(First published on The Contented Calf website on 23rd January 2013.)
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been aware of the environment, all things ‘Green’ and wanting to do my bit. One of my favourite childhood activities was taking the boxes of glass bottles to the bottle bank with my mum, throwing them in and hearing them smash – brilliant! When I was at school I was a fully fledged member of ‘Earth Action’. Our activity was painting cardboard boxes green and distributing them throughout the school to collect waste paper.
And now I’m a mum, I’m also keen to do what I can – for now it’s centred on nappies to be honest. But even if I only do something small, it’s better than nothing right? Yes it takes a bit more work (mainly washing), but not that much more (ssshh…. ignore my constant whinging about washing). Actually, I think just the act of having a child generates an endless supply of washing, reusable nappies or not.
So let me share with you my 3 Simple Steps to a Greener Bottom.
Step 1. Reusable Nappies
As they are a big initial outlay, I needed to make sure they fitted 3YO (at the time a baby). I bought a trial pack with multiple brands of nappies in it.
2019 edit - sadly the online shop is no-longer running. Having had a quick google, this is the most similar to what I bought in 2009, something with multiple brands of nappies in - and therefore shapes of nappies. I think one of the key things to getting reusable / washable nappies to work for you are getting ones that fit your baby's body, and so don't leak. Trial kit: http://www.fill-your-pants.com/cloth-nappy-trial/nappy-trial.html.
Our council at the time was doing a £50 refund on any reusable nappies bought, so I was able to cover the trial kit costs with that.
After trying out various brands, we settled on Bum Genius. She was a tiny wee thing when she was born, so unless I wanted to buy newborn nappies and buy more sizes as she grew (I didn’t), I had to wait until she was about 3MO to start using them. This is the current version of what I bought – https://www.bumgenius.com/products/bumgenius-original-one-size-cloth-diaper-5-0.
I love everything about them – the colours, the poppers that make them expandable, the inserts (we were able to use two thick ones and one thin one to see her through the night, right up until she was almost two, with no leaks), they dry quickly. They’re brilliant. Every time I use one, I’m not putting a disposable one in landfill. And now our second baby is here, out they’ve come again – and this time, not a single penny spent.
We always have used Nature Babycare nappies as back-ups – https://www.naty.com/uk/shop. But second time round, they are also our change bag staple. And instead of sending 9MO in with a bag of fresh clean cloth nappies, I buy them for nursery to use when she’s there.
I know I’m no eco-saint.
I’ve happily used and bought pampers, huggies, boots, you name it, disposable nappies. I will do again. As well as the fact that apparently they are 90+% biodegradable anyway, in the words of my friend Leonard’s father: “sometimes you’ve just got to know when to take a cab” (https://thecontentedcompany.com/blogs/news/tbt-one-from-the-archive-sometimes-you-just-have-to-know-when-to-take-a-cab). I’m not going to beat myself up, especially when I’ve now got two kids to run around after.
Step 2. Cheeky Wipes
Even though I used cloth nappies last time, I still felt uncomfortable about all the thousands of baby wipes we got (still get) through. So when I was at the Baby Show last year, I was very excited to stumble across the Cheeky Wipes stand – www.cheekywipes.com. I love them! We have a set upstairs by the change table, and a set downstairs on the kitchen table for wiping hands and faces after eating. The ‘Mucky’ box comes with a drawer-string bag inside, so when it’s full, just whip that out and stick in the wash.
Step 3. Muslin Squares
When 3YO was a baby she occasionally really suffered from severe nappy rash. It would go from nothing to red raw in a matter of hours. We quickly learnt that the key to a happy bottom was totally dryness after a change. So cotton wool pads galore were a must.
However, I wasn’t happy about buying and throwing away so many. We all know about muslins – they are a new parent’s life-blood. But how many of you know about mini muslin squares?
(2019 edit - it seems that these are not sold either in Mothercare or anywhere else I can easily google... So maybe this is a gap in the market? I certainly loved mine. They were about 10cm * 10cm. Perhaps you can get a large muslin and cut one up? Until I stock them ;-))
With 9MO I bought a 50 pack from Mothercare, and use them instead. They are perfect. And I just stick them in the Cheeky Wipes mucky box after use.
As I said, I’m by no mean an eco-saint. And I’m certainly not an eco-martyr. If I was I’d never get any sleep as I’d always be washing, or planning ahead. But if I can make little changes, little by little our family can become a little bit greener.
Let’s start with those bottoms!
As always, with love from our family to yours,