The most common raw materials in items for incontinence are cotton (in cloth nappies and sanitary towels), cellulose (disposable nappies and sanitary towels), rayon (tampons) and SAP (superabsorbent polymer, in disposable nappies and sanitary towels). Obtaining all these natural resources has a price for the planet. We should look for the options that seek to minimise this price.
Disposable nappies and sanitary towels turn into a huge volume of waste. This waste cannot be recycled because it is made up of different materials. Although research is going on into how to separate the plastic parts from the organic ones, at the moment only very expensive and not very effective methods exist. Its final destination is, therefore, landfill or an incinerator and that has some disadvantages. Of all the waste that cannot be recycled, nappies and sanitary towels form the largest fraction, which is why special attention is being paid to them in waste management. This enormous waste generation is one of the biggest factors driving us to use and promote the use of items that can be used more than once.
In any case, if we do use disposable items we can also pick up some habits to reduce the waste problem.
When we no longer need cloth nappies or sanitary towels, we should also minimise the waste problem.
If we use disposable items, either occasionally or always, we should look for the ones that seek to reduce environmental impact.
Publications: Alimarket, Mothering, The Ecologist, The Ethical Consumer;
Organisations: Best Foot Forward, Ecomaternal, Environmental Justice Foundation, Go Real, The National Association of Diaper Services, Greenpeace, Women Environmental Network.
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