Top tips for living a more sustainable life

An electric car for more sustainable transport

**This is a collaborative post

I wouldn’t say we are the most eco-friendly family ever but we try to do our bit to help the environment and life a more sustainable life whenever we can. I thought I would share a few of the things we do to try and minimise our impact on the environment, and some of the things we would like to do some time in the near future – like get an electric car! Read more

Cloth nappies // How to choose the right cloth nappies?

So you’ve decided you want to give them a try but how do you choose the right cloth nappies? This is by far the hardest part. There is so much choice out there that it really is difficult to know where to start! There are a few different options when it comes to cloth nappies; firstly, two part or all-in-one.

Two part nappy

Choosing the right cloth nappy - two part nappy

A two part nappy has the absorbent inner nappy separate from a waterproof outer wrap. The absorbent nappy can either be shaped (more like a disposable) or you can use terry squares (like my mum used on me!) or pre-folds (which fold into a pad which then sits inside the wrap). Read more

Cloth nappies // Why choose cloth nappies?

We’ve been using cloth nappies full time since Toby was seven weeks old. He wore them until potty training at three and a bit. With Gabe we started with cloth nappies at three days old and we’re still going strong 20 months later. But why choose cloth nappies? Starting out can be a bit of a minefield though so I thought I’d share a bit about our experience.

Cloth nappies on washing line - why choose cloth nappies

There are loads of reasons to choose cloth nappies over disposables.

Saving money

There were two main reasons we chose cloth; firstly the cost. Estimates can vary but if your baby wears nappies until they are two and a half years old (and Toby did another whole year after that!) they will probably use between five and six thousand nappies! Read more

Zero Waste Week 2014

zero-waste-week-illustration-small2

Did you know that this week is Zero Waste Week? No, me neither, until I got an email from the Reusable Nappy Association about a giveway they are running to mark the week.

I think we’re already pretty good at minimising waste in our house; we recycle paper, plastic, metal and food waste in our household bins which are collected by the council. The council doesn’t collect glass but we take that to be recycled too. Since baby food pouches can’t be recycled with the rest of our waste I’ve been collecting them with the intention of sending them off to Count The Kicks to be recycled and raise some funds for them in the process.

As I’m sure you’ll know if you’ve read this blog before we also use cloth nappies and wipes with Toby which has a massive impact on the amount of rubbish we send to landfill. I’ve also been using cloth sanitary towels for the last few months which is another way I’m reducing the waste I create. (I know there is still an environmental impact from the extra washing but I can live with that).

With the steps we already take as a family to reduce our waste we probably put about one supermarket carrier bag (I usually take my own shopping bags to the supermarket but on the odd occasion we pick up a carrier bag I keep them and use them as bin liners) of rubbish in our landfill bin each week….and a lot of that is tissues due to my never-ending hayfever and/or cold!

So all in all we do pretty well, not quite zero waste, but not far off. But the theme of this year’s Zero Waste Week is “One More Thing” and there is always something more we can do. I’ve been having a think about what I could do. I ruled out a couple of things; I might be happy to wash Toby’s nappies and wipes but I’m not ready for us to make the move to ‘family wipes’ (yep, washable toilet paper really is a thing!) any time soon! And so my pledge for Zero Waste Week is to keep doing what we’re doing but do it better. I admit I occasionally get a bit lazy and if something has been put in one of the bedroom or bathroom bins that could be recycled but is mixed in with used tissues and the like then I just chuck it all in the landfill, so that’s definitely something I could improve. The other area we could probably do a bit better is food waste – for the most part we do really well. I plan meals and only buy what we need so the only real food waste is things like peelings and tea bags but there are times when things go off, especially if I try and buy all our fresh food in one weekly shop so I’m going to look at ways to try and stop that happening in future. Perhaps I should only buy the fresh produce for the first half of the week and do a top up shop later, or maybe I need to plan meals that don’t need as much fresh veg for the end of the week.

So that’s what I’m going to do – is there something you could do to reduce your waste for Zero Waste Week (and beyond)?

*I wasn’t asked to write this post or compensated in any way.

Starting out with cloth nappies

I had thought about using cloth nappies while I was still pregnant and I did some research. What I found out is that there seems to be a limitless amount of options available in the world of cloth nappies. There are two part nappies, pocket nappies, all in ones, sized nappies, birth to potty nappies not to mention wraps, disposable liners, reusable liners, wet bags, reusable wipes… To be honest, the only scary part about using cloth nappies is making a decision about what kind of nappies to use. Other than that it seemed like a no brainer – cloth nappies are cheaper than using disposables (although there is an initial financial outlay needed), they are better for the environment (even when you take into account production and washing/drying cloth) and they are better for your baby (keeping all the nasty chemicals found in disposables away from your precious little one’s bum!).

Cloth nappies aren't scary

I did decide that having my first baby and dealing with all the new challenges that would bring would be enough to cope with in the first few weeks so we would leave cloth nappies for the first month or so. A lot of the advice I read also suggested trying a few different types of nappies on your baby to see what kind of system works for you before committing to buy a full set of nappies. Obviously this isn’t going to be possible until your baby is actually here! The other thing that put me off starting with cloth nappies was the cost. Cloth is definitely cheaper than disposables in the long run and I was pretty sure I wanted to maximise this cost saving by choosing a birth-to potty nappy. This is a nappy which uses a series of poppers and sometimes velcro to adjust the nappy to fit your baby. However, these nappies are usually very bulky on a small newborn baby. Toby was only 6lb 10oz when he was born and we would probably have had to invest in some specific newborn nappies to use them straight away. However, if I wasn’t already convinced, the amount of nappies that went in our landfill bin in those first few weeks certainly cemented the decision to use cloth nappies in my mind.

So, when Toby was about five weeks old I got some personalised recommendations from The Nappy Lady and ordered two different nappies to try out. There are lots of cloth nappy retailers that will provide you with free, impartial advice to help you choose which nappies to use. Some also offer trial schemes, or you might be able to find a nappy library in your area. Anyway, after trying the nappies during the day for a few days I was really happy with them. I chose my favourites (the Bumgenius Freetime – an all in one nappy for day time, and the Tots Bots Bamboozle Stretch with a separate wrap for night time), took the plunge and ordered some more. Toby went into cloth nappies full time at about seven weeks old and it actually makes me very proud to say he hasn’t worn a disposable since. I added a few more nappies to my collection over the next few weeks and now with fourteen day nappies and four night time nappies I have enough to wash every 2-3 days and dry them on the line (if it ever stops raining long enough!) or more usually, hung in the airing cupboard.

I absolutely love our cloth nappies and sing their praises to anyone who will listen! Toby has never had nappy rash, we’ve only ever had two leaks and that was only a tiny damp patch on his trousers because he’d been in the car seat for too long without a nappy change. I love seeing his colourful little bum in his nappies every day and most of all I love that we are not sending hundreds of nappies to landfill every month. We use reusable wipes (the brilliant Cheeky Wipes that I have mentioned before) and washable fleece liners too so everything from Toby’s nappy changes is just washed and is ready to be used again and again and again.

Cloth nappies do seem to be gaining in popularity. I’ve seen quite a few babies wearing them at the various baby groups we go to and there’s been quite a bit of interest from other mums when they see Toby in his. Lots of the blogs I read and people I follow on Twitter are cloth nappy users too (although that could well be due to the fact I tend to find other people who are similar to me when deciding what to read). Judging by the number of nappy retailers you can find online, cloth nappies are certainly big business and as we become more aware of our environment I can only see that they will become even more popular.

There will be more posts to follow about the ins and outs of having a cloth bummed baby (including the all important ‘what do I do with the poo??’) as well as my opinions of the nappies that we have chosen to use. I’m still pretty new to cloth but if you have any questions about using cloth nappies then I will do my best to help. Do you use cloth nappies on your baby? Which are your favourites? Are you considering cloth or could you not even entertain the thought? I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts and opinions.