By Penelope Collis, Halve Waste Education and Assessment Officer
When I fell pregnant and a friend suggested I use cloth nappies, to be honest, I felt a bit uncertain.
However, with a job in waste management, I felt it was important to ‘walk the talk’, so after a whirlwind 8 weeks, I started using cloth nappies. Not the old school terry towelling flats and pins type but modern cloth nappies that are shaped like a disposable and do up the same way with snaps or Velcro…and look really cute.
I did my research and found that not only could I minimise my contribution to the 5.6 million disposable nappies being used each day in Australia, but that these cloth nappies were going to save me thousands of dollars.
I was lucky, I was gifted some nappies and the others I bought second hand so all up, I would have spent around $200 for a full time use stash of nappies. If I had bought all the nappies from new, I would have only spent around $500. I also made my own reusable wipes from an old pair of flannelette pyjamas which work better than any disposable wipe I’ve used.
I found using both the nappies and the wipes far easier than I initially thought and was pleasantly surprised that they didn’t take too much time laundering, as there is no soaking involved.
After many conversations explaining what my daughter was wearing to puzzled friends and relatives, I realised that very few people know that modern cloth nappies exist and could be an option. Seeing a nappy on the internet isn’t helpful at all in trying to work out how to use them, so I wanted to develop a cloth nappy workshop where people could not only come, touch and feel different types of nappies and accessories but also have their questions answered.
For me, using cloth nappies is not an all or nothing journey. I have had to work out what suits our family best and at times, disposable nappies do feature at our house when our family all get sick or I go on holiday. However, even at these times, I know that even using one cloth nappy a day makes a difference to my family’s footprint.
Working with the cloth nappies also got me thinking about other products we buy and throw away at home. This new awareness has produced a flow on effect in reducing other waste at home like using washable cotton cloths for cleaning instead of disposable ones, using rechargeable batteries and actually remembering to take my reusable bags shopping. My next goal is to (shock horror) replace single use feminine hygiene products with a menstrual cup and reusable liners.