I have a gripe…and with that, a fantastic idea!

Nappies ~ get the stats:

  • 6000 nappies used per child before toilet training
  • Regular nappies take up to 500 years to compose
  • Nappies make up 3% of domestic waste or 5000 tonnes of waste per year
  • Australians alone use 800 million disposable nappies per year

I was always very impressed by my local Coles supermarket, which, until recently, stocked Nature Babycare biodegradable nappies. I love these, as they don’t leak, they are only $5 more than regular chemical soaked plastic nappies (which I think is a reasonable price to pay for a good conscience and the future of the planet), and:

  • 100% chlorine free
  • Based on biodegradable materials
  • Biodegradable back sheet film based on maize
  • 100% GM free

The very reliable (ah-hem) researchers at Huggie’s of course chip in and tell us that nappies only make up 1% of landfill, disposable and reusable nappies have similar environmental impacts, and Huggie’s are trying hard to reduce waste. My rebuttal to this is that 1% is still a lot of landfill, you need about 20 reusable nappies per child, can buy them second-hand, use them for subsequent children, then on-sell them compared with the 6000 disposable nappies used per child, and Huggie’s need to try harder and create an actual biodegradable disposable nappy other than using renewable fibres – whatever that means.

All my friends either use reusable or biodegradable nappies or none at all (I marvel at this). If ever I do have to buy a good old-fashioned Huggie’s nappy, I squirm with discomfort and guilt. ‘Yuk’, my gut, my soul and my heart say.

Up until recently, getting our Nature Baby nappies hasn’t been difficult. Then, one sad day, Coles in Alstonville forgot to restock their biodegradable nappies. It’s ok, I thought, at least I can still get them at Woolworths. This, though meant a trip to Lismore, and I am sure that drive somewhat adds something to my carbon footprint. But at least I could still get them. Then, one fine day…ba-boom. I drove all that way to Lismore, up the escalators to Lismore Square, into the very air-conditioned Woolworths, and they were out of stock! GODDAMNIT! I tried to order them, but postage is $17. Other brands are more expensive. And on these hot days, reusable nappies are very hot.

So…the solution I propose is to write to all my local people of government (MPs?) and Bob Brown and Julia Gillard and anyone else in a position of power to suggest that all supermarkets should be made to stock the eco version of every product, where it exists. So maybe not as many people  buy the biodegradable nappies as they do Huggie’s because of the price, but I know many people who do. And I think consumers should at least be given the choice. If buying an eco nappy is so goddamn hard in our hippy part of the world, then I shudder to think about  other places.

Consumers, I pledge you to stand up for your rights to buy ethical products and join me in writing your letters to local governmentarians (is that what you call them?) suggesting that retailers need to make the eco choice available. I am writing mine today.

What’s your gripe?