Want to be a greener parent? It all starts with your baby’s butt. Kate Farr takes a closer look at the new generation of reusable diapers.
Hong Kong – with its near-capacity landfills – is facing a diaper disaster. With an average disposable nappy taking up to 500 years to decompose, and the average child using 6,000 (weighing a literal ton) before they’re toilet trained, many parents are keen to explore alternative options that are easier on both the planet and their wallets.
After receiving compliments on her son’s cute cloth nappies, Gaëlle Wizenberg realised that there was a gap in the market for a stylish nappy for modern families, and so Charlie Banana was born. This home-grown Hong Kong brand is now a global success story that’s taken the cloth-diapering world by storm.
But for families looking to keep costs down, aren’t reusables an expensive luxury? Gaëlle explains that while the initial outlay can be intimidating, you’ll actually save money long-term. “Cloth diapering will actually reduce your costs by approximately half. You need just 24 nappies – at an initial investment of around $3,900 for Charlie Banana products – plus laundering costs of around $3,300. That’s a total cost of around $7,200 until potty training. In comparison, 6,000 disposables over the same period will cost $15,000 or more”.
So there are attractive savings to be made, but what about the hassle? On this, Gaëlle is refreshingly matter-of-fact, “Whatever type of diapers you use, you’ll still have to wipe bums and face the smell! What’s the big deal to throw poo into a toilet instead of a bin?”. And it seems that local parents are in agreement, “Hong Kong parents want healthy products for their children; and with pollution being such an issue here, everyone wants to make a difference. Each year we see cloth diapers becoming increasingly popular, with more stores stocking larger selections”.
Gaëlle’s top tips for cloth newbies
–Start with 24 nappies, and increase your stash if you feel you need more.
–Disposable liners can be useful for occasional use, such as on long plane rides or when staying with grandparents.
–Choose your detergent wisely. Chemicals and detergent residue may cause rashes and eczema and can also make cloth nappies leak. Steer clear of enzymes, bleach activators, anti-redeposition agents, optical brighteners and perfumes.
–Avoid nappy creams and fabric softener as they will coat fibres, causing liners to repel, rather than absorb liquids.
–There’s no need to use very hot water or bleach to clean your nappies as this will affect the lamination of the outer shell and cause straps to lose their elasticity.
-Where possible, dry your nappies in the sun as this has a natural bleaching effect. You can also add a little white vinegar or lemon juice to remove stains.
Want to give reusable nappies a go? Here’s where to buy.
Charlie Banana has a wide range of colourful, cute and – most importantly – comfortable one-piece nappies and accessories, including inserts, diaper pails and nappy-friendly detergents. With a one-size bra strap design that ensures a great fit around the legs and both washable and disposable inserts available, Charlie Bananas are designed to make your first forays into cloth stress-free. The brand also works with environmental and children’s charities for additional ethical points.
Costs $170, with six-packs available for around $900. Buy online at charliebanana.com or in store at Bumps to Babes.
Hailing from the UK, Bambino Mio offers two one-size-fits-all options; the all-in-one Miosolo and the two-piece Miosoft that comprises a liner and a waterproof outer cover. Featuring pretty prints and easy Velcro fastenings, these are a great grab-and-go choice for mums on the run.
The Miosolo line is $299 for one nappy. Available from Babies R Us and Annerley. 17/F, Tak Woo House, 17-19 D’Aguilar St., Central, 2983-1558, www.annerley.com.hk.
Offering cloth and biodegradable disposable inserts, the Grovia hybrid nappy is a convenient option when you’re out and about. The “soaker pad” inserts all come with a waterproof backing, meaning that a quick change is a mess-free experience for all, while the printed outer shells are designed to be worn at least twice before each wash.
$178 each. Available from Tiny Footprints, 10/F, 1 Duddell St., Central, 2522-2466, tinyfootprints.com.
Ignore the cutesy name; Fuzzi Buns are a hardworking, fully adjustable nappy that will take you through the first year and beyond. Comes with organic or hemp inserts and a selection of contemporary prints.
$99. Available from Little Whale, Shop B, Basement, 61 Caine Rd., Mid-Levels, 6310-7074, www.littlewhale.com.hk.