I’m no eco warrior, nor am I as earth motherly as I imagined I might be.
In the 5 months since my son was born my house has filled with the ‘stuff’ I swore I wouldn’t buy. The mental image I had throughout pregnancy of carrying my exclusively breastfed baby around in a cotton sling never materialised on either count.
In my working life I didn’t think twice about binning the plastic from my pret lunch and whilst I diligently recycle at home, I’ve never gone much beyond that.
Why then would I decide to give reusable nappies a go?
In truth I’m not sure but I suppose being at home with a baby all day gives you more time to think (whilst simultaneously having less time to actually get anything done!) and the fact that I quite like a challenge.
How much environmental ‘good’ reusables actually do is subject to debate. If you wash them in a separate load at 60° and then tumble dry them, your co2 emissions are likely to be about the same as if you were using disposable.
Luckily you don’t need to do this. I don’t use the tumble dryer and I’ve found a 30 minute wash at 30° works fine with wet nappies – dirty ones just need a bit of a soak beforehand.
Above all you’ll save an estimated 4000 nappies from going into landfill, which for me was the real motivation.
One thing for sure, they are harder work than disposables and you have to change them more often.
For me, though, the satisfaction outweighs the inconvenience. Having said that I still use a disposable at night – I’m not so committed to the cause that I’d jeopardise him sleeping through the night and one nappy definitely wouldn’t last 12 hours!
Before I started using them I couldn’t get my head around how they actually worked.
Whilst the various different brands of reusable nappies vary in shape and material, the basics are the same.
You stuff the waterproof outer nappy with a bit of padded toweling then you line the nappy with a flushable liner. The idea is that the liner will catch all the solids so you simply flush this, and the outer nappy and pad remain relatively untouched by anything but liquid.
More often than not this works but given a baby’s tendency to produce explosive poos, it isn’t always the case…
Whilst reusables certainly save you money in the long run (around £1500) the £30-£70 it costs for a ‘starter kit’ can seem a lot, especially when you’re not sure you’ll even stick at it.
It’s worth checking if the area you live has a voucher scheme – I received a £54 voucher to use on my choice of reusable.
Even if you don’t live in a qualifying area, the initial outlay is soon recouped especially of you use them for more than one child.
It wasn’t a perfect start – in the first week both Rufus and I had to change clothes several times thanks to leaks but once you get the hang of it it really isn’t that bad.
If you’re looking to allay some environmental guilt then I can highly recommend reusables.