Have the powers-that-be consigned the campaign for reusable nappies to the landfill site in the sky? That's the charge levelled at the government-funded Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap), after it was confirmed by outgoing environment minister Ben Bradshaw that the Real Nappy Campaign will no longer receive Wrap funding. The decision follows an Environment Agency report in 2005 which claimed that reusable nappies are just as bad for the environment as disposable ones. Real nappies have always had their critics, of course. When you consider the energy that goes into producing cloth nappies, plus all those hot washes in machines, it's not always so clear that they are kinder to the environment. But while it is true that real nappies are not perfect, the 2005 report was not entirely convincing. For example, the researchers assumed 47.5 washable nappies per baby. I had two of my babies in nappies and I doubt we ever had more than 25 of the things in the house. And who would be boiling them on a 90C wash when a 60C one would do perfectly well, or tumble-drying them, or even - and this was yet another assumption made in the report - ironing them? Rachel Eburne, interim director of the Women's Environmental Network, is despairing about the government's waning enthusiasm for cloth nappies. "The message we're getting is that there are other priorities - this year's Real Nappy Week got only a 10th of the funding it got last year," she says. The biggest problem - given that disposable nappies have had the lion's share of the market for decades - is changing hearts and minds. Reusables (especially old-fashioned terry nappies) have had a very bad press - and that's no doubt how disposable nappy manufacturers would like things to stay. But the new generation of reusable nappies are very different from what went before. White terry nappies and safety pins are history: today's reusables are funky, brightly-coloured, Velcro-fastening, bottom-hugging pants that look gorgeous, work well and do not clog up landfill sites.


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