Choosing real nappies is one of the single biggest things you as a family can do to cut down the amount of non-recyclable waste you produce.
Why choose reusable nappies?
A baby will use around 5,000 disposable nappies by the time they are potty-trained, a colossal amount of waste.
In comparison, just 20 cloth nappies could see you through the whole time, and probably last for the next baby as well! Around half the residual waste (black bin waste) a family with a baby produces, is nappies.
Switching to reusable nappies is much kinder to the environment. In addition to removing a mountain of waste, they produce far fewer greenhouse gases in their production and use far less water – even with the washing!
Around twice as much water is used to produce the required number of disposable nappies than will ever be used in the production and washing of reusable nappies.
In addition to all of the environmental benefits, you can save hundreds of pounds. You can set up a stash of reusable nappies for around £100 (less if you buy second-hand) whereas disposables will cost you roughly £500 to £1500 for the first 2½ years, depending on brand.
Worcestershire County Council offers parents £30 towards the cost of reusable nappies, either in the form of a voucher which you can redeem against trial packs from TotsBots, Bambino Mio and Close Parent or as a Love2Shop voucher if you have already purchased your nappies (terms & conditions apply. See Applying for cashback page).
Are reusable nappies REALLY better for the planet?
The short answer – YES
- They have a far lower carbon footprint – up to 40% less than disposables.
- Using reusables you will produce far less waste – you can save 99% of the waste produced by disposable nappies. You could eliminate 900kg of waste over 2 years.
- They will use much less water – producing the 5000 disposables a baby will use between birth and potty training will use more than twice the amount of water as reusables, even when you take into account all the washing.
- Reusable nappies take far fewer resources to produce – producing 4000 disposables will use 1500 litres of crude oil.
- Modern cloth nappies frequently use recycled plastics and bamboo cloth, which is far less water-intensive to farm than cotton. They do not require soaking or boil washing, just a standard 40-degree cycle. They have been designed to dry quickly on an airer or clothesline.
But aren’t biodegradable disposables an easy eco-friendly option?
The short answer – NO
- ‘Biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’ nappies really aren’t – not with current UK facilities at least. None of them is 100% biodegradable material (the average is around 60%), and they require an industrial hot composting system to break down.
- They must not be placed in recycling or garden waste bins, as they would contaminate these waste streams.
- A garden compost heap will not reach the required temperature to make their disposal safe and hygienic even if there were space for the ~5000 dirty nappies that will be produced by the time a baby is toilet trained.
- They are manufactured with fewer chemicals than most disposables, but they still contribute to the mountain of residual waste that must be collected and disposed of every fortnight.
Nappy bundle packs
Worcestershire County Council works with three suppliers to offer the following discount packs. The packs are 'birth to potty' (0 - 2.5 years). For just £20 plus your £30 voucher, you can choose to receive one of the discount packs which would normally retail at £80 - £100. (Please note: there is an additional £3.95 shipping charge for Close Parent packs).
Please apply for your voucher before contacting either of these suppliers:
This special offer nappy pack from TotsBots includes:
- 3 x Print EasyFits (all in one)
- 1 x Bamboozle Stretch 2 part system (night nappy)
- 1 x Bamboozle Pad 2 part system (day nappy)
- 1 x Bamboozle Wrap to cover Stretch or Pad
- 10 x fleece liners
- waterproof bag
- includes carriage
(Nappies will normally be prints but occasionally plain colours may be substituted).
for your £30 voucher using the Online application reusable nappy cashback scheme form. Put on the form that you want your voucher sent direct to TotsBots. When it has been processed an electronic copy will be sent to them, and they will ring you to ask you to make your payment of £20. They will then dispatch your nappies within 5 days.
Or, if you already have your discount voucher, please post your voucher to:
M8 Business Complex
259 Summerlee Street
Glasgow G33 4DB
Make sure you provide your delivery address and contact number. Once they receive your voucher, TotsBots will ring you to make your payment of £20 and will dispatch your nappies once this has gone through. If you have any queries, please contact TotsBots.
This special offer pack from Close Parent includes:
- 5 x pop in nappies in bamboo
- 2 night-time boosters
- 1 small tote bag
- 1 roll of 80 liners
- 10 washable baby wipes
Apply for your £30 voucher using the Online application reusable nappy cashback scheme form. Put on the form that you want your voucher sent direct to Close Parent. When it has been processed, voucher details will be sent to them. Meanwhile, you need to place your order and make your payment of £20 + £3.95 shipping fee on the Close Parent Website - go to the Close Parent order page (Note: you will not be required to enter your voucher code number). They will then dispatch your nappies when the voucher details get through to them, usually within 7 days.
Or, if you already have your £30 discount voucher, and you do not wish to place your order on the website please contact Close Parent to order your pack. You will need to quote the 'Worcestershire Discount Pack' and give your specific voucher number. You can then arrange with Close Parent to make the £20 payment + £3.95 shipping fee to them. Then you will be required to post your voucher to the address they give you, to validate your application and Close Parent will dispatch your nappies once they receive it.
This special offer pack from Bambino Mio includes:
- 4 x miosolo all-in-one nappies
- 1 x miosoft two piece trial pack (size 1)
- 1 x wet nappy bag
- 3 x mioboost (nappy boosters)
- 1 x pack of 50 mioliners (biodegradable nappy liners)
Note: Fabric designs can be chosen when ordering the pack.
Apply for your £30 voucher using the Online application reusable nappy cashback scheme. Specify on the form that you want your voucher sent direct to Bambino Mio. Once this has been processed, your voucher along with your contact details, will be sent direct to Bambino Mio, who will then contact you. A payment of £20 will be taken to complete your purchase and at this point you will be able to specify choice of fabric designs if you wish. Once payment has gone through, your pack should be with you in 3-5 working days. You can also receive 15% off your first Bambino Mio purchase after this by signing up to their newsletter.
Try reusable nappies before you buy
If you wish to try reusable nappies before making up your mind, please contact Worcestershire Nappy Library who have kits they loan out for free containing all different types of nappies for you to decide which one suits you and your baby best.
There are other organisations/ companies that do this for a charge, but we would encourage Worcestershire residents to use a local service run solely by volunteers.
Questions and answers about disposable nappies
How many types of real nappies are there?
There are four main types:
- all in ones: These are great for easy changing and very helpful if other people, such as grandparents, babysitters or a nurse, will be caring for your child. The absorbent part of the nappy is attached to the waterproof part - much like a disposable nappy
- two-part nappies: Here the absorbent part of the nappy is used with a separate waterproof cover or 'wrap'
- pocket nappies: These can be very economical. The absorbent part is stuffed into a pocket within the nappy itself and is removed for washing
- flat Nappies: These are still popular although they can sometimes be a bit fiddly. A flat, square piece of cloth (a 'terry square') is used with a separate waterproof cover. Modern 'nappy nippas' (made of stretchy plastic) are used in place of the traditional nappy pins
What type of fastenings can I use?
Nappies come with either Velcro, Aplix or poppers. Others are designed for use with pins or 'nappy nippas'.
What type of materials are used?
Nappy fabrics include cotton terry-towelling or flannel, hemp, bamboo or microfibre. Waterproof fabrics include PUL (polyurethane), wool and polyester fleece.
Which type of nappy do I need?
Most modern washable nappies are size-adjustable and will fit babies from around 9lbs up to toddler size. These are known as 'birth to potty' nappies. You would only need to buy one set of nappies to see your baby through to potty training and could use the same nappies on a toddler and a new baby sibling.
Some nappies tend to come in several sizes - S, M, L & XL or size 1,2 & 3 for example. A few companies also make newborn size nappies. Whilst you may find a better choice of fit with a 'sized nappy' you will also need to remember that as your baby grows, you will have to buy larger nappies!
If you are unsure about what nappies, you need there is lots of advice online as well as from Worcestershire Nappy Library who offer a “try before you buy” service consisting of kits of various different types of nappies to work out what works best for you and your baby.
What are my choices for a newborn?
It can take a few weeks for babies to grow into 'birth to potty' nappies, and there are some options for that in-between stage:
Newborn size nappies are available and are a good investment if your baby is very tiny and is likely to take a while to reach 9lbs. These are available to hire from nappy libraries or online, if you do not want to buy them.
Muslin squares (yes, like the ones you use for mopping up!) are excellent nappies for newborns and must be used with a waterproof cover. The covers are available online at a range of prices and can be inexpensive.
How many nappies will I need?
First you need to decide how often you intend to wash.
If you put other items in the machine with the nappies, washing every day works well. If you intend air drying, then you will need extra nappies whilst they are drying. If you have limited space for drying, you might want to consider nappies made of synthetic fabric, that dry in a few hours.
We estimate that 15-20 nappies should allow you to wash every other day and still be able to maintain a routine that does not see you running out of clean nappies.
In the early days you may find that a wash load at the end of each day is needed but if you can put the nappies in the machine to rinse and spin, then add other laundry for a full wash, you are more than likely to find that you have enough nappies.
If you are using bamboo or hemp, you may need a few additional boosters/inserts to allow for the extra time these nappies take to dry.
Wraps, liners and washable wipes
Most wraps are made of polyester or nylon (some are cotton) and they are laminated on the inside with PUL (polyurethane), which makes them waterproof. Known as PUL wraps, these make good general-purpose wraps - lightweight, breathable, easy to wipe clean and dry quickly.
Polyester fleece and wool are ideal for use at night-time as an alternative to PUL wraps. Fleece dries very quickly, but you need to wash after every wear. Wool is thicker so it takes slightly longer to dry, but there is no need to wash every wear due to its natural antibacterial properties.
Disposable nappy liners are usually made of soft paper or some sort of vegetable material and are good for picking up solids to flush away and can be washed a few times and re-used if just wet.
Fleece liners keep your baby's skin very dry. Moisture is drawn through the liner onto the nappy behind, leaving baby's bottom dry. They are washable and last for years.
You are washing your nappies, so why not wash your wipes too? Most disposable wipes found on the high street are handy (we have to be honest, here!) but they are packed with chemicals, they fill up landfill sites and drains and they are expensive!
Washable wipes are a great alternative. They are available commercially or you can make your own. Essentially, they are rectangles of cloth, used for clean-up at nappy changes (and for a myriad of other purposes!) and they go in the wash, along with the nappies.
Some parents prefer to carry their washable wipes ready soaked, in which case a small plastic container with a lid is perfect. Others wet the wipes as they go from a tap or a water bottle.
Washable wipes are also a great alternative to cotton wool and can be used with plain water or with a cleaning solution, either home-made or purchased.
How do I wash and dry reusable nappies?
- the idea of extra laundry can be daunting for parents new to washable nappies. However, you can easily make your nappies part of your regular routine. If you are using washables full time you are likely to have one extra wash load every other day
- modern cloth nappies should not be soaked, as this can damage the elastic and waterproof elements of the nappy. Instead, they can be kept in an empty bucket with a lid, or a bag, until ready to wash
- most modern nappies can be washed between 40-60 degrees, in your washing machine, with ordinary supermarket washing powder. Manufacturers prefer you to use non-bio powder. There is no need to add anything extra to your wash
- fabric softeners should not be used with cloth nappies, as they compromise the absorbency of the nappy
- if you have some nappies ready to wash, and you are also going to be doing other laundry, you can double up. Pop your nappies in the machine for a rinse and spin, then add extra laundry to make a full load, and wash. This means you should never run out of nappies, as long as there is laundry to be done!
- nappies can be saved and washed all together, in which case be sure not to overfill your machine, so that proper agitation can be achieved during the wash cycle.
- many nappies are happy being tumble dried on a cool setting – check manufacturers’ instructions. Nappies do love to hang outside in the sunshine though, and it’s great for removing any stains or marks.
Finally…a word about poo
Parents are often concerned about poo in their washing machine. Fear not! Before introducing solids, baby poo is water soluble and will wash out perfectly well on an ordinary cycle. After weaning, solid poo is flushed away or thrown away with disposable liners before the nappies are laundered, so poo should not find its way into your machine.
Please note that liquids, eco balls, and soap nuts are less effective at washing nappies.
Apply for nappy vouchers
How to claim real your nappy voucher
To be eligible for the voucher you must:
- live within the county of Worcestershire
- only make one application per household/family (unless you have twins)
- have a baby under 24 months old or be expecting
- Love2Shop vouchers will only be issued on production of a receipt or online confirmation which has been issued in the past 6 months.
- you also need to be willing to be contacted a few months after you start using your nappies to help us evaluate the effectiveness of the incentive scheme.
There are two ways you can use your real nappy voucher:
- apply for your voucher online or by post, then use it to order a nappy bundle or
- buy your nappies and claim your £30 back in the form of a Love2Shop voucher
To apply for your nappy voucher online
Go to: Online application reusable nappy cashback scheme. You will need to attach a copy of your MAT B1 or baby's birth certificate. Please allow up to 28 days for delivery.
To apply for your nappy voucher via post
Please send a copy of your MAT B1 or baby's birth certificate along with submitting this cashback form to:
Waste Prevention Team
Worcestershire County Council