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.

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What is a Two Part Cloth Nappy and How do I use one?

All cloth nappies are made up of two components:

  • An absorbent part
  • A waterproof or water resistant part

As the name may suggest in a Two Part  cloth nappy these components are separate entities. They are not attached to each other in any way.

The absorbent part can be either a ‘flat’ nappy such as a Terry square, Prefold or a simple long absorbent soaker . Or it can be a ‘fitted’ nappy which is shaped to fit the baby and fastens together, coming in various sizes.  Another possibility is a disposable soaker.

Over the top, in order to contain the absorbent part and stop clothes getting wet you need a ‘wrap’ or ‘cover’. These are usually made from PUL (a waterproof material), shaped, size adjustable and fastened by hook and loop or snaps. There are also fleece and wool covers available, again in a shaped style or as a pull-up.

Depending on the combination you use you will either put your absorbent part on first followed by the cover or you will lay your absorbent part on top of the gusset part of the cover and put on baby together.

The Two Part cloth nappy combination is usually regarded as best for containment and maximum absorbency. You can boost the absorbency without compromising on the fit  by adding more layers beneath the wrap.

The wrap or cover will dry faster than the absorbent part meaning that you can use again sooner and therefore need less. They are often the cheapest system to buy.

They do require a little more time to use which can be a negative. A Two Part system is very popular for night time use or for children with a larger output.

To browse Two Part cloth nappies click here

What is a Pocket Cloth Nappy and How do I use one?

All cloth nappies are made up of two components:

  • An absorbent part
  • A waterproof or water resistant part

In a pocket cloth nappy those components are separate items. The waterproof part is a shell with an inner layer usually made of fleece sewn inside leaving one or both ends open to create a pocket. Inside the pocket you put your absorbent inserts.

Each pocket will be bought with one or more inserts. You can use one, two or more inserts in the pocket in a variety of materials to create the required absorbency for your child.

The pocket shell and inserts are dried separately, with the shell drying much faster. You can therefore use it again sooner if you have spare inserts. There is a small amount of preparation needed for each use in putting the inserts into the pocket, for some this is an annoyance. However, once prepared, when you put them on they are very simple.

You will find pocket nappies in hook and loop or snap closure and in all sizes.

To browse Pocket Nappies click here

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.

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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

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.

What is an All In One Cloth Nappy and How do I use it?

All cloth nappies are made up of two components.

  • An absorbent part
  • A waterproof or water resistant part

In the case of an All In One nappy both of those parts are permanently attached or sewn together. You put them on as one piece, wash them as one piece and dry them as one piece. You can see that in this picture of the absorbent and waterproof parts that they are sewn together. Some have absorbent parts that are removeable by snaps but even when removed there is still a complete nappy system remaining.

In some All In One nappies, like this one, the absorbent part is visible and lays on top, in others it sits inside under a lining. In most, they fold out to increase  the drying speed. You will find All in One’s in both hook and loop and snap closure and in all sizes.

These nappies are most simple and easiest to use type of cloth nappy, popular with child care providers.  Disadvantages include length of drying time, the precision and care needed when fitting and possibly less scope for customisation and boosting.

To browse various options click here

 

 

How many Cloth Nappies should I buy and How do I prepare them for use?

Many people begin to use cloth nappies part time or as and when it’s convenient. This is GREAT because it allows time to adjust and work out what suits your baby and family routine and what doesn’t.

If you want to use full time straight away or increasing your use from part time you will be wondering how many cloth nappies you need. Consider a few factors:

  • The age of your baby, newborns require changing much more frequently than older babies and toddlers, including throughout the night.
  • The frequency you will be washing. Most people like to wash every second day but for others washing every third day, or every day is convenient.
  • The type of nappy you use. You will not need as many wraps or covers as you do absorbent inner parts for example

You will need to allow for nappies to be dirty and waiting for the wash, others being washed and dried and the ones that are clean and ready for use. For most people changing 5 times a day (including night) this means they will need 15 plus a few spare. 20 is a great number to work with.

Once you have your nappies you will need to prepare them for use. Consult the manufacturer guidelines for their specific advice. A common preparation is to wash the nappies once with your usual detergent (provided it doesn’t contradict the manufacturer guidelines). This ensures any factory residue or loose fibres are removed.

Absorbent materials get more able to hold liquid inside their fibres the more they are washed. You can run the absorbent parts of your nappy through a few short washes (no need for detergent) to maximise their capability before use. There is no need to do this for wraps or the pocket shells of course. Skipping this step just means that you may want to boost your nappies for the first few uses until they are fully functioning.

Nappies can then be dried and prepared as necessary for use!

How many cloth nappies you own is completely up to you but selecting an amount that means you can use them successfully is key.

My 10 Zero Waste Swaps

It can sometimes be a bit overwhelming knowing where to start with reducing waste and doing your bit to help the environment. So here’s some simple swaps that I have found useful in my journey to zero waste.

  1. CLOTH NAPPIES – This was our first change and got some great help from our local nappy library who gave us a kit to borrow and ongoing advice to make it work for us.
  2. REUSABLE WIPES – Following on from cloth nappies, we made the change to cloth wipes. We use them for everything from wiping bums to cleaning kitchen worktops. The uses are endless and I love the feeling of saving so many wipes from landfill.
  3. LOCAL MARKET -This was a move on reducing waste/packaging, supporting local business and saving us some pennies. We are lucky to have a brilliant market not far away, and it has become a feature of the week. It’s also been lovely to get to know the people that run the stalls. We take the mesh produce bags to put things like potatoes and mushrooms in, and the rest just go straight in a bag for life.
  4. SAYING NO TO PLASTIC BAGS – We do still shop in a supermarket, so remembering to take our bag for life with us is a must, and it means I only need one or two rather than 5 or 6 plastic bags. I recommend leaving bags in the car at all times, as there is bound to be an occasion when I might forget.
  5. TOOTHPASTE -This has been one of our most recent changes. It is a bit of a mindfield as most of the plastic free options are also fluoride free. Therefore it may not be suitable for everyone. We are trying out Georganics mandarin toothpaste as it is also suitable for children. We are getting on well with it so far, and when we are done, the pot will be used for something else.
  6. DEODORANT – I think this is one that is beneficial both to myself and the environment. Our skin is gentle and sensitive and since learning about the chemicals they put in conventional deodorant, I wanted something natural and kind to my skin. There are many zero waste options, but one I like is the organic essence as they come in a cardboard tube and have a gentle smell. It is also kinder in its manufacturing then regular deodorant.
  7. DRINKS BOTTLES – This swap has been a relatively easy one, and means that I no longer need to buy bottled water when out and about. Lots of places will fill up your bottle if you run out, and there are lots of options to suit what you need.
  8. HOME COOKING – We wanted to start eating healthier to set a good example to my daughter, so we started cooking from scratch, using ingredients from the local market and supermarket. This in turn means that we aren’t using as much prepackaged food, reducing the amount of waste, and we are then able to use leftovers for lunches. It doesn’t always mean it takes ages to do either, we have found ways to do quick dinners when needed.
  9. WOODEN TOYS – We decided to go down the road of wooden and ethically produced toys for my daughter. It has many benefits in that it supports small businesses, it supports natural development and naturally reduces the amount of plastic that we consume. Wooden toys are very well made and will last generations compared to most mass produced toys. They don’t have to be expensive either.
  10. REUSING – I have found that on my journey I have started to think more about what I am using and throwing away. So before I throw something out, or buy something new, I think about what I already have that I can use for that purpose, or how I can reuse the item. For example, we use a chunk of wood as a soap dish, a bottle box as a pencil box and we use old toothbrushes for cleaning. It is sometimes quite fun to think about the uses we can come up for something.

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!