Happy EWWR (European Week of Waste Reduction) everyone!
EWWR’s message is all about daily actions that make a big impact, and using reusable nappies is a daily action that has benefitted everyone in our little family! To celebrate this week, I would like to share our reusable nappy journey so far – I have not experienced this journey alone, I am joined by my partner Alex and, of course, our little boy Rawrie. The journey is not over yet – we have Rawrie’s sister joining us earthside at the beginning of January, so she’ll take up the reusable nappy banner once her big brother is fully toilet-trained. Apart from everything else that we’re going to talk about in this blog, the idea of passing our own personal stash of nappies from child to child is such a sweet thought, something you just don’t get with single-use nappies.
For quick context, Rawrie is now 20 months old and switches between using nappies and the grown-up toilet. His first every nappy was a reusable one, but he wasn’t in reusables full-time until he was at least six months. Ours is a very relatable journey – one of trial and error, taking it slowly, but reaping all the benefits the whole time!
So, when did you discover reusable nappies?
Jenny: when I was pregnant, I randomly typed ‘baby minimalist products’ into YouTube and discovered an American mum’s channel that promoted reusable nappies in the US. I instantly fell in love with the idea and started to investigate brands that were sold in the UK. I ended up attending a Real Nappies for London demo when I was one week overdue with Rawrie – it was a Give & Take hosted in Lambeth by Alice (I had no idea she would be my work colleague a year later!) and the lovely Eilidh from South London Nappies. It was great to hear first-hand experience from other parents, see a proper visual of the nappies (tried and fitted on a doll), and then to receive some lovely preloved nappies for free.
What happened when Rawrie was born?
Alex: We wanted to go full-time from birth but found it much easier to go slowly and use reusables 50/50 with disposables. We experimented with terry cloths at first, but Rawrie’s thighs were just too skinny for them and we had leaking problems quite early on. With a bit more knowledge of the newborn fold this may have worked out differently, but for us it only took a little bit of searching on Facebook to find preloved packs of All-in-Ones and Shaped nappies, and they worked a lot better for him. We cut up the terry cloths and they’ve made great kitchen towels and cleaning cloths for glasses, so they didn’t go to waste.
What have you learned from working with Real Nappies for London?
Jenny: Where do I begin?? Alice is such an amazing colleague, having been in this industry for over eight years, I have loved testing her knowledge. One of the best things has been connecting with so many other amazing people across the reusable nappy industry and learning all pearls of wisdom from them along the way (including, most recently, tips and tricks for drying reusable nappies).
If I had to take anything away from this job, which I absolutely love (who doesn’t want to get on the phone to parents and chat with them about their favourite thing?), it’s discovering the fact that parents don’t have to go full-time in order to make an impact. This is both for themselves, for their own local community and for the whole plant. Parents can and should go at their own pace, and they should feel good about using reusable nappies part-time. I thought that if I used any disposables on my baby then I was failing the planet. Turns out the complete opposite is true. If one family used reusable nappies for just one day a week (kind of like your standard meat-free days, if that’s your thing), this can save 780 disposable nappies from landfill or incineration over the time that your little one is in nappies.
What has been your favourite thing about using reusable nappies?
Alex: Not having to buy weekly packs of disposable nappies – you can really feel the impact on your weekly shopping bill. I love the convenient All-in-Ones, which we now give to Rawrie’s childminder to use on him.
Jenny: The savings we’ve made, and just the idea that we will never run out of nappies again! 90% of Rawrie’s nappies are second-hand from other parents (you can read all about my tips for buying second-hand from a previous blog). I love how high-quality the materials are, so I’ve been able to pick up nappies that have already been through two children and they still work very well.
What is the future for your family and reusable nappies?
Jenny: Our little girl is due in January 2021. We are beyond excited to meet her, but I am also very excited to do reusable nappies from birth again. We know that she’ll be smaller than Rawrie (he was a whopping 9lbs 5…!), so we decided to get a preloved pack of newborn nappies – the ones in our stash are Close Parent wraps and a pile of cotton prefolds. Now that I know about the standard newborn fold, I’m looking forward to using prefolds on my daughter. They are adorable and Rawrie has already started practicing with them on a teddy bear. Alex and I are completely in the zone of washing our nappies every week (the routine could not be simpler – just join one of our upcoming demos to hear me talk about it!) so we have no fears of washing at a newborn’s changing rate. We’ll be back in the spring to let you know how it’s all going.
25 November 2020
Blog post for European Week for Waste Reduction.