Make your own Pallet Garden

Have you got a spare pallet knocking around? They are easy to get hold of if not…. and what a gorgeous project this is! Just follow the steps below to create your own repurposed Pallet Garden. Thank You so much to the ingenious Hannah at The Chimney House for the inspiration. You can check out her fantastic Blog using the link for Meeting, Making and Munching!

DIY Pallet Garden Front
DIY Pallet Garden Front

1- Find a pallet. They’re all slightly different. Look at their bottoms or underneath. This is the side you will have facing you to plant into. I chose ones with just four slats as I wanted a bit more space between each slat for the plants. Also, if you’re having a few side by side, check the ‘colours’ and fading of the wood match. I found one was very grey and one was a warm yellow, so searched though our pile until I had two similar in colour.

2- Turn them, so the underneath is facing you and slats are horizontal. Now you have two choices! You can either back the whole lot, fill with compost whilst lying on the floor, plant whilst it’s flat, then stand and secure to wall OR stand against wall (preferably a garden wall. If it’s against the wall of your house you must leave a gap and put a watertight membrane against the back of the pallet you so don’t end up getting damp! ) secure to wall, put in little compost holders and fill with plants.

DIY Pallet Garden
DIY Pallet Garden

A)
If you chose the backing and planting whilst flat, here’s what to do next…

Back (as in, cover the top/front, since the underneath is now your front) the pallet with a strong weed-stop membrane. I use a staple gun…not a craft one but a more substantial DIY one. You might also want to cover the sides to create an enclosed space. If you’re putting against a house wall I suggest you google how best to back it.

Fill all areas with compost.

Choose your plants…depending on the size of your pallet and your gaps, you’re looking for 2/3 per slat space/area. Choose a range to suit you. I have three types of fern forwards the bottom, a few herbs in amongst, a few pretty little flowers, some sedums that grow tall, some that will trail, and some taller plants (erysimum, wallflowers) for the top to make it pretty!

Plant as usual where you fancy. Shady, water loving plants towards the base.

Water and wait until all soaked in.

Raise pallet, leave a gap of 2/3 inches between the base of the pallet and the wall and lean gently!

I would definitely suggest securing the top of the pallet to the wall. I was lucky, there were already several screws in the wall and the perfect height. I used garden wire, wrapped around a top slat, round the screw, onto the next screw and back around the top slat of the next pallet.

Stand back and admire your new garden!

DIY Pallet Garden #1
DIY Pallet Garden #1

B…
If you chose the lean up and plant when in place option, here’s what to do next…

If you’re putting it up against a house wall I suggest you google how best to back it. You’ll need something like a waterproof membrane to put over the back of the pallet to prevent damp. But please do look it up properly. I use a staple gun…not a craft one but a more substantial DIY one.

Raise pallet, leave a gap of 2/3 inches between the base of the pallet and the wall.

I would definitely suggest securing the top of the pallet to the wall. I was lucky, there were already several screws in the wall and the perfect height. I used garden wire, wrapped around a top slat, round the screw, onto the next screw and back around the top slat of the next pallet.

Now you need little pouches for the compost and plants to sit in. I was lucky…each half (left or right side) was just the right length to use the bottom of a bag for life! Flatten the plastic bag, run a pair of scissors along about 3/4 inches up (leave it taller if you’re not sure, you can always cut down to size when you’ve tried it out) to cut the bottoms pouch section off. This will then sit inside each section and you use your staple gun to secure in place. I began with one staple in the middle at the back, then each end, then secured over the front lip of the slat at each end. It takes a little while.

If you don’t want to use plastic, weed netting or similar will be fine but you need something the water will drown through.

Stab holes with a pair of scissors through the bottoms of all the plastic pouches.

Fill each little pouch with compost but leave them shallow enough to top up with plants.

Choose your plants…depending on the size of your pallet and your gaps, you’re looking for 2/3 per slat space/area. Choose a range to suit you. I have three types of fern forwards the bottom, a few herbs in amongst, a few pretty little flowers, some sedums that grow tall, some that will trail, and some taller plants (erysimum, wallflowers) for the top to make it pretty!

Plant as usual where you fancy. Shady, water loving plants towards the base.

Water.

Stand back and admire your new garden!

DIY Pallet Gsrden #2
DIY Pallet Garden #2

Hope that helps everyone. I sort of made it up as I went along. If I did it again, I

think I’d go for the complete fill with compost and then lean up approach rather than the shallow ‘beds’…thinking it through, it would mean each plant has lots of space and growing room. What I might do as they grow is top up each section

with compost so it goes to the ‘top’ of each slat. I may even, at some point, take them down and redo if I find the plants aren’t growing strongly. But bear in mind, they’ll be a lot heavier if completely filled. I’ve also seen people used them as shallow raised beds laying flat!

DIY Pallet Garden Side
DIY Pallet Garden Side

Why not have a go yourself? We would LOVE to see your creations in our Facebook group Yes Bebe Babble! It’s a fantastic, friendly community full of ideas and inspiration like this!

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What is a Wet Bag?

What is commonly referred to as a Wet Bag is a bag made from PUL (a waterproof material) that is usually sealed with a zip and designed to store used or wet items before they are washed. They can be used for swimming and gym wear but in this context are for cloth nappies.

The design means that they keep moisture and any smells contained within the bag so that they are a practical storage for soiled and wet nappies.

Wet Bags are available in a range of sizes, from small which may store 1 or 2 nappies or your reuseable wipes to the largest in which you can fit 15-20 nappies and large enough to use as your at home, before wash storage. The advantage of using a wet bag like this is that you simply unzip the bag, allowing the nappies to fall out during the wash cycle, and put the whole thing inside the drum. No need to touch or even look at the nappies.

For use out and about most people opt for a medium size bag, enough to hold a days worth. Again, unzip and place this bag inside your largest storage bag and wash the whole lot together.

Some wet bags have two sections with protection between so that when you are out of the home you can keep your dry unused nappies in one half and your used, wet nappies in the other. They tend to have some kind of handle, either one that snaps together to form a loop or else permanent strong handles.

They are a crucial part of making the use of cloth nappies and wipes easy and practical.

To browse Wet Bags click here

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What are Reuseable Pull Ups and Training Pants?

Towards the end of the time in which your child wears a nappy it may be appropriate to use reuseable Pull Up or Training Pants. This may be because your child will not lay down to be changed any longer or you wish to involve them in the change, encouraging independence before they are using the potty or toilet completely independently

Reuseable Pull Ups and Training Pants tend to have a fully elasticated waist band and/or side closure. The absorbent component may lay inside or be put into a pocket. In most cases the amount of absorbency in a pull up is less than a conventional nappy due to the nature of the design. It is also assumed that that there will be a level of potty or toilet training happening and the insert will be changed regularly. Most are designed so that the shell can be used again immediately and the insert changed. It is not impossible to use Pull Up styles for longer periods if required absorbency can be achieved within the design.

Pull Ups may have a higher weight range than most nappies and the size can be increased further using  removeable extenders for the sides.

Reuseable Training Pants usually have a very small amount of inbuilt absorbency and little to no waterproofing. These are designed to be used as a safety net for small accidents. They should be treated as underwear and fully changed immediately.

To browse various options click here

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What is an All In Two Cloth Nappy?

All cloth nappies are made up of two components.

  • An absorbent part
  • A waterproof or water resistant part

An All in Two cloth nappy is one in which these two parts are attached but can be removed. This is usually done by a snap connecting the back of the absorbent soaker to the inner part of the waterproof shell. The absorbent soaker can come in a variety of shapes, from a long straight piece that folds over to create layers to a shaped piece that mirrors the shape of the shell.

You can see in this image an outer shell and two absorbent soakers which all snap together to create the All in Two nappy.

The parts can be separated to speed up drying or added to in order to increase absorbency. The flexibility with this type of nappy makes it popular. Another appealing quality is the high potential for containment. Once any urine or faeces has been absorbed by the absorbent material it then has to broach the elastics of the shell making leaks rare.

During washing the parts to tend to come apart so there is a small amount of preparation to put the nappy together again before use.

To browse click here

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What is a Nappy Liner?

When using cloth nappies some people prefer to use a nappy liner. This is a thin, non-absorbent piece of material that lays inside the nappy closest to the bottom. It has several purposes:

  • Catching poo
  • Protecting the nappy from stains
  • Keeping moisture away from the skin (fleece liners only)

There are two main types of nappy liner: Disposable and Reuseable. Disposable liners come on a roll and are commonly made from either bamboo or cornstarch. They are torn off the roll, placed inside the nappy and then removed and disposed off after a nappy change. They must be disposed of either in the general waste bin or composted, never flushed.

Reuseable liners are usually made from microfleece although other kinds do exist (silk for example). They have the additional function that when placed next to skin they quickly ‘wick’ moisture away and into the absorbent fabric beneath. They are soft to the touch which can be appealing.

After a wet change they should be left inside the nappy and washed all together. They air dry incredibly quickly. When dealing with a dirty change, post weaning, an effort should be made to deposit as much faeces as possible into the toilet. Various methods exist including holding under the flush and scraping off. Then the liner can be stored and washed with the nappy.

Reuseable liners are available in various sizes to suit the size of child and nappy and vary in texture across brands.

To browse the options click here

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What is a Night Nappy and How is it different?

A Night Nappy is a cloth nappy that is worn over night, for most it must last from bedtime until morning. It is recommended to change newborns throughout the night as they still poo after feeds and their skin is particularly delicate.

This means that, in general, they must be more absorbent that a nappy used during the day time. The amount of absorbency needed varies hugely depending on a few factors:

  • overnight fluids
  • amount of awake time
  • age of child
  • natural variations e.g. bladder size

A nappy described as a ‘night nappy’ will be designed with many layers to maximise absorbency and can be any type. Many nappies are suitable for use over night but are not described as such, most commonly these are Two Part nappies (absorbent nappy + wrap/cover) which are often boosted as required. However, many people have success over night with all kinds of nappy.

Night nappies are available in all sizes and both hook and loop and snap closure. 

Due to the extra layers they can be bigger than expected which can be a surprise and extra consideration should be taken to provide maximum comfort. You might consider the softness of elastics, fleece integral lining or adding a fleece liner yourself. If you reach the morning without leaks it’s a success. A fully saturated, wet nappy is one that is doing it’s job.

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How does Cloth Nappy Sizing work?

When buying a cloth nappy it’s important to check the  guidelines to make sure it will fit your child. However,  Cloth Nappy Sizing can be confusing when various brands use different terminology.

You will most commonly come across the phrase ‘Birth to Potty’ this may also be referred to as ‘One Size’. These nappies will be size adjustable most often using snaps on the front of the nappy to make it smaller and bigger. It covers the widest range of sizes from around 4.5kg to 16kg or 10lbs to 35lbs.

The majority of babies are born smaller than this and while ‘Birth to Potty’ is called this,  for most a smaller size is needed for the first few weeks. This is called ‘Newborn’ and tends to fit babies from 2kg to 5.5kgs or 4.5lbs to 12lbs.

Some manufacturers believe that a better fit and therefore greater comfort and less possibility of leaks and other problems can be achieved if the  cloth nappy sizing is broken down into more, smaller ranges. You may find these described as Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large or 1, 2 and 3. Unfortunately these two methods aren’t exactly equatable.

  • Small is usually interchangeable with Newborn: Up to 5 or 6kg/11 or 12lbs
  • Medium: Up to 10kg/22lbs
  • Large: Up to 13kg/28lbs
  • Extra Large: 12kg/26.5lbs and above.

 

  • Size 1 is usually a rough bridge between Newborn and Birth to Potty: 3-9ks/7-20lbs
  • Size 2: 9-16kgs/20-35lbs (A size 2 is often appropriate for a large portion of the ‘Birth to Potty’ size range.
  • Size 3: 16kgs/35lbs and above.

Extra Large and Size 3 are found in nappies that are appropriate for night time or maximum absorbency use as most children will be out of nappies or needing considerable absorbency before they hit this weight range.

Certain brands manufacture nappies that are larger than this to suit older children, teens and adults.

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Reuseable Wipes: Get the Lowdown

 

It’s time to stop flushing wipes to let our rivers run
https://www.theriverstrust.org/2019/01/15/its-time-to-stop-flushing-wipes-to-let-our-rivers-run/

The images of fatbergs in sewers and beaches and river beds strewn with flushed wet wipes are everywhere. How do they make you feel? Guilty? Annoyed? Frustrated? And how did it get that bad?

The thing is wet wipes are handy things! So useful, so easy!  Most people seem to have a pack in each room of the house and one in the car and use them for cleaning up all kinds of spills, for dusting, wiping surfaces, freshening up hands and faces. You name it a wet wipe will clean it. But it’s because they are so easy to use the amount that most families get through is astounding. It’s understandable that thinking of not having them around is very daunting. An alternative MUST be as easy and as effective.

Fortunately reuseable cloth wipes ARE. Ask anyone who uses them, one cloth wipe does the job of 3 disposable ones.  It’s the practical use of them that can be hard to get your head around so I’m going to break it down for you.

For use at home there are two popular methods. The first is to have a small pile of cloth wipes already damp and ready to use. Running them under a tap for a second, a quick squeeze and storing them in a wet bag or container takes seconds. I would say if you are changing many nappies a day and have lots of sticky hands and faces to wipe this method is going to be easiest for you.

The second method and probably more popular with parents of toddlers and older children is to ‘wet as you go’. Store your clean wipes dry and then grab one or two to use, wet them and off you go.

For either method used wipes can be put into a wet bag ready to be washed, just as you would with nappies.

It’s a popular idea to have different sets for bottoms and hands and faces, colour coding helps.

You will notice that if you are already using cloth nappies that not only does using reuseable wipes mean that you aren’t throwing those away it also means you don’t have to buy and throw away disposable nappy sacks that you would be putting your wipes in to put in the bin.

So, you’ve got that sussed but *deep breath* What about using them out and about??? It’s OK, you can exhale, I have news:

IT IS JUST AS EASY.

You know the wet bag or container I mentioned earlier? Just take that with you. As you are putting your nappies, spare clothes, snacks and kitchen sink into your changing bag, just put that in as you would a packet of disposable wipes. If you have pre wet them you are good to go, if not you might like to use a small spray bottle. When you have used one just put it into another wet bag, probably the same one you will be putting your used nappies into.

You are sensing a theme here right? Wet bags! A few small ones, a medium or large one for dirties out and about and an extra large one for home makes the whole system work.

So there you have it, ditch the throw away wipes, you won’t regret it.

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Our Zero-Waste journey

A zero-waste week post.

It was Christmas last year that the sheer volume of waste we produce as a family really hit me. Everything we bought seemed to be wrapped in pointless plastic. I had received parcel after parcel from the postman and had more parcel bags than I could ever imagine reusing, and a brown bin overflowing with corrugated cardboard… We missed the last bin collection before New Year and I lost it:

“That’s it! We’re going zero waste!”
“Ok. What’s that?” asked my ever-patient husband.
“I don’t exactly know. But we’re going there.”

And so our 2018 resolution was born. We’ve always been environmentally aware – we’ve used cloth nappies with all 3 kids, buying our first bin bag-full of preloved TotsBots back in 2012 when I was pregnant with the twins. I had previously made our own soap, dishwashing liquid and laundry detergent, because until I found Yes Bebe I couldn’t find anything in this category that would keep the family acceptably clean without potentially damaging the wider eco-system. I started growing my own “organic” fruit and veg in 2012 before I fell pregnant, and believed from the start in using our dishwashing and bath water to water the plants – something I could not do with popular or supermarket brands of soap or detergent. Not to mention that my kids and husband are all somewhat sensitive to fragrance and start sneezing if they so much as smell commercial laundry powders (a problem I never have with Violets)…

But until this year I had sort of accepted plastic as a necessity of modern life. I hadn’t really thought about what happened to it after I had finished with it – we threw it in the recycling and it got recycled, right? I had no idea about the limitations of plastic recycling, had never thought about microplastics or microfibres getting into the water table.

one green bottle zero-waste

Once Christmas was over I started planning our next steps in earnest. I ordered a family of OGBs from Yes Bebe, alongside a couple of stainless steel lunchboxes for the sole purpose of bringing food home from the butcher’s. I found out which milkman delivered locally and started booking in regularly. We made a chart and stuck it on our fridge, writing in where we found plastic-free alternatives or which brands were plastic-free. We also made a note of those who had plastic packaging hidden inside a cardboard box, or even used plastic-lined paper which looked like waxed but, in fact, wasn’t (I’m looking at you, Weetabix!)

We also made a note of which products were proving difficult or even impossible to source. Cheese remains a problem, and I have been known to go to the cheese counter in local supermarkets and buy an entire waxed wheel to avoid having to buy pre-packaged portions. Yoghurt we overcame by making it ourselves; a simple if slow process (although slow does not mean time-consuming or labour-intensive – there’s just a lot of leaving it to do its thing!). Bread, we also found difficult, as all our local bakeries bag theirs up before it hits the shop floor – but we overcame this by investing in a bread machine which we use EVERY DAY and fills the house with the most inviting smell.

Fresh fruit and veg are bought weekly from our local greengrocer, who has become accustomed to me turning up with my own produce bags and has even reintroduced paper bags as an option after a conversation we shared back in spring. Meat is bought from the farm shop where we not only take our own containers, but are greeted with a blackboard that tells us exactly how few miles our meat has travelled before we buy. Double cream and creme fraiche are bought in glass jars, and frozen fruit and veg are bought out of huge chest freezers, scooped into our own containers each week.

One thing we really miss out on is a zero-waste bulk-buy shop where we might source wholegrains, pulses, rice, pasta etc. Before we went plastic-free we ate a lot of wholegrains – brown rice, wholewheat pasta and so forth… As we have been unable to source plastic-free carbs, we compromise by buying in the largest quantities we can. Unfortunately, all the bulk bags I have been able to find have contained white pasta and white rice – a little better for the planet but far worse for our guts! This is top on our list of things to tackle in coming months.

bok

And what of our other waste? We are lucky that our council offer a really good recycling service which includes paper, cardboard, all cans/tins and glass. They don’t take plastic bags or batteries, which we instead take to recycling points at the supermarket ourselves, or any food waste, which we have plenty of with a toddler in the house! So we compost what we can, and bokashi the rest! I LOVE bokashi – being able to put all that food waste back into our garden and knowing that it is benefitting the vegetable patch is a great comfort to me, and almost displaces the guilt I feel at wasting that food in the first place…

We still have a LONG way to go to become truly zero-waste, but I do feel we’ve come along way already this year. And although it is true that businesses themselves need to start playing their part in caring for the planet, I believe it still matters what choices we make as individuals. For me, going zero-waste is about more than just cutting down on plastic. It’s about slowing down in everything that we do. It’s about stepping outside of the convenience bubble and recognising the constraints that “convenience” places upon us – and the freedom inconvenience offers in its place. It’s about reconnecting with everything from the earth to our children. And it’s about getting back a sense of perspective with regards to what really matters, the cycle of life and living, the holistic nature of existence. For me personally, going zero-waste began as a back-lash against commercialism that I suppose I often feel immediately after Christmas, but has become something much more spiritual. It has become a path back to who we are and where we fit in the world. And it matters!

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Non-plastic = ocean fantastic

  • Between 5m and 13m tonnes of plastic leaks into the oceans each year
  • By 2050 the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight
  • Those who eat seafood ingest up to 11,000 pieces of microplastic a year

(Source: The Ellen MacArthur Foundation)

We all know plastics are bad for the oceans, and we all know that refusing a plastic bag at the checkout or a straw at the bar can help us do our bit for marine life. But what if we want to do more? Here are some simple swaps to help you save even more plastic from going to landfill…

Plastic-free bathroom:

plastic-free, deodorant

Deodorant

Organic Confidence deodorant shuts down odor causing bacteria with baking soda and organic coconut oil. It is gentle, effective and made using USDA-certified organic ingredients. But most importanty, it comes in a recycleable paper tube. No more plastic containers going to landfill, breaking down into microplastics and leaching into the water table, and eventually polluting our oceans.

Bamboo toothbrushes 

Did you know that every plastic toothbrush you have ever used still exists somewhere? It’s a horrible thought! Bamboo toothbrushes like those by Hydrophil are far better for everyone. For the little ones, these biodegradable and compostable Jack N Jill toothbrushes are a great alternative. For plastic-free floss, give Georganics a try.

plastic-free periodCloth Sanitary Protection 

Approximately 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million sanitary towels are flushed down the toilet in the UK every single day. (Statistics from in the Journal of the Institution of Environmental Sciences.) When you consider that each pad can take 500 years to break down – and by “break down” we mean disintegrate into microplastics – and the average woman will use 11,000 in her lifetime, you get an insight into just how big a problem this is. It’s now easy to have a plastic-free period by opting for eco-friendly alternatives.

Plastic-free nursery:

Cloth nappies and wipes

baba + boo tree frog nappyIt is true that the laundering of cloth nappies has a carbon footprint. But it is now widely acknowledged that this is a drop in the ocean when compared to the environmental costs of producing and disposing of disposables. The production of disposables alone uses 3.5 times more energy, 8.3 times more non-renewable resources, and 90 times more renewable resources than real nappies. The average nappy takes between 250 and 500 years to degrade, all the while seeping microplastics, bacteria and harmful chemicals into our earth and oceans. As for wipes – which also contain plastic, by the way – in 2017 they came in at #7 in the top ten items found by beach-cleaners. This is a very real problem.

All seem like good reasons to invest in real nappy alternatives!

plastic-free badger balm

Plastic-free nappy changes

Badger Balm Chamomile and Calendula balm contains no  harsh chemicals, synthetics, fragrance, parabens, GMOs, or anything else you wouldn’t want on a baby! AND it comes in a tiny tin with a cardboard sleeve – no plastics in sight!

Plastic-free toybox:

More and more of us are switching to choose open-ended wooden toys, and for good reason – they are better for our children’s development, encouraging imaginative play and discovery through exploration, building resilience and critical-thinking. But there are also environmental considerations at play here. In North America, 90% of toys are plastic and the majority are simply not recyclable, so destined for landfill. There are exceptions to these: Green Toys are made from 100% recycled plastics with replacement parts readily available to ensure your already-recycled toys will last as long as possible.

Wooden toys are often more costly than plastic toys, but in my experience, they also last longer on two levels: 1) As heirloom pieces, that can be boxed up and kept for future generations without any fear that the plastics will be degrading when they are next put to play; and 2) As cross-age, even cross-generational pieces that can be played with by, for example, my 1-year-old, my 5-year-olds, my teenaged niece and myself, alike! While I found our plastic toys were quickly boxed up and put away as soon as they were “no longer age-appropriate”, our Grimms, Grapat and Raduga Grez are permanently out and consistently played with. So many brands  – Ocamora, Black’s Toys, Gluckscafer to name a few – produce amazing open-ended toys that won’t lose their play value as long as your children have imagination. Even my autistic spectrum son, who has struggled in the past with “imaginative” play loves the order of creating a mandala with grapat pieces, or building with the rainbow pieces, and now creates whole playscapes with boundless imagination. SHOP TOYS

Plastic-free everywhere!

BYOB: Reusable drink bottles

The average person in the UK will use 150 single use water bottles every year – that’s 13 billion each year to be chucked away. But how do they end up in our oceans? Well, they are quite light, so often get blown into streams and rivers, which naturally lead to the sea. Our landfills are overflowing, increasing the potential for lighter plastics to “escape” this way. Much of our plastic used to be shipped to China to be recycled in poorly-organised recycling plants, providing opportunity for yet more “lost” bottles, either on the open oceans or into the waterways at the far end, where it is now thought much of the plastic sent to be recycled was, in fact, incinerated or dumped.

That’s where reusable drinks bottles can really make a difference. There’s one for every pocket and one for every style, and if you are looking for an entirely plastic-free option – there’s one for you too!

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