Real (or reusable) nappies

As part of our waste reduction ethos the UP Project is promoting the use of reusable nappies. We have sets of reusable nappies which can be borrowed for a fortnight to try them out (see below). You can discover for yourself that using reusable nappies instead of disposable ones is not only good for the planet but also saves you money!

Also known as real nappies or cloth nappies, these are nappies that can be washed and used over and over again. They have a waterproof outer cover and absorbent inside and are usually used with a thin biodegradable liner. Some come all in one piece, others with removable insides.

Why use reusable nappies?


You save money.

Disposable nappies for one child will on average cost £10 a week or over £500 a year, or nearly £1300 for the two and a half years or so before a child is potty trained.
   For £300 (or less) you can buy a complete set of nappies that will see your child through the whole of the nappy-wearing period and, at the end of this, the nappies should still be fine to be used on another baby.  Modern nappies are cleverly designed so they can be adjusted to fit any size of baby.  You can of course buy more expensive reusable nappy sets (and even then you would be hard pressed to spend anywhere near what you would spend on disposables over the two and a half year period), but you can also buy second hand sets on ebay or via Mumsnet. And of course you can reuse your sets when the next baby comes along.

   It’s also cheaper for the local Council not to have to dispose of thousands of nappies in landfill each year. The average child uses some 4000 nappies resulting in about 1000 tonnes of waste being sent for disposal in Moray each year! Costs to councils like this are ultimately costs to ourselves.

It’s better for the planet!

Most of the materials disposable nappies are made of are not biodegradable – every disposable nappy that has ever been used since they became popular in the 1960s still exists in some landfill site somewhere, unless they ended up in waste to be incinerated, where we don’t know what long term effects the burning of the chemicals (plastics and moisture retaining gells etc.) in disposable nappies has on the environment.

Eight  million nappies are disposed of in the UK every day, adding up to 400,000 tonnes of waste going into UK landfill sites every year. During the two and a half years or so a child wears disposable nappies they will contribute nearly a tonne of waste (about 5000 nappies) to landfill.   Burying our waste in holes in the ground is not sustainable in the long term, and waste incineration has its environmental impact too, so by using reusable nappies we can significantly cut down on our waste and its impact on the planet. Reusable nappies can be washed at low (30-40 degrees) temperatures and dried on a clothes airer or outside on a washing line so the environmental impact of washing them is minimal.

Washing a reusable nappy uses up to five times less energy that producing a new disposable nappy.

Try out real nappies for free!

Earthtime can lend you a free trial real nappy kit for a fortnight which includes real nappies, nappy liners, a nappy bucket and wet-and-dry bag for taking nappies out and about – everything you need to give real nappies a go yourself and see how easy they are to use  and to save you money.

When coming to the Earthtime's Greener Moray Hub to borrow a kit we ask you to bring two forms of ID (one photographic and one with your home address on) and a £10 deposit refundable when you return the nappy kit after a couple of weeks. Please phone the Earthtime office (01343 200206) to check that a kit is available and arrange a time to pick it UP.

Real nappy myths

There is some great information debunking myths about reusable nappies at