We’d like to introduce you to Baby Jake and Baby Jemima. Because sometimes, statistics and quotes are useful. And sometimes, a bit of common sense goes a long way.
We’re often asked if the impact of reusable nappies and disposable nappies is really that significant, especially when you take into account ‘all that washing’. We have the facts that show the difference. But the truth is that Baby Jake and Baby Jemima can tell the story just as well as a pretty infographic.
Baby Jemima uses 5,000-6,000 nappies. Some for a few hours, some for a few minutes. (We’ve all been there.) Each of her nappies is made from plastic and wood pulp. Manufacturing the plastic means extracting oil from the ground and mixing it with an array of chemicals. Manufacturing wood pulp means cutting down tree after tree; and using vast amounts of water and chemicals to create the pulp. Both processes need a lot of energy and leave behind dirty pollutants including carcinogens and chlorine bleach.
When the raw materials have been transported to the factory and made into a nappy, each of the 5,000-6,000 nappies is packaged and transported to a warehouse or shop. It then makes another journey to reach Baby Jemima.
When Baby Jemima has - ahem - utilised a nappy, it is transported away from Baby Jemima. It may be burnt or added to a landfill site, where it will take anything from 450 years upwards to decompose.
When Baby Jemima’s family move house, the council transport her nappies to a recycling plant that has been built especially for the purpose. When that plant has separated out the few parts of the nappy worth saving, they are transported to another factory where yet more energy is used to turn them into a low grade plastic product that will almost certainly end up in landfill.
When Jemima is nearly three, she potty trains. Her brother is born, and the cycle is repeated.
Baby Jake uses 20 nappies. His nappies were made in a factory with high environmental standards - and because there are just 20 nappies, the impact of manufacturing and transportation is negligible.
Jake’s nappies are washed two or three times a week; using about 10% of the water needed to manufacture Jemima’s nappies and costing a few pence per load.
When Jake is nearly three, he potty trains. The nappies are stored until Baby Jake’s little sister is born.
When Jake’s sister potty trains, some of the nappies are sold; some are passed on to a friend; and the ones that are looking a bit shabby are used as cleaning cloths that last for the next ten years.
Thanks for taking the time to meet Baby Jake and Baby Jemima.