Did you know, if each baby in the UK used a potty just once a week, in three years we would save 14,000 tonnes of nappy waste going to landfill? For reference, this weighs a little more than the Eiffel Tower! Are we obliged to try? I think so.
“I wish I’d known about that when mine were younger” is a comment I hear often. I also hear people say they don’t have time to help their babies use a potty, and how it’s not necessary. In particular, the soundbite “why worry/bother, they’re not babies for long” is wheeled out as some sort of get-out-of-jail-free-card to ward off any potential obligations. Are we obliged? I think so.
The bigger picture
It’s so easy for parents to take things personally, to ‘get offended’ (see below on how to deal with that if this is someone you know), but we are so massively privileged in so many ways, we are ruining the planet with lazy wastefulness. And yes, before the whataboutery starts. there are plenty of big corporations doing damage to the planet on a catastrophic scale that needs to change, but I am going to stay in my lane and focus on what I know will make a huge difference. I am going to pick on the reckless use of disposable nappies as a household staple for on average 3-4 years for most babies in a developed country. These staples are environmental atrocities. Each single nappy used for hours creates 500+ years of toxic landfill waste.
What legacy are we leaving our children? What right do we have now that we know this?
nappies are a luxury we can no longer afford
Historically, babies used a potty much sooner than nowadays mainstream parents did. And in the majority world, nappies remain a luxury. In contrast to the science on climate change, there is literally no scientific evidence against baby pottying. In fact, the evidence is overwhelmingly in its favour.
GO POTTY ONCE A WEEK
Let’s look at the maths. Let’s say the average parent is done using nappies by the time their child is 3, by pottying your baby just once per week from birth, each baby would save 106 nappies in 3 years. In the UK, with 680,000 babies born each year, that saves 72080000 nappies (72 million) in 3 years. 72 million nappies weigh at 195g each = 14 billion grammes of nappies which = 14,000 tonnes of nappy waste. For reference, 14,000 tonnes of nappy waste weighs around the same as 1.38 Eiffel Towers. When we know that a single nappy takes 500 years to decompose, we know it will take billions of years for these nappies to disappear completely whilst buried in a landfill.
what’s your excuse?
- If you have already done with nappies, pass on the message. Ignorance cannot remain an excuse any longer.
- If you still use nappies, start using a potty as well at least once a week.
- Potty train as soon as possible, ideally between 18-24 months. This will half the environmental impact of nappies instantly.
- Use cloth nappies wherever possible.
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