Focus: Campaign of the week - Nappy week to ditch disposables

Indira Das-Gupta,

Real Nappy Week, which is intended to encourage mums to ditch environmentally damaging disposables for traditional cloth nappies, celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. From humble beginnings as an idea hatched by a small group of mums around a kitchen table, the week has blossomed into an international event backed by more than 850 organisations.

The week, which takes place from 24 to 30 April, also has the backing of more than 90 per cent of local authorities. It is being funded by the government's Waste and Resources Action Programme. The main purpose of the week is to raise awareness of the environmental impact of disposable nappies and inform women about the alternatives. It will consist of a regional media campaign run by the network and a national campaign managed by Wrap.

Liz Sutton, communications co-ordinator for the network, explains: "There are a lot of myths about real nappies. You don't need to mess around with safety pins any more - they come with poppers and Velcro. There are also local nappy laundry services that provide you with clean nappies for between £6 and £11 a week."

The week will include real nappy fashion shows to showcase some of the designs that are now available.

"You can get them in leopard-skin print, organic cotton, hemp and even bamboo," says Sutton.

A baby's nappy is changed six times a day on average, which costs around £7.10 a week if they buy disposables. This mounts up to around £927 over two and half years, the usual amount of time a child spends in nappies.

The network estimates that parents can get enough real nappies to last the same period at a cost of just £50, and that an overall saving of about £500 can be made.

"But the real saving is to the environment," adds Sutton. "Nearly eight million nappies are thrown away in the UK every day. We don't know exactly how long disposable nappies take to decompose, but they contain plastics that can take hundreds of years to do so."

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