Want to live a little greener but not sure where to start? Well I was the same… I have started making small changes at home and when out shopping but this pregnancy I have been thinking a lot about how I can go green as a mama and nappies are the big thing I want to change for the next arrival.
DISPOSABLE vs REUSABLE
We were so keen to use reusable for our first babe but with so many ‘new’ things happening as a first time parent, we chose to use disposable nappies and then stuck with them to keep our lives a little more simple (not a good enough excuse really but that’s what we did). Having watched War on Plastic last week with the focus on wet wipes it really made me feel sick – I was so pleased I had already been using Cheeky Wipes – they really are more effective and in my view we should all be using them.
This time around we are determined to make the change and so I’ve been doing some research into the ‘facts and figures’ and ‘pros and cons’ which I hope you find useful and will perhaps allow you to make a more informed decision. I remember being totally bamboozled – it’s a big market!
Babies use, on average around 6 to 12 nappies a day in the first few months, and don’t potty train until at least 18 months old (although this does vary greatly), and sometimes not until they are even older.
Having looked into some costings and figures, reusable nappies do work out cheaper than disposable ones, especially if you use traditional terry nappies rather than the modern, fitted equivalent. You might have to pay more initially but the costs will be lower overall and even more so if you possibly plan to have another baby in the following years.
The Go Real nappy information service estimates that it costs around £80 (based on the cheapest brand of reusable nappies) to kit out your baby with a basic set of reusable nappies, and around £1 a week to wash them. So, even if you use a cheap brand of disposable nappies, you’d spend around £38 for just the first few months. This would really add up by the time your child moves to potty training and big boy/girl underwear.
What I have found out too now is that many councils also offer real-nappy incentives in the form of cash back, free samples or vouchers, giving you the opportunity to try a variety of reusable nappies and different brands for a discounted price or perhaps even free of charge. Here in Dorset I know that the council are offering a £30 voucher to spend on real nappies.
Disposable nappies can take 200-500 years to decompose and by the time a child is two, they could have used more than 5,000 nappies.
The most recent report published by the Environment Agency was in 2008. It found that reusable nappies can be 40% better for the environment than disposable nappies – but only when parents take sensible steps to reduce the environmental impact of cleaning and drying them.
CLOTH NAPPY USERS CAN REDUCE THEIR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS BY:
- Line drying outside whenever possible.
- Tumble drying as little as possible.
- When replacing appliances, choosing more energy efficient appliances (A+ rated machines are preferred).
- Not washing above 60°C.
- Washing fuller loads.
- Reusing nappies on other children.
BUYING REUSABLE/REAL NAPPIES
This was a minefield at first. I have spent weeks, maybe even months looking into brands, what sizes I might need, what accessories are essential or luxuries, what the best systems are, how people spend time washing them etc. So I feel now I am able to share what I have bought and will let you know how I get on in time once little one has arrived.
Here are my top tips:
- Take a questionnaire – My first piece of advice is to complete The Nappy Lady’s Advice Questionnaire. I found this a really useful way to gauge what I might need and once you have answered the questions she will send you 2 options of reusable nappies that might be suitable with different price points and brands.
- Shop around – some websites have offers and other smaller businesses may have different offerings as well as items that may have sold out.
- Starter packs might be a cost effective way to get going and then you can get used to what you need and order as you go.
- Check your local authority – Dorset offer £30 towards real nappies and many other counties are offering similar offers too.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself – Even if you just use one or two nappies a day you will still be saving a heap of nappies going into landfill! I know how overwhelming being a new parent is and how many new things are happening to baby and your body so its much better to do what you can than putting lots of extra pressure on yourself!
A couple of websites I have used:
The Nappy Lady – A great source with a large variety of stock and brands plus their great advice questionnaire.
Fill Your Pants – A really great customer service with a selection of brands and accessories and a free nappy guide is also available to order. On the phone to answer questions and lots of information on their website.
The Little Green Bee Co. – A local small business I used near me in Dorset with such great service.
LINERS – It is also worth thinking about liners as a way to catch poo and make disposing it easier. They are bio-degradable.
BOOSTERS – these are important for better absorbency at nights.
STORING DIRTY NAPPIES AND WIPES – I purchased 2 x large wet bags (one to use and one in the wash). These are a great alternative to nappy buckets as they can go straight into the wash, no smells, no toddlers taking off lids, and no extra plastic purchase. genius.
OUT AND ABOUT – it is also useful to think about how you want to work with your reusable nappies and wipes whilst out for the day. The wet bags are brilliant and there is such a variety on the market today with some being able to hold clean and wet nappies and smaller bags to house your reusable wipes. I purchased a mini bag to hold my wipes and a washable bag that can hold wet and dry nappies and double up for the dirty wipes too.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and whether you are using reusable nappies and which brands you have found to be the best.