Whenever the topic of reducing household waste comes up, you can bet one of the first things people suggest is changing from disposable nappies to cloth nappies. The ‘why’ is simple, it is the biggest single change a household with nappy wearing children can make to reduce their monthly rubbish output, (and it saves a packet of cash too). But many people have no idea where or how to start.
Cloth nappies? Oh, it’s too expensive. Too confusing. It seems like so much work. It’s all so . . . overwhelming.
I get that. It does seem that way. So many options, so many types. So many different prices and different styles. How do you wash them, how do you put them on, do they even work, and what about the poo? Do I have to touch poo?!
It’s no wonder people are put off before even giving it a go.
Recently I have realised that just blogging about them isn’t making that much difference. Most of the positive response comes from parents already using cloth nappies. The comments from those yet to try echo the above. And it got me thinking, how can I create change?
Cost. Confusion. Apprehension. If I can remove these roadblocks, will people be more open to the idea?
Hey! What if I could offer free nappies?
That morning on Instagram I put the call out: ‘If you have good quality, second hand cloth nappies sitting around doing nothing, send them to me to re-home’. And people did! Boy did they ever! I had boxes and boxes of nappies turning up every few days.
Later that week on Facebook I posted about cloth nappies. It was during Plastic Free July, and I had been made aware of the ‘1 a Day’ Cloth Nappy Challenge, which seemed a nice easy way to get people to give it a go. To make things easier for anyone wanting to try, I offered to send a 2-pack trial, free. (Just cover $5 postage).
The response was awesome, in the first week I sent out 40 trial packs to parents all over New Zealand!
In fact, the response was so awesome I had to change the way I was doing things, because the time it was taking to package up and send nappies all over NZ wasn’t sustainable. So I started the Raising Ziggy Cloth Nappy Pay it Forward Facebook group.
The idea behind the group was to create connections between parents. Parents those wanting to start cloth nappies but feeling overwhelmed, and parents with spare cloth nappies wanting to help. As well as cutting down on the amount of time I was spending making and sending nappy packs! Where possible, parents in the same part of New Zealand could meet up, giving some face to face encouragement along with the nappies. And if there is no one in your area, then I send a pack to you for $5 postage.
It is a safe, easy place to start out, and ask all the questions you want without feeling embarrassed. Everyone in the group is either a total beginner, or an experienced cloth nappy user happy to share everything they know.
It’s only been running for a couple of weeks, and we’ve just clocked over 250 members.
A few days ago I received a message from a mum who had invested less than $200, getting enough cloth nappies to use them full time during the day. She said it was something she never would have done without having those first two free nappies to try. Another mum went op-shopping and scored 20 nappies for $40!
The feedback coming in all goes along the same lines . . . ‘it wasn’t as hard as I thought’. ‘I actually really like them. ‘I would never have started without this opportunity’. ‘I can already see a difference in my rubbish bin!’.
So, if you are thinking about making some changes around the house, why not give modern cloth nappies a go?
The cloth nappy of today is a far cry from those our parents used. Funky, colourful, easy to put on, easy to take off. Depending on the brand they retail between $10 – $40ish. There is a huge second-hand market online too, another great thing about cloth nappies is how long they last. If you have more than one child, you can use the same nappies, saving you even more.
The impact changing to cloth will have, both on your pocket, and on our planet cannot be understated. The average family will spend roughly $5000 per child on disposable nappies. Per child. Every day in New Zealand 1 million disposable nappies go into our rubbish bins, destined for landfill. Those thrown away nappies will still be there, full of poo (which we should actually flush down the toilet before putting in the rubbish) over 400 years later.
So take the one a day challenge. Use one cloth nappy a day. Do that for a year and that’s 365 nappies you’ve not bought nor thrown away.
I acknowledge cloth nappies are not for everyone. Not everyone has access to a washing machine. The up-front cost is a barrier for many people. And for some people, life is at capacity as it is, without taking on something that seems so overwhelming.
There is more washing. There will be leaks as you get used to it. There will be a few bumps along the way. So join our PIF cloth nappy group, then we can help you with free, good quality second hand nappies, plus all the online support you need.
It’s time to make changes to the way we’re living. This is one way.
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