Pants! (Or more specifically, nappies)
This post is a special one, although it may not interest those of you who don’t have small children, because nappies is where I feel my eco journey began.
I always felt guilty about the weekly sack of disposable nappies we got through when Toddler-monster was a baby. We tried biodegradeable brands but they were just not as effective and cost a fortune. Unfortunately, as new parents with everything to get our head round, cloth nappies just seemed to be too daunting. Looking back now I wish I’d been brave enough to try it.
It all started when I was expecting baby-monster and a work colleague gave me a re-usable all-in-one nappy as a baby shower present. I bought a few more of the same brand and resolved to give them a try. At the time I thought we’d only use them when safely at home, returning to disposables for all other complicated situations.
I have a wonderful friend who is a dedicated cloth bum enthusiuast and when she heard I was willing to give it a try she immediately loaned me a bag of her own stuff. It was full of different types, with inserts and wraps and liners and my first thought was “crikey it’s as complicated as I had feared!” I have to admit the bag sat in our dining room, untouched for the first three weeks of baby-monster’s life and Pampers reigned supreme.
And then I had a word with myself and had a go. We have not looked back since. Baby-monster now spends all day in cloth nappies (we use Big Softies by a company called Nature Babies and a few Bambino Mio). I’ll hold my hands up and admit we are still using a disposable for through the night, but we have reduced nappy waste from a black sack per week, to a carrier bag full per week. The financial saving is also a good one. We pickled up our cloth nappies second hand on ebay for £70 posted. With Toddler-monster we had been spending £20 a month on nappies (supermarket nappies are cheaper than this I know). Buying cloth for your first child and reusing for siblings is greener and more economic again. Another massive advantage of cloth nappies is they soak up much more efficiently. Baby-monster rarely ever explodes out of her nappy all over her clothes.
One of the big aspects of cloth nappies is conquering the washing. Baby-monster is still only 5 months so we’re still at the yellow yoghurt stage of poo, which really isn’t that scary. I had to actually learn how to use my washing machine as getting the stains out does require a high rinse with a pre-wash. Getting into a routine with washing took a while; however I invested in a bigger nappy bin and now do a dedicated nappy wash every 3-4 days. This means my other washes can be on a regular setting thus saving water and electricity. I also try and save washing times for when the solar panels are running the house.
Top Tips if you want to try cloth nappies
As with many things in life, different cloth nappies suit different babies. It is well worth hiring a trial pack from a nappy library. My local library is Cherubums. By doing this you can also get advice from someone who really knows what they’re doing as folding and fitting is a bit of an art. They can also guide you through the many different kinds and types.
As cloth nappies are a bit more bulky than disposables I like to make sure Baby-monster gets plenty of nappy free time on an evening.
If you decide to go for it it’s well worth search ebay for second hand batches of nappies. I picked up our stuff for £70 posted. Again, nappy libraries can advise on the best way to buy second hand for your local area.
Sunlight is awesome for fading stains so get cloth nappies out on the line!
Don’t stop at nappies! Re-usable wipes are also awesome; in fact they’re easier than the nappies so try them even if you decide the nappies aren’t for you. They’re just flannels; you only need to use one per change because they’re so much more absorbant and they’re not packed with nasty chemicals. I use Nature Babies wipes and Close Parent re-usable breast pads purchased from Grow Up Green.
I do encourage new parents to be brave and give it a try. It has been much easier than I had anticipated and I wish we had done it first time round. My next steps are to investigate green washing powders.