Monday, April 13, 2009

(Wo)man of the cloth

Lovely Lies over at Anemone has inspired me to write a little about my preferred method of mess-mopping: cloth nappies!

Way back when little Babushka was the size of a pear, I decided to start thinking about practical things, such as where she would sleep, how she'd get around, and what sort of nappies we'd use. Although, the nappy question didn't require a great deal of rumination in the end - I'm pretty sure I've always been pro-cloth. My own parents were staunch members of the cloth brigade, even though at any one time at least three out of the four of us would have been wearing them (I'm reaching new levels of admiration for dear ol' ma and pa people every day!). The image of an old wooden clothesline with those lovely white squares in the sunshine is one of my favourites from childhood...

Anyway, enough sentimentality for the moment. I haven't had the misfortune to come across anyone who has challenged me on my choice or been negative about it, although I have heard from those who have. I've been enormously lucky - marvellous Jen and Carolyn have been great help, supplying us with pilchers and Snappies and washable liners. Carolyn's daughter Annie runs nappy workshops up in Newtown which I'd love to attend (who knows if I'm actually doing anything right!). Here are a couple of facts from the Oz Cloth website, another great resource for anyone who chooses to be a material girl:

* Disposable nappies have 2.3 times the water impact of cloth nappies
* Organic cotton, hemp, and bamboo (used in many modern cloth nappies) are farmed in more earth-friendly ways including the minimisation of use of water, chemicals and pesticides
* On average, washing cloth nappies for one baby is about equivalent to flushing the toilet four to six times a day.
* Reusable nappies have a lower energy, fossil fuel and emissions impact compared to throwaway nappies

This website also contains links to articles and studies regarding the environmental impact of both cloth and disposables, including this interesting piece from the Women's Environmental Network about Proctor & Gamble's 'greenwashing' of their disposable nappy products.

So far, we've been using 'standard' cloth nappies, i.e. the large squares of cotton towelling fastened with a pin or a Snappi, with a nappy pilcher and a strip of microfleece as a washable liner (thanks Jen and Carolyn!). We also bought a Pea Pod a few weeks ago - these claim to only need the absorbant bamboo insert at night, but I find that the Pea Pod by itself isn't terribly effective (my daughter's ablutions are no different whether it's night or day) and they're a bit expensive. I'm considering buying some AIOs (All In One) on eBay, but for now what we have is sufficient.

That's not to say that we don't bend and use disposables occasionally. We used them when we went down to Narooma as I didn't fancy schlepping a bucket full of soiled nappies on a five hour trip in a hot car (and with Anouk's cradle we didn't have a lot of space). And now that I'm trying to avoid using the car, if I'm walking into town or to the doctor's with Anouk in her sling I take disposables as they're lighter and easier to pop into my satchel. But I actually enjoy using cloth for the rest of the time - sure, they can be a b**ch to launder and it gets tiring, but they're also so much cuter on a baby :-)

PS: some other useful cloth nappy links:
All About Nappies
Modern Nappies
Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne

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