Disposable diapers hanging at shop fronts is a common sight now but their overuse is becoming an environmental hazard as it takes 500 years for them to decompose in landfills. Sajad Ahmad Lone sets the alarm bells ringing
A diaper is now a popular consumer product. Due to its wide use and huge demand, it has reached every nook and corner of the world. Although diapers offer convenience, they also pose a serious threat to the environment and people alike. The diapers have several dangerous environmental drawbacks as they take more than 500 years to decompose. Before the invention of diaper, mothers had always managed fine. Before diapers, parents were using old cloth nappies for their babies. Mostly the mothers would use old woollen pieces of blankets. The idea was to hold to urine or faeces for a longer time. Moreover, the baby would feel warm and comfortable.
The product also made its entry in Kashmir where it is now being used less wisely and more widely. The beauty of Kashmir often referred to as “a paradise on earth”, may be ruined because of this product. This non-degradable product can damage Kashmir’s beauty if its use is not restricted from less to least.
Some people have never used this dangerous product. In the past too, people had alternatives. Did mothers not manage their children before this product was known to Kashmir? Did mothers not take their children along without diapers in the past?
An 82-year-old woman from north Kashmir said there was no need to buy old traditional cloth nappy from anywhere when they could tear pieces of cloth nappy from old clothes especially old blankets and other soft and woollen clothes.
She said once the baby pooped in the cloth nappy, they would wash it, dry it and use it again.
The present-day mother can forget to buy beauty products from the market, can forget mixing salt while preparing dishes but cannot forget buying a diaper for her children.
A young teacher from north Kashmir said it was risky using a traditional cloth diaper instead of diapers as it would become difficult to carry a kid in the lap as they could pee anytime.
So, according to her, diapers are the best solution for both the kids as well as parents.
She stressed that diapers leak less and do not allow the waste to spread, are light and compact to carry and lock wetness away from the babies’ skin.
According to her, the disposable diapers could be thrown away when dirty, meaning no extra washing.
The disposable diapers are hitting the market and catching the attention of buyers.
Every householder now keeps a specific budget for the usage of diapers and it is common now to see diapers hanging everywhere in the market, from a provisional store to a chemist, from a cosmetic shop to a druggist.
Noted Kashmiri dermatologist, Dr. Imran Majid said cloth nappies have had no bad effect on the skin of child but when the child is young, a lot of parents like using disposable diapers because for convenience.
However, this is not only expensive but also harmful to the environment.
Diapers have harmful chemicals and a child’s delicate skin can absorb some of these causing rashes and allergies.
So making sure one is using a good brand of disposable diaper is important.
Using disposable diapers 24×7 could also make it more difficult to potty train a child.
It might be a good idea to use diapers only at night for an uninterrupted sleep, or when going out, or if it is rainy or too cold, or if an older child is unwell and may wet the bed. Otherwise, disposable diapers pose a serious threat to the environment. The primary environmental impact of diapers is the waste. Most parents take the dirty diapers off and throw it out into the open. In cities, the diapers are buried inside a landfill where they will sit for approximately 500 years. There is no option for recycling. Thus the disposable diapers would destroy the environmental balance and health of the people alike.
Secretary State Pollution Control Board (PCB), M Shah said there was no restriction on the use and sale of disposable diapers.
He said diapers were not the only environment-harming substances as people in Kashmir were also using polythene and plastic, which were not eco-friendly.
However, he said PCB and municipal corporations were closely working together in the segregation and dumping of waste.
“Residential zones always remain our first priority because if this waste is not properly disposed of daily, it will create problems to health and environment,” he said. “Kashmir’s beauty is always our concern and PCB is serious about it.”
He said the government should work with partners to promote the source of separation and achieve a higher percentage of recycling and ensure provisions are made to handle the non-recyclable waste being generated.