Tag Archives: sustainability

Part of a nappy stash

Cloth Nappies – the Full Crunchy

I’m sure it will surprise no-one to hear that we use cloth nappies. They reduce landfill, save money and are all round more environmentally friendly options.  Here is a great article from Which? describing the circumstances under which reusable nappies are 40% better for the environment (unless you use a tumble drier, but I’ve never needed to.)

Part of a mighty nappy stash

I thought I’d pop down a few thoughts on them and how we do it in case anyone is interested.  I’m not really trying to persuade people either way though.  In fact I get sick of all the baby advice articles. Especially those titled “the top 10 baby essentials”, or “the 10 baby items I bought and never used”.  Because whilst I think cloth nappies are better for the environment I think that all parenting choices only come down to two things – does it work for your baby and does it work for you.

Since every parent and every baby is completely different I just don’t see how the top 10 anything can be so universal. My favourite baby advice articles are 1) those which teach you how to find out enough about you and your baby in order to make the right choices and 2) those which freely give hints and tips without making judgements.

We have found reusable nappies to be pretty simple and hugely money saving! But it has only been successful for our circumstances because –

1. We had a lot of practical support and advice from an experienced friend – including many hand me down nappies to get us started.

2. We could afford the start up costs for cloth nappies. We’ve spent about £250 in total on nappies from birth to potty (mostly second hand thanks to Ebay!). You can do it cheaper – we have chosen to have a lot of spare nappies in case of emergencies. I wanted to make sure we weren’t running on fumes at any point.  A significant chunk of money this was used to buy cloth night nappies as normal cloth nappies wouldn’t do it and the only nappies which were absorbent enough were not available second hand.

3.  We have a very easy going and sleepy baby (now an easy going and still pretty sleepy toddler).  Anything else and we could easily have been too frazzled to make it work.

4. We have a lot of space in our house/garden – and cloth nappies need space to dry.  In Summer this is easier than Winter and both are easier than Autumn/Spring.  Why are Autumn/Spring so bad… it is too rainy to put the nappies outside and too warm to put the central heating on.  Drying a bamboo nappy takes AGES under these conditions… that is why we have so many nappies.

5. We both work from home and we both work part time. There is always someone available to take 10 mins to hang out a washing load or put one on.

6. We have solar panels (told you we were crunchy!) and a really energy efficient washing machine.  Any increase in energy use due to the washing machine being on a lot is offset somewhat by the solar energy savings and the more efficient appliance. We only do full washing loads to save energy and it is perfectly ok to put nappies in with your other clothes.

The most important thing I discovered in over a year of doing cloth nappies… most people use far too much washing powder/liquid in their machines.  If you use too much powder in a nappy wash then bad, bad things will happen, so you only use about 1 level tablespoon per wash.  If 1 tablespoon of powder and a 40 degree wash can get poo out of a nappy, then 1 tablespoon will get sweat out of a t-shirt.  Since we started this our washing powder consumption has dropped so much that we use less than 2 boxes of Ecover powder per year.  Much less than we used before we starting washing all those nappies.

If you are still interested after all that then you can get a free consultation from the Nappy Lady here – worthwhile as one size of nappy won’t fit every child. We didn’t buy many new nappies – but thanks to her advice the ones we got were perfect.

Cloth Nappy Tree is also a very helpful community if you need any extra support and they have a great second hand sale section on the site.

Mending, Mending, Mending

I’m having one of those months where the pile of mending is definitely growing faster than I can manage it.  Which has got me to thinking about mending a lot…

So far I’ve finished:

1. Sewing a busted seam on R’s swimming costume

2. Sewing a busted seam on R’s PJs

3. Sewing two busted seams on Josh’s green cabled  jumper

4. Sewing a busted seam on my PJ bottoms

(Sensing a Theme right!)

5. Darned 4 socks with about 8 to go more holely socks.

6. Invisible mending on my best jeans 3 times (and they have just blown a forth hole – totally my fault, I thought that my last patch was too close to the hole, turns out… it was!)

Which leaves darning my lightweight Spring jumper, sewing a seam on R’s duffle coat, patching my other PJ trousers, patching Josh’s black jeans, patching my combat trousers and patching another PJ top of mine.  Oh and probably a whole load of horrors lurking that I haven’t found yet.

Most of these items I’ve had for years (that PJ top, did about 20 years hard service in my normal wardrobe first! before it got downgraded to PJs). Sometimes I bought them second hand expecting a fair amount of wear and tear in them. But others, like R’s duffle coat were brand new – worn once or twice at most before the seams split. These were not cheap throwaway clothes from Primark or Tesco but brands you would think better of like Marks and Spencer. There is only so many times I can mend those items before it gets me down.

If you are reading this blog then I probably don’t have to tell you why I’m mending.  But just in case… the short story is that I don’t believe in throwing away useful things, I don’t really care if people see me wearing patched jeans (because I’m lucky enough that any judgement they make doesn’t really affect me) and I don’t want to waste money buying clothes I don’t need.  But it is exhausting sometimes.  I don’t really mind mending all the socks – I knitted them in the first place and the mending maintenance is expected (socks often last several years round here before a darn is needed) – but I am angry that brand new clothes seem to fall apart with a harsh look. Believe me it isn’t because I’m washing them at 60 degrees!

I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this post – I think it is a shame people don’t mend clothes much anymore but part of me empathises with them, mending is endless with the poorly constructed garments available today.

I’m just going to drop a few useful links on mending down here – to make this post slightly more useful and slightly less like I’m just having a rant for no reason 😉

– There is a huge amount of amazing resources in Jen’s Make Do and Mend website here.

Repair Cafe, a fantastic movement which is connecting people who can mend with people who need mending to happen!

This is the you tube video which taught me to darn socks about 7 years ago (it is still a great video and the only technique I use).

Summer Trousers Completed!

For some months now I’ve been trying to finish some lightweight summer trousers for R.

A trio of summer trousers.

A trio of summer trousers.

[Did you spot the upside down patten on the front pair – too late to change it now!]

As we use cloth nappies (probably another post on it’s own!) his little baby bottom is much bigger than normal. Modern clothing is cut for thin disposable nappies, not bulky cloth and so he used to grow out of thing really fast without really growing that much. So I knew at some point that I’d want to sew a few clothes for him.

My other bugbear is colours.  Even at this young age children are beginning to get colour-coded.  We work hard to ensure R enjoys a range of colours, blue to pink and everything in between – but the older he gets the more mud coloured and navy the options become. If I made some of his clothes I can give him the colour which is obviously far too daring for a 10 month old.

I use this wonderful pattern by Rae: http://www.made-by-rae.com/2010/08/big-butt-baby-pants-sewing-pattern/

It was clear, easy to follow and any problems in the execution (upside down owl leg) are mine not her pattern’s fault!

Did you say an owl on my bottom, where?

Did you say an owl on my bottom, where?

There is a 4th pair waiting to be elasticated and after that I’ve two more projects I want to try (these are both free unlike the above):

http://prudentbaby.com/2012/01/baby-kid/shirt-sleeves-into-toddler-harem-pants/ – I have a bunch of sleeves cut off men’s shirts from when I made a circle skirt (out of men’s shirts), I reckon this is a cool way to use them up.

Secondly there is Mini-magpie’s amazing tutorial on turning an old jumper into toddler trousers.  One of my old work jumpers has developed a hole is probably isn’t worth fixing so…

http://minimagpie.com/HOWTO

it will be turned into a pair of purple trousers for the Autumn.

The rest of the weekend has been mixed so far, new pigs are arriving tomorrow so we’ve been busy for the last two days, putting in a new fence, cleaning the hutch and cutting back the grass from the fence (so it doesn’t short out the electrics).  In the process of this hard work I was clearing a tussock only to discover it was also an ants nest… ouch!

Circle beds are so far mixed, I am getting some nice growth in them and they are easy to weed.  Unfortunately they also look like comfortable cat toilets so I’ve lost half my carrots already. Life of a gardener I guess.