s waste and who doesn’t love convenience? But how bad are disposable nappies for the environment?

Disposable nappies are full of chemicals that harm plants and wildlife and can contaminate our water supplies. They take hundreds of years to break down and in this time, they contaminate the land. They also release many carbon emissions that contribute to global warming and destroy animal habitats.

While they are convenient, there are many downsides to disposable nappies impacting our environment. Read on to find out more.

What is bad about using disposable nappies?

Disposable nappies are extremely bad for our environment. They are made with plastics and super-absorbance gels that contaminate the soil and take 500+ years to decompose. During this time, they release methane and CO2 gases, along with other toxic chemicals, contributing to climate change and environmental contamination. Over a two-and-a-half-year period, 550kg of carbon emissions is produced by the disposable nappies for one child.

By the time your child is toilet trained, they could have used anywhere between 4,000 and 6,000 disposable nappies. The cost of using these is about $3,500 to $4,500 per child. In that time, the 4,000 disposable nappies will contribute to huge landfill piles and add another potential 500 years to the decomposing of these piles. Not to mention the number of toxins that will be released during their decomposing years.

Meanwhile, an alternative like cloth nappies will only cost around $1,000 for the same timeframe. And you may only need to purchase 20-30 reusable nappies. It’s a huge difference. But let’s look more into the impact of disposable nappies on our environment.

Disposable nappies are made with chemicals harmful to humans and the environment

Disposable nappies are made using a variety of chemicals that can harm our environment and children. These chemicals are released when the disposable nappies end up in landfills. Just like the effects of disposable plates and other materials, disposable nappies will contaminate soil and water which affects the growth of our plants. The chemicals can be consumed by wildlife and threaten their health. By entering the water system, these toxins can come full circle and end up back in our water bottles if we aren’t careful. Here’s a small list of the toxic chemicals in disposable nappies:

What makes disposable nappies bad for the environment?

Dioxins in disposable nappies

Dioxins can be highly toxic to humans and wildlife, affecting our reproductive and immune systems. They can also cause developmental problems, interfere with hormones and be a potential trigger for some cancers.

Mercury used in disposable nappies

Another chemical in disposable nappies is mercury. Exposure to mercury can cause serious health problems, having toxic effects on the nervous, digestive, and immune systems. Not to mention the lungs, kidneys, eyes, and skin. This threatens our wildlife as well as ourselves. When disposable nappies end up in the environment, mercury can find its way into our water supplies. This is how it can be consumed by our animals and selves and threaten our health.

Chlorine chemicals in disposable nappies

Another chemical in disposable nappies that is bad for your child is chlorine. Chlorine can increase your child’s risk of developing allergies or asthma. While chlorine itself doesn’t cause a lot of harm to the environment, the mix of chlorine with other chemicals makes disposable nappies bad for the environment. It plays a part in creating more dioxins that can take up to 15 years to degrade to half their concentration.

Disposable nappies take up a lot of landfill space

In addition to creating chemical and toxic waste, disposable nappies take up a lot of landfill space. It has been estimated that 800 million nappies per year end up in Australian landfills contributing to our major garbage problems. The time it takes for one disposable nappy to be able to decompose in landfill can be anywhere up to 500 years. For only one nappy! Now think of the 800 million nappies that are going to take half a century each to decompose. That’s a lot of land space needed to dump them.

A landfill is handy for other general waste that you can chuck in a hired skip bin. But it isn’t great when it comes to disposable products.

In landfills, disposable nappies end up in piles and can be buried under other rubbish. This extends their lifespan as well because they are protected from aspects of the environment that would break them down. This also incubates them resulting in more harmful gas being released into our environment from disposable nappies.

Disposable nappies release harmful gas into the environment

Rotting rubbish in landfill and the ground, including disposable nappies, generate high levels of methane gas and CO2. These are both greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and climate change.

Greenhouse gases absorb heat from the sun which causes the temperature of the surrounding atmosphere to increase. Carbon released from disposable nappies has the same impact. But this environmental impact also starts with the production of disposable nappies. Factories are still using fossil fuels, a non-renewable energy source, to make disposable nappies. This kind of energy source also increases carbon emissions.

Ultimately these gases contribute to the rise in sea levels, extreme weather changes and events, and destruction of natural habitats. So, while disposable nappies are convenient at the time, they can be contributing to air pollution and extreme, threatening weather conditions.

The good news is that there are better options that you can use instead of disposable nappies!

Cloth nappies are better than disposable nappies for the environment

Reusable cloth nappies are better for the environment than disposable nappies. They will save you money in the long run and reduce the waste leaving your home! This means you are contributing to less toxic waste ending up in landfills and fewer chemicals being released into the environment.

Cloth nappies are better for the environment than disposable nappies

The waste that is washed out of the reusable nappy will go to a waste treatment plant. There it can be filtered and cleaned so that it won’t be harmful to the environment when released. Plus, you can find all different styles of cloth nappies that make them much more appealing compared to disposable nappies. And, just like disposable nappies, you can find them at most local supermarkets.

It’s recommended to have at least 20-25 nappies. Washing reusable nappies on an energy-efficient setting or by hand, then hanging them out to dry, can further reduce the environmental impact of nappies.

Eco-friendly disposable nappies are a good alternative to disposable nappies

Eco-friendly disposable diapers are another great alternative for parents who need a little bit more flexibility with their baby care routine. These typically contain less harmful chemicals than traditional disposable diapers and they biodegrade much sooner. Look for brands that are certified organic or made with renewable resources!

Looking to make more of a conscious effort for our environment? We have the 4 best ways to recycle your garden waste and the way to use trees to save water in your garden! We can also tell you about the pollution caused by face masksCapital Hire offers general and green waste skip bins for hire to help you properly dispose of your home waste.