For the majority of UK parents, the 20th – 26th April 2015 won’t be marked on the family calendar as a special one. But for cloth nappy users and advocates along with us at The Nappy Science Gang (who are both) it’s ‘Real Nappy Week‘. Founded in 1996 (by Go Real) this annual event is used as a platform for providing information, advice and special incentives to start or continue using real nappies.
Those working toward a cultural shift from disposable to cloth nappies are banging their drum this week – quite rightly so considering that over the last year;
- 813,299 babies were born in England and Wales
- 3 billion (355,000 tonnes) of disposable nappies were sent to landfill
- Dealing with these disposables cost local authorities £32,000,000
Though there is much work to be done, the UK is slowly but surely beginning to question whether disposables aren’t a bum deal. Those thinking of giving cloth a try are now spoilt for choice with attention grabbing brands offering bright colours, quirky prints, stylish shapes and innovative new materials that make claims to vastly improve product performance.
We can only learn so much about a nappy at point of purchase though – which is why our work at Nappy Science Gang is so relevant and important. Every cloth nappy using family is unique. We all store, wash, dry and physically use our nappies differently. Many of us also use a mixture of brands (using the outer pocket of one with inserts from another, for example) and although we might read the manufacturers’ official advice, we often swerve or downright disregard it if we find ways of making our stash work better for us.
There are lots of ways to skin this particular cat. Whether chatting to friends or posting in Facebook groups, real nappy users are a generous bunch, enthusiastic about pooling information and advice. Our own experience has often been hard won through trial and error, in order to meet and adapt to a baby’s ever changing (excuse the pun) nappy needs. We also use a process of elimination (excuse the pun) when we come up against real nappy problems – devising our own unofficial experiments to prove our disprove our own theories. Working with professional scientists, Nappy Science Gang will use (accessible) science, to provide some definitive answers to some of the theories and questions that we can currently only debate using anecdotal evidence.
We’re already busy within our fantastically active Facebook group, discussing theories, questions and downright mysteries concerning real nappy use. Discovering that we share many ponderings in common, we’ve already identified some potential avenues to explore, including;
- What’s the best performing material for nappy wraps and covers?
- Whether powder detergent is preferably to liquid?
- Does tumble drying bamboo fabric damage it?
- Just how much money can cloth save you, and what factors affect will vary this amount from family to family?
- Is pre-washing nappies before first use really necessary and, if so, how?
- What type of insert is the most absorbent and why?
- Just what is that mysterious pink tinge / stain that sometimes appears on real nappies and wipes after washing?
Real Nappy Week is the ideal time to thank our almost 300 Facebook group members for their contribution so far and to appeal for other cloth bum addicts and enthusiasts to join a fun but ultimately important process which will uncover the science behind real nappies. We’re looking forward to picking the 3 questions that we’ll go on to answer by designing and conducting our own experiments, done in our own homes. Make sure yours is in the mix before that happens!
Happy Real Nappy Week!
PS, if you are a cloth-nappy user, or just clothnappy-curious, there are loads of special offers on this week. The Nappy Library Network has made a big list of them here, if you fancy saving some pennies.