'We had no choice': Pacific nation the first to ban disposable nappies

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"It is visible, we are living it. It is affecting our food supply and our fish populations"
"It is visible, we are living it. It is affecting our food supply and our fish populations"

Lonely Planet describes the developing nation of Vanuata as an "80-plus island archipelago" characterised by "deserted beaches, ancient culture, remote and rugged islands and world-class diving", yet locals are facing an ecological emergency, with rising sea levels and marine pollution. 

"It is visible, we are living it. It is affecting our food supply and our fish populations," Mike Masauvakalo, the nation's Minister of Foreign Affairs said recently. 

In response, the nation has implemented one of the strictest plastic bans in the world, and included on its list of banned products is the disposable nappy. 

"Eventually, plastics find their way into the water and the food chain and at the end of the day, the people of Vanuatu end up consuming [them]," Masauvakalo said. "Vanuatu is safeguarding its future."

Disposable nappies can take hundreds of years to degrade, and since Vanuatu does not have a lot of land and so nowhere to create large dumps, they have to take extreme steps. 


Also read: What SA parents could expect if we banned disposable nappies

The ban, which is proposed to take effect near the end of 2019, has caused uproar among parents. "There was a lot of uproar from the community and women’s groups about the ban," Masauvakalo revealed. They worry that such a ban set women "back decades". 

He said the government is looking for a replacement for the disposable nappy, but it does pose a challenge, and they're currently considering cotton alternatives.

South Africa has a thriving cloth nappy community, so they're welcome to ask us for tips and advice!

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