For Reusable Nappy Week 2021 (19-25 April), we asked reusable users for comments. Edited extracts below. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
Reusable nappies are also known as ‘cloth’, ‘real’ or ‘washable’ nappies. Using reusable nappies instead of costly, wasteful single-use plastic ones will save money in the long term, reduce waste, and help your environment. And local reusable nappy packs for hire – see below – are a great way to try them out.
“Used for both of my children and will use for my third. My boy’s nursery have been great with them. More washes needed but you just get used to it. Definitely saved money over the years and have bought most of mine second hand off social media.” – Rachael, Somerset
Modern reusable nappies come in a range of shapes, sizes and colours designed to suit your baby and your pocket. They have many of the same convenient design features as disposables, like a fitted shape, and by using poppers and Velcro fastenings they are easy to put on and take off.
“Lots of great things: don’t smell as much as disposables, fewer poo leaks when younger, better for the environment, cuter, harder for a toddler to remove by themselves! Our childcare provider has been brilliant; no issues with them using cloth full time.” – Kayleigh, Somerset
Modern reusable nappies are easy to wash and can be used with a liner to catch solid waste and reduce soiling of the nappy. After flushing the poo from the liner down the toilet, simply bag and bin the single-use liner or, if you’re using reusable liners, pop it in the nappy bucket for washing later. Nappies and reusable liners can be washed between 40 degrees C and 60 degrees C (depending on soiling) and either line or tumble dried.
“So easy to use, I actually don’t understand what the fuss is about! I find the idea of putting poo in a bin way more off putting than rinsing it into a toilet. Didn’t soak ours, just put them in a wet bag and washed every three days. You can sell them on for almost what you bought them for. Easiest green parenting decision!” – Suzanne, Taunton
Although there is a high initial outlay for reusable nappies compared to market leading disposable nappies, you can save up to £500 over the time your child is in nappies. You can save even more by reusing the nappies again for subsequent children or by selling the reusable nappies when no longer needed. Home laundering nappies costs about £1 a week. You can make further savings by using fleece liners, rather than single-use liners – up to £75 and making your own wipes from material can save a further £250.
“Using cloth nappies seemed complicated as there are so many different sorts but we hired a pack from a nappy library to try it out and found it was great once we got into the swing of it! We would absolutely recommend it, it does take a little bit of getting used to but quickly becomes the norm.” – Alex, Wellington
Disposable nappies are a source of single-use plastic and the UK dumps around three billion disposable nappies a year. In the UK, the vast majority of these will end up buried in landfill or taken to Waste to Energy facilities where it is burnt to create electricity. The recycling industry is working on technology to recycle disposable nappies, but this is not widely available.
“I have five kids and have used them for them all. They don’t smell half as bad, no nappy rash (which my girls had really badly when I did use disposables briefly), they look so much cuter and I’m convinced they have led to easier potty training. Oh, and no unplanned nappy free time as they can’t undo the poppers!” – Hayley, Somerset
A typical baby will require about 4,000 nappy changes. If you use disposable nappies in Somerset, these will be burnt with your other rubbish to create electricity, or you can reuse around 24 reusable nappies between birth and potty training, saving resources and reducing carbon emissions. And by line drying and using the reusable nappies for a second child, the financial and environmental savings will be even more.
“I used washables on my four but only during the day. It’s important to remember that you’re allowed to mix it up if that works for you and your child.” – Nicola, Mendip
More nappy stats and facts: www.wrap.org.uk/content/real-nappies-overview
“I ended up using cloth but was worried where to start as a new mum with a newborn. There’s so much information on the internet but the most help is actually talking to someone who’s used them or an expert.” – Katie, Taunton
Nappy designs to suit your child
Modern reusable nappies are made from natural materials like cotton, bamboo and hemp and from man-made fabrics like fleece. They do not contain chemical gels and are available in a wide range of styles.
“Best advice I was given was that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing; no one is going to judge you if you need a few disposable days in between to catch up and that every cloth you manage to use is still one more nappy you’ve saved from landfill! You do have to persevere at the start, find what works for you and it’s definitely all about getting the right fit but once you’ve mastered it they really aren’t any different than disposables! They look super cute on whilst doing good for the environment. My bin isn’t constantly full either; no squashing down a stinky overflowing bin so the lid shuts, which is a massive bonus.” – Holly, Wellington
The main styles are:
“I’ve been using reusable diapers on my two young children for over a year. I only wish I’d done it sooner. Although the initial investment is larger, I’d made my money back already six months into use. Neither of my children have ever had nappy rash as there are no nasty chemicals. I’ve already saved myself a fortune and hopefully saved the environment a lot of suffering in the process. Best eco-conscious decision I ever made.” – Krystal, Taunton
Want to try reusable nappies, but not sure where to start? Keep reading for great local deals on reusable nappy hire and Somerset nappy libraries, services and helpful sources of information.
Somerset Waste Partnership is working with community partners on promoting alternatives for disposable nappies.
We have provided £11,000 of funding across local cloth nappy support groups Carry Me Kate Parenting Services CIC helping people switch to reusable nappies. This funding has provided fantastic reusable nappy packs to hire direct from the groups and a pack which can be hired from Share – a library of things in Frome.
By working together to provide reusable nappy packs with a bumper selection of styles and brands to suit all budgets, we hope you’re more likely to find the perfect fit for your baby and your lifestyle.
The project brings the expertise and advice of the nappy support groups, and funding for 30 fantastic reusable nappy packs for hire with an impressive selection of styles and brands to suit all budgets, and a load of accessories to help you get started.
With so much to try and the guidance from nappy advisors, we hope more people will gain the confidence to make the switch to reusables and reduce the tonne of disposable nappy waste the average child produces until they are toilet trained.
What’s in the local reusable nappy packs?
Each reusable nappy pack funded by Somerset Waste Partnership will include a range of (almost) birth-to-potty nappies, sized nappies, pre-folds and Terry squares, waterproof wraps, wet bags, mesh bag for bucket (bucket not supplied), nappy nippa, reusable wipes, reusable fleece liners, boosters for extra absorbency, and a roll of disposable liners.
The nappy support groups have carefully selected the specific pack contents – brands may differ between packs, but all include a range to suit different budgets for each style of nappy.
Each community partner sets their own terms and conditions, hire durations and rates. All are fantastic value for hiring such substantial reusable nappy packs.
Below is an example of one of the reusable nappy packs put together by Carry Me Kate Parenting CIC with the grant money from SWP.
Three local community organisations will be hiring reusable nappy packs which were funded by SWP – Carry Me Kate Parenting Services CIC, South Somerset Cloth Nappy Library and Share, a library of things in Frome. See next section for more details.
Please contact organisations direct for updates during coronavirus pandemic.
Carry Me Kate Parenting Services CIC is a community interest company offering parents access to different services, including a cloth nappy hire and advice service, sling hire and feeding support, with meetings across Somerset. Has over 20 reusable nappy packs funded by SWP (see Great local deals above).
Area covered: Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West & Taunton, South Somerset (western part including Chard and Ilminster)
Hire cost: £15 for 4 weeks hire. Card details taken in lieu of deposit.
Facebook: Carry Me Kate on Facebook,
Phone: 07583 829880
South Somerset Cloth Nappy Library provides reusable nappy hire and helpful advice for “going cloth” to people living in South Somerset and North Dorset. They will have 6 new reusable nappy packs funded by SWP – pack contents are on order from supplier. (See Great local deals above).
Area covered: South Somerset (central and eastern part)
Hire cost: £15 for 4 weeks hire plus refundable deposit on return.
Facebook: South Somerset Cloth Nappy Library on Facebook
Share, – a library of things in Frome offers various sized reusable nappy kits for hire and has one of the SWP funded nappy packs for hire which includes over 25 nappies of various types, pack of reusable wipes, wet bags, and other accessories. (See Great local deals above)
Area covered: Frome and surrounding area (borrower collects)
Hire cost: Pack sizes and hire rates vary. Can be hired from a single day to weeks. Please note, you need to become a member of Share to borrow items.
Phone: 07983 639611 (opening hours only)
Address: 3A The Bridge, Frome, BA11 1AR
The Nappy Lady is an informative website providing advice and support about all things washable nappy related, including help and how to videos. These explain how to use and wash cloth nappies, the parts of a nappy system, answers to nappy concerns, and much more.
Mummyoffour.com helps “busy mums make their lives easier with parenting tips, trick, hacks reviews and advice”. There is a suite of useful videos on reusable nappies, including accessories you need to go with reusable nappies, cloth nappy liners, inserts and boosters explained, and how to stuff pocket nappies.
Somerset Choices website has information about local services to help children, young people and their families.
There are several Facebook groups, internet parenting forums and reusable nappy retail sites which provide advice and guidance on different reusable nappy designs and styles. Some may also offer opportunities to buy or sell second-hand reusable nappies, as do some NCT events.
Usednappies.co.uk is a dedicated website to buy and sell used cloth nappies.
Supporting residents with children in nappies or those using incontinence products
Somerset Waste Partnership is committed to working with residents to improve recycling rates and reduce waste. We understand that everyone’s circumstances will be different and that this may be a challenge for some. This is particularly important with the introduction of the expanded recycling service, Recycle More – as well as collecting more recycling from the kerbside every week, rubbish will be collected every three weeks instead of every two weeks (somersetwaste.gov.uk/recycle-more).
Requests for extra space may be for a variety of reasons, for example a household where someone has a medical need that generates substantial waste (such as adult hygiene products), or large families or families with children in nappies.
Extra space for rubbish will only be authorised for households making full use of the weekly recycling and food waste collections. Additional recycling and food containers can be requested, free of charge through the SWP website or by contacting district council customer service teams.
Extra space for rubbish will only be provided if it is essential. The extra space may be in the form of an additional bin (if the need is long-term, for example because it is linked to a health condition) or stickers for rubbish sacks (if the need is temporary, for example because it is linked to a children in nappies).
Requests for extra space for rubbish are assessed on a case-by-case basis. At any stage SWP may arrange a visit from a Waste Management Officer to confirm a household’s needs and to make sure rubbish and recycling are being appropriately managed.
The steps in our process for support are as follows:
When assessing capacity, we will take account of the number of adults in the house, the number of children, and whether any of the children are in nappies (acknowledging the extra waste generated by children in nappies).
If residents have concerns about being able to manage – provided the standard capacity is sufficient for the number of residents, they will be asked to give it a try first and contact us again if there are issues after they have been through one full collection cycle.
This policy applies to children in nappies who are expected to potty train between 2 and 4 years old. If a child or adult has long-term health issues, or the waste is due to the use of continence products, then permanent additional capacity in the form of extra bin space can be provided. Otherwise stickers will be provided for a fixed period of time. If stickers are provided, we advise that nappies are double-bagged and put in the rubbish bin (to reduce any odour issues) and the extra rubbish bags are used for other forms of waste.
As well as ensuring residents can manage their nappy waste, we would like to make it easier for them to be able to try and switch to using reusable nappies, reducing waste and saving money. To do this, we are working with local nappy libraries to extend their reach and ensure that everyone in Somerset who wishes to try using reusable nappies will be able to do so at low cost. We are also working with Wessex Water and the nappy groups to provide reusable baby wipe kits for hire.
The groups will be there to provide expert advice and support and to help residents make the switch. Some also provide advice on reusable sanitary products.
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