By Emily Holdaway. Photography: Imelda Louise Birth Photography
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 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.
The idea behind the group was to create connections between parents. Parents wanting to start cloth nappies but feeling overwhelmed, and parents with spare cloth nappies wanting to help.
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 few weeks, and we’ve just clocked nearly 800 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?