Project: Nappy Science Gang
As any parent knows, a baby can go through a lot of diapers, also known as nappies. Indeed, according to Mother Jones magazine, a typical baby goes through 3,800 “disposable” diapers in her first 2.5 years. And the word disposable is a bit of a misnomer: diapers hang around in landfills for decades after use.
Reusable cloth diapers are often touted as a better option, but there is some debate about whether they’re truly better because of the energy required to wash them, and the waste water that washing them produces. The Nappy Science Gang was formed to start examining questions around reusable nappy use.
A project started by Sophia Collins, a public engagement specialist, the Nappy Science Gang not only aims to collect data, but demonstrate how science is done from start to finish.
“[Citizen science] projects are great, as far as they go, but it’s still scientists in the driving seat and members of the public are just helping them achieve their goals. Nappy Science Gang goes a step further. Volunteers come up with the questions they want to answer, they work out how they might answer those questions and design their own experiments. And then they do the experiments.”
At the moment, participants are looking at three questions, according to the blog:
- What’s the best thing to wash cloth nappies with?
- Is ‘strip-washing’ cloth nappies necessary? If so, what is the best method?
- What is the optimum temperature at which to wash cloth nappies?
Experiment protocols have been designed for these questions, and tests are underway. If you’d like to participate, check out https://nappysciencegang.wordpress.com/join-the-gang/, or just follow the blog. In particular, check out this post, about how citizen science helped to change an official government recommendation.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons