Reduce Diaper / Nappy Volume, Reduce Landfill. Squeemish Beware.





Introduction: Reduce Diaper / Nappy Volume, Reduce Landfill. Squeemish Beware.

Here's some things you can do to drastically skinny that nappy before disposing of it.

But first let's think on this......

If you've got babies then use washable diapers / nappies. If you can't handle washing them yourself then sign up to a nappy wash service.
In the UK you could be saving around �500 a year if you switch to re-usables ( source1 )

3 billion nappies / diapers end up in UK landfill per year.

49 million diapers / nappies used in the US per day! ( )source2

Disposable diapers / nappies have a decomposition rate of 550 years ( source3)

So read on for a green way to reduce the volume of a diaper, if it's squeemish that your are, then go and look at the cake contest, actually have a look at my chocolate cake instructable and give it your vote ;) ......

Big thanks to Ropable for the image

Step 1: The Offending Article # 1. Pluggies Full-ups TM

No puritanical hoo-haar about not ever, ever,ever using disposables. If you've got bubs, then chances are you are going to use disposables at some time.
However, when you've got a diaper / nappy full of POO! ( there, I've said it ) flush that dump away before you wrap the diaper / nappy and bin it. Common sense - DON"T flush the whole thing, just the poo.

So let's have a talk about tweetle beatles. Um sorry parenthood seems to have addled my brain.

So lets have a closer look at a nappy / diaper, this one is full of pee.

The UK disposable nappy / diaper basically consists of celluslose 'fluff' from cotton pulp that, along with a super-absorbent material called SAP ( more on this later ) tries to hold the babies waste away from the skin. Polypropylene mesh holds this absorbent pad inside and to a greater or lesser extent also wicks fluid away from the babies skin. Elasticated barriers hold the nappy to the contours of the baby along with the stretch elastic waist tabs ( more on these in another instructable ). A high density polyethylene sheet stops the whole slop gushing out, in cheaper diapers this is evident, on the more expensive brands it's covered with yet another layer of polypropylene mesh. Apply cute graphics liberally and there you have an Eco time bomb just waiting to be 'primed'.

Step 2: What's Inside?

Eek! Better keep this out of landfill and on the compost heap where we can put it to good use.

Step 3: Disgorge That Diaper / Nappy

It's in the compost caddy and ready to serve as an excellent accelerator for the decomposition of garden and kitchen waste on the compost heap. This is due urea compounds - high in nitrogen found in pee, but there's an extra bonus, remember the SAP polymer I was talking about? It's good old super-absorbent sodium acrylate, used in garden centres as water gel in plant pots, as a fire retardant, soil erosion reducer. In short it's too good to bury in landfill.

Step 4: Before and After....

Estimating the weight of a morning diaper full of pee at 1 pound. The disgorged nappy weighs in at under two ounces. The volume reduction speaks for itself.

Step 5: Lastly

To conclude, please try to go over to a re-usable nappy system, they pay for themselves financially and environmentally. For the occasions that you do use disposables remember to reduce reuse recycle.

A viewpoint on the UK Environment Agencies amateur-ish life cycle analysis can be found here

Further reading on disposables and waste management can be found here .

Further reading on pee can be found here .



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    Not a child-owner (believe me, I'm as broody as the broodiest woman you ever met - I just can't find a member of womankind who wants to spawn with me), but one issue with the cloth / washable nappies is the additional detergents used to clean them. And the electricity if you're using a washing machine. Not bringing your belief in them down - I just have a habit of being devil's advocate and pointing out the flaws in both sides!

    I hand wash all of my reusable diapers in a biodegradable soap and hang dry them. There is no way of saying that adding to the landfill is lesser then the electricity used, but even with some of the greener alternatives in electricity and energy saving appliances, there are better ways.


    See my above note... i remember my ex-boss having done some math (he was good at that sort of thing, i'm not, really) about the number of disposables his small diaper service had kept out of landfills, and though i don't remember the number, i remember it was staggeringly large. He was the sort of person who was inclined toward understatement. And it can be done with non-chlorine bleaching. (although they don't get quite as sparklingly white). Devil's advocacy is a good thing, thanks. Best of luck spawning.

    I still tend to vote greener for things that don't sit in landfills vs. things that use more energy. Of course people could use alt energy/ electric free washers. And hopefully anyone using cloth diapers is using a biodegradeable detergent! Add a grey water system and it has to be better.

    For the really really dedicated.

    *I just can't find a member of womankind who wants to spawn with me* Yeah, tell me about it I had to resort to parthenogenesis. Seriously though, hang in there fella. Cheers for the demonic advocation, you'll not bring my belief in them down ( there's no zealot like a cloth nappy zealot :-) I believe they are green, greener, greeniest ( Bah, the spell checker wouldn't let me have that last one )

    Great post! We have a neighbor who has built a machine (out of recycled parts) that does just as you show here. It removes all the insides from the outer plastic liner. Everyone in our neighborhood who uses disposable diapers, and there are a lot, saves the diapers for him and he puts them through this machine. Not only does he compost the insides but, the plastic outside liners are sent to a plastic recycling facility so nothing goes to landfill! I just went along for his bi-weekly collection and was amazed to see just how many diapers get used in our neighborhood alone! We collected nearly one ton in under 3 hours that would have all gone to landfill if it were not for this great invention and the ability to reuse this very high quality SAP for composting and plastic for recycling! Thanx for this instructable, it is very good advice that works great!

    I've been trying to convince my wife that this is a good thing for years. It seems the white material in the garden cries out for explanations and the obvious discussion, drawing attention away from the beauty of the flowers. A cheap dye might be in order. Any Ideas? Is there a standard mix between clippings, kitchen waste, and nappies?


    Used to work at a diaper service (don't know what that's called on your side of the pond, but you get the idea) - i was the glorious diaper washer (upwards of 400 per day, in the BIG industrial washer) and it wasn't at all hard to get used to. Actually, i really liked my job, and free diapers once a week, when our little ones came along. (congrats on that, by the way). Anyway, apart from all that, the environmental issues, and so on, they're better for babies' bottoms! Hands down! Far fewer rashes, better comfort, earlier potty training, too, generally. Oh, and as an experienced - far too - cake eater, i can tell by the look of that one that it's never even been NEAR a diaper.

    Not using any of the ingredients from this instructable for the chocolate cake I hope...

    Bah! I've been rumbled.