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Zero Waste Western Isles

Real Nappies

Real Nappies

Modern real nappies are very different from the cloth nappies and plastic pants of old. They are available in a wide variety of colours, patterns and sizes to suit every child from birth to potty and are self-fastening. Modern washing machines wash so well that real nappies do not need to be pre-soaked or boiled.

Zero Waste Western Isles promote the use of real nappies in an effort to reduce the amount of disposable nappies going to landfill. At the moment about eight million disposable nappies are thrown away every day in the UK. Each baby uses at least 50 black bags of disposable nappies in their first year. Times the 200-300 babies born each year in the Western Isles that would equate to at least 10,000 – 15,000 bags each year and that only for new babies! Modern technology and designs means that as well as cutting down on our waste, re-usable nappies can be washed and dried in a way that reduces their environmental impact even further .

Why use real nappies?


  • By the time your baby is potty trained you could use 4,000 to 6,000 disposable nappies. This will cost a minimum of £488 and maybe as much as £732. By comparison you only need from 25-30 real nappies costing as little as £185 including the washing!
  • Washing at home costs less than £1/week
  • Using the same nappies on your second or third child saves you even more than on the first!


  • Prolonged skin contact with soiled nappies causes nappy rash. It is germs, not moisture, that cause nappy rash. Therefore whatever nappy you use, it still needs to be changed regularly.


  • By choosing real nappies, you could reduce your household rubbish by half. This will help towards a big reduction in the number of disposable nappies buried in landfill sites.
  • Disposable nappies make up about 2.6% of the average household rubbish in a year. This is equivalent to the weight of nearly 70,000 double-decker buses. If lined up from front to end, the buses would stretch from London to Edinburgh.
  • Using real nappies reduces the amount of waste sent for incineration and also the amount of energy and non-renewable resources used to produce disposables.


Waste Aware Recycle Reuse Waste Aware Western Isles