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advice Nappies

Don’t bleach your nappies…

Don't bleach your nappiesWhen my eldest child was a baby, my mum came to stay because I was unwell. One afternoon she popped into my bedroom to bring my son for a feed and cheerfully told me she washed my nappies for me. However, she said, that the wash hadn’t got the green out of the nappies that had gone a green colour, so she’d put them on to soak in Milton. I was horrified! For a start, my nappies were supposed to be green, I’d bought beautiful mint green fitteds from a WAHM, and secondly, bleach isn’t good for nappy elastics. My mum had been used to soaking terry squares in napisan, boiling them if they were still stained and hot washing, but she didn’t understand modern cloth nappies. A few washes after the soaking incident and my beautiful, (no longer) mint green, hand made fitteds fell to pieces at the legs where the elastic perished.

Recently, a group on social media has been advocating that people wash their nappies in toilet bleach. Yikes!

Washing nappies in toilet bleach is not recommended for a number of reasons. Firstly, toilet bleach is not skin-safe. It’s covered in warnings about not letting it come into contact with your skin. Do you really want something washed in toilet bleach next to your child’s most sensitive areas? Secondly, it’s not fabric safe. It will almost certainly take the colour out of most fabrics (even milton left a purple t-shirt horribly spotted when I was spot treating mildew and spilled a highly diluted form recently). It will also rot delicate fabrics like elastic. Finally, it will invalidate your warranty on most cloth nappy products.

So what do you do if you need to get your nappies really clean? It partly depends why you need to do it in the first place. A good wash routine will prevent most unpleasant smells, Go Real has the guidelines for good washing here . If you buy second hand nappies that are stained or smelly, then that link has some suggestions for strip washing, or these tips here could help. I’m a huge fan of a 60 degree wash with a full does of washing powder and scoop of Little Violets stain remover. General stain removing is best achieved with sunlight.

So please, when you are going to wash your nappies, think twice before using toilet bleach!

Categories
advice Nappies

Help! My nappies are stained…

I have lost track over the years of the number of people who return cloth nappy trial kits to me stained with breastfed baby poo. For those not familiar, I’m talking chicken korma yellow, persistant staining. Some are embarrassed, some don’t mention it, some contact me before the kit is due back to ask how to shift it. I always tell them, it’s easy, just put them in the sun. Outside on your line preferably, but if you really can’t, in a window can help.

Quite often, people are incredulous that something as simple as hanging your nappies on the line can deal with a stain the a long wash in the washing machine cannot. But there is science on our side.

The yellow colour of baby poo comes for them billirubin in bile, and billirubin is broken down by ultraviolet light (which is why jaundiced babies are put on UV beds in hospital). Putting your nappies on the line allows the UV light in sunlight to destroy the billirubin and low and behold, your nappies are white again!

Not only that, but ultraviolet is also used in industry as a powerful anti-bacterial. So not only are your nappies bleached nice and white, any residual bacteria is given a hiding too! (source here)

Below are some before during and after pictures of a variety of stained nappies, before washing, after washing and after hanging on the line in the sun! (All nappies were washed and dried by trial kit customer before returned to me, washed by me at 60 degrees, with a full dose of Simply Washing non-bio powder tabs and a scoop of Bio D nappy fresh).

IMG_20170523_093509000
Tots bots Peenut after being washed by client, but not by me
After washing, before sunning
After washing, before sunning
Totsbots peenut after sunning
Totsbots peenut after sunning
Diddy diaper after washing
Diddy diaper after washing
IMG_20170615_131149198
Diddy diaper after sunning
Tots bots easyfit before washing by me (the gusset at the side should be white!)
Tots bots easyfit before washing by me (the gusset at the side should be white!)
Easyfit after washing
Easyfit after washing
Easyfit after sunning!
Easyfit after sunning!
Categories
environment Nappies

Great Cloth Diaper Change 2017

Pic of happy mums with babies and cloth nappies at Great Cloth Diaper change 2016

What is the Great Cloth Diaper Change? Well, it’s an international event run by the Cloth Diaper Association in the USA, but with events hosted by cloth nappy libraries, businesses and enthusiasts around the world.

The Great Cloth Diaper Change, Newcastle  will be a fun morning, with entertainment for the wee ones, stalls for parents to browse, refreshments and a chance to meet other cloth bum mums. We have entertainment provided by Kalma Baby Newcastle.

We have a raffle, with great prizes supplied from cloth nappy manufacturers and local baby and toddler focussed businesses (if you run a baby related business and want to get involved, let us know!). Oh, and not forgetting special offers from us at Grow Up Green!

Parenting North East sling library will be in attendance and refreshments will be provided by the very yummy Van-Illa Treats 

22nd April 2017

Held at Broadacre House, Market Street, Newcastle, NE1 6HQ

Starts at 10am and finishes at 12pm.

Change happens at 11am prompt!

Free to attend, please register your place here

For more information, check out our facebook page and event www.facebook.com/GCDCNE 

Participants will receive a goody bag and there will be a raffle on the day to win cloth nappies and other baby goodies.

Categories
babywearing slings

Slinging all the way!

babywearing-week-photoFive years ago, whilst pregnant with my third child, I got talking to a sling librarian about cloth nappies. I told her quite cheerfully that I didn’t carry my babies, because “they were just too heavy”. Having had an 8lb8oz first child, and a 10lb8oz second child, I felt I was entirely justified in this statement.

She smiled at me “what carrier do you use?” I answered that I had tried to carry them, in a cheap harness-type carrier and my back hurt after 20 minutes. “It’s not your babies that are the problem,” she said, “It’s your carrier. Come and see me when baby arrives.”

So, I went to see her when my third child was 8 days old. I had a three year old and a 6 year old. I had a school run, a play group drop off and one “those” babies. You know, the ones that cry all the time, won’t be put down and don’t sleep. She fit me with a Calin Bleu fleece stretchy sling. It was the first week of January, it was -2 degrees celsius. The sling saved my sanity. I could pop my tiny little bundle of angst into the warm fluffyness, and walk the other 2 kids to school, I could get on with jobs around the house, I could stand swaying in front of the telly willing him to go to sleep.

When my hire period was up, I found my own stretchy. Then a woven sling, when I wanted to back carry some months later, I switched to buckles, then half buckles as I carried my every growing child. At 3 and a half he discovered a scooter, and I didn’t need to carry him quite so much, and by 4 our baby wearing journey was over.

My love of slings was not. I now help run a sling library and parenting support CIC – Parenting North East, am a School of Babywearing trained Consultant and act as a brand ambassador for Lillebaby UK, as well as retailing a variety of slings. My aim is to help other families find the joy, comfort and ease of carrying children with a decent carrier, one that supports both parent and child. I want parents to find the benefits of babywearing – reduced crying, better sleep, and shopping without hunting for lifts (not forgetting having 2 hands free to Facebook and coffee 😉 )

If you are not already carrying your little ones, I urge you to find your nearest sling library (here’s a place to start sling library map) and try a few on, or drop me a line about the slings I stock and I’ll do my best to help.

I wish I’d discovered slings with my first child, and not my third, but I am still really, really glad I did.

Categories
environment recycle reduce reuse

Why we need Zero Waste Week!

Zero Waste Week logoLast week there was a discussion on a local business forum about the best coffee maker to get for the office. Opinion was divided between various big brands of pod-based coffee machines. I took a deep breath and bravely suggested that none of these were ideal, as they all generated a huge amount single-use plastic waste. Well, you’d have thought I’d criticised someone’s choice of baby name, the reaction I got! It all boiled down to “why should we be challenged on the waste we create?!”

It was ironic that this conversation came just before Zero Waste Week. The point of Zero Waste Week is to encourage everyone to think about the amount of waste they create and think of ways in which they can reduce it, with an ultimate goal of not creating any waste at all. It is a challenge, and challenges are hard!

Sculpture made of WEEE waste
Sculpture made of WEEE waste at the Eden Project

The average UK household produces 1 tonne of waste a year, and alarmingly this amount is increased by 3% every year. We throw away twenty times more plastic than we did 50 years ago. The main reason for the increase is that convenience is prized far higher than sustainability. And yet, it estimated that Britain will run out of landfill in approximately 8 years.

So, this is the reason we DO need to be challenged about the waste we create. I don’t claim to be perfect, I am a long way from being Zero Waste, but I do think about the purchasing choices I make. The waste reduction scale starts with REFUSE, then REDUCE, then REUSE, then RECYCLE and finally landfill, and yet a lot of people think they are doing their best by recycling that which is collected kerb side.

I agree that some of our problems with waste are the cause of companies, who have things such as built in obsolesence, contracts that encourage further purchase etc and these need to be tackled by government and by campaigning, but that doesn’t completely absolve the individual of the need to take responsibility for the products they introduce into the supply chain. I’ve blogged before on easy ways to reduce your waste or even just your single use plastic, but it starts with thinking.

Thinking: “Do I REALLY need this?” “Do I have something else that can do the job?” “Can I source this second hand or borrow it from someone?” “How will I dispose of this when I have finished with it?” “What waste products does this product generate and how will I deal with them?” “How long do I expect to use this product for?” If we all did this, then the amount of waste we produce would reduce, and the land we have be kept for housing, for green spaces, for farming and forestry, not filled with 31 tonnes a year of consumer waste!

So, this Zero Waste Week, what steps are you planning on taking to reduce your waste?

 

Categories
environment reduce

Four easy ways to reduce your plastic (or maybe five!)

#plasticfreejulyIn the exciting world of waste reduction, July is known as Plastic Free July. It’s not a catchy title, but the premise is to see how much you can reduce your use of single use plastic during July. Whilst there are some truly amazing Zero Wasters out there, whose waste for the whole year will fit into matchbox, for most of us, cutting down our plastic use can feel quite terrifying.  Here are 4, maybe 5, easy fixes that reduce your plastic waste.

1. Water bottles. In 2015, the UK population consumed 2,141 million litres of bottled water, an increase of 40% since 2008. Most bottles end up in landfill or downcycled to low grade plastic. Taking a reusable water bottle out with you and refilling it from the tap would save thousands of bottles of water ending up in landfill (if you don’t like tap water, get a filter jug and put it in the fridge and fill you bottle from there);

2. Coffee cups. How often do you get take out coffee? Once a week? Twice a week? 52 – 104 coffee cups a year that end up inreusable coffee cup landfill. Most are plastic coated, with plastic lids. Carrying a reusable coffee cup in your bag is easy. Choose a size that suits the kind of coffee you drink. I’ve been doing this since April and have only had it refused once (by a silly lady in a Costa concession, who said that it needed to be one of their’s!!). I love my reusable cup and can feel suitably smug, walking down the street sipping on it! We have some awesome bamboo ones available here

3. Straws. How many of us think about what happens to our straws. Drinks in the pub, take away soda from the fast food joint, iced coffee, we probably throw away hundreds of non-recyclable straws. Solution? Stainless steel straws – easy to carry in your bag, easy to wash and reuse. I’ve gone one step further and got a reusable soda cup and straw.

4. Produce bags. How often do you have to get those flimsy, polythene bags in supermarkets to put your loose fruit, veg, pastries etc in. These thin, translucent bags often end up in our oceans and get swallowed by sealife. There are a number of options for providing your own. A nappy net makes a good produce bag, a reusable cotton shopping bag, a string bag or a specially purchased reusable produce bag.

So there you have it, the BIG FOUR, as they are known in Zero Waste circles. Any of them take your fancy?

(The fifth is of course cloth nappies – did you know that a cup of crude oil goes into creating the plastic and absorbent gel in every single disposable nappy? Swapping to cloth, especially if you go 2 parts so only changing the plastic (PUL) part of your nappies a couple of times a day, can seriously reduce your plastic consumption!)

Categories
advice environment Nappies

What temperature should I wash my nappies at?

Reason's not to wash your nappies at 90If you spend any time at all on Facebook cloth nappy forums (and for your own sanity I suggest that you don’t), you will be aware that there is a lot of debate out there on how to wash your nappies. Grandparents, remembering terry squares and twin tubs often recommend washing at 90°, the uber-eco conscious recommend 30° and a whole host of other temperatures in between.

Go Real, the reusable nappy campaigning body recommend washing at 60° (there full washing instructions are here http://www.goreal.org.uk/real-nappy-washing-guidelines), as do the UK Cloth Nappy Library Network. The reasons for washing at 60° rather than a lower temperature is that research shows that a good dose of detergent, combined with washing at 60° will kill or remove most bacteria. 30°-40°is very close to body temperature and can encourage bacteria to breed.

Advise to wash at 90° is particularly worrying. The Environment Agency report of 2008 specifically mentioned that washing at 90° was one of the reasons why using cloth can end up being as bad for the environment, whereas washing at 60° or lower reduces the carbon footprint of your nappies (washing a full load and line drying when possible also helps with this – see my blog on whether cloth nappies are actually greener). A very hot wash can also cause your nappies to delaminate (when the waterproof layer comes away from the fabric). I actually had this happen when my husband put the nappies on at the wrong temperature by accident. Finally, from a financial point of view, washing at 90° will invalidate your warranty with the manufacturer. Most manufacturers recommend washing at 60° (and some even as low as 40°) so always check the wash care label on your nappies when washing them!

If you are worried about staining, a cold rinse before washing can help prevent stains from setting.

So remember, wash at 60° or lower to protect your nappies, protect the environment and protect your warranty.

 

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Uncategorised

Great Cloth Diaper Change Newcastle 2016

Great Cloth Diaper Change Newcastle
Courtesy of Emerson Photography

Come help us break an international record for the most cloth nappies changed at the one time. Join a wave of parents across the world who are getting together to change a nappy and change the world.

The Great Cloth Diaper Change, Newcastle  will be a fun morning, with entertainment for the wee ones, stalls for parents to browse, refreshments and a chance to meet other cloth bum mums.

We have a raffle, with great prizes supplied from cloth nappy manufacturers and local baby and toddler focussed businesses.

Parenting North East sling library will be in attendance and refreshments will be provided by the very yummy Van-Illa Treats 

23rd April 2016

Held at Broadacre House, Market Street, Newcastle, NE1 6HQ

Starts at 10am and finishes at 12pm.

Free to attend, please register your place here

For more information, check out our facebook page and event www.facebook.com/GCDCNE 

Participants will receive a goody bag and there will be a raffle on the day to win cloth nappies and other baby goodies.

Categories
environment recycle reduce reuse

Waste Free Lent – Week 4

Copy of Copy of Waste Free Lent

Another week has gone by, and the lessons I have learnt again are that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I really do have to get more organised and remember to take food and drink with me when I go out! I have, however, got into the habit of taking a reusable cup with me everywhere I go and find most places are more than happy to use it. In fact, one place I got coffee from offered me a discount on my coffee for providing my own cup – win!

I’m not going to give you a day by day breakdown this week – last week was so manic I can barely remember what I did when, but I will share some wins and some dilemmas!

Wins: I had both a 40th birthday and Mother’s Day to negotiate this week, but didn’t do too badly on the waste production. For the 40th I bought a couple of knitting pattern books (the birthday girl is obsessed with knitting!) and put in a bottle of my home-made redcurrant gin. For my Mum, I bought a selection of posh tonic waters in glass bottles, and again put in a bottle of my home-made red currant gin. So very little waste. I then reused gift bags I had received for my own birthday a few weeks ago.

The bright spring days have highlighted that I have neglected cleaning my windows over winter! The reason for tIMG_20160304_150848his became clear when I tried to find some glass cleaner and discovered I didn’t have any. Now, in a perfect waste free world, I would use white vinegar and water to clean my windows, but I didn’t even have a spare spray bottle to use to do it. I did, however, have some old stock of Eco2Life spray bottles and refills from when I was a Wikaniko rep. Some were glass cleaners, so I opened one and used it. I was impressed and it smelt better than white vinegar too. I have added the rest to my website at a knock down price, in case you want to try them yourself!

Fails: I am really struggling with buying bananas and coffee. My local supermarket only does Fairtrade bananas in plastic bags. I could drive for half an hour to visit a Sainsbury’s, as ALL their bananas are Fairtrade, the loose ones, the value ones etc.. The only low plastic coffee I can find is also not Fairtrade (although I buy most of our coffee in bulk, the lids of the tins it comes in are still plastic). I am passionate about Fairtrade, I believe those that grow my food and drink should earn a fair wage and have access to education and healthcare. Any tips?

Categories
environment recycle reduce reuse

Waste Free Lent Week 3

Copy of Waste Free Lent (1)Well, we are almost half way through, and I still feel an awfully long way from being waste free! Lots of people and blogs have given me tips, although a fellow waste warrior and mum and I both agreed there was a dearth of blogs written by parents of children, where all adults work outside the home. Lots of the tips seem to involve having the time to do your weekly shop in half a dozen different shops, whilst making pasta from scratch!

There have been some small breakthroughs this week though!

Monday : One of the reasons I am so bad at taking lunch with me when I’m out at work is the perceived amount of time it will take to make it. Monday, though, I was going to a meeting that required me to bring a dish to share. So Sunday evening I made a mixed salad. I knew one of the delegates was vegan, so wanted to take something she could eat. I shredded a red cabbage, finely chopped some celery and made carrot matchsticks with a julienne maker I’d bought thinking it was a potato peeler! I chucked in a handful of raisins and a handful of mixed nuts. Then I made some jam-jar vinaigrette, which I kept in the jam jar until lunchtime. The whole thing took less than 10 minutes and I’d made a tasty, filling and nutritious lunch that had the added advantage of using up some of the veg in the veg bag!

 

Tuesday : I’d made so much of the salad for Monday, that I had plenty left over for lunch today. It made me realise that I could make a big batch of salad at the start of the week and just add different protein and dressings as the week went on for variety. I also did some baking for a sling meet. I discovered I could get “baking fat” in foil blocks rather than plastic tubs, for less money than the marg I had been buying and with the added benefit of it being dairy-free so our milk allergic and vegan parents could have it to!

Wednesday : I realised that I am going to have to drink more tap water. Most of what I choose to drink comes in plastic bottles, and the glass bottled alternatives are a lot more expensive. In addition, we don’t have a milk man, so I have no choice but to get milk in plastic bottles. I can’t give up the milk in my coffee, but I have given up drinking it as a drink, and if I’m thirsty I have a glass of water rather than squash or juice. This will be better for my teeth as well as better for the environment. I do find water a bit bland though, so think I need to experiment with putting fruit in my water bottle.

Thursday : I failed. I was too chicken to use my reusable coffee cup when I got a drink at the park to keep warm! In large chain coffee shops I can ask no problem, as I know my cup is the right size for their medium coffees and as they sell reusable cups for this purpose, I know they don’t mind. This cafe though is a small family owned one and only do coffees in really small cups, I was worried they’d think I was trying to get more coffee than I’d paid for so didn’t ask! 

Friday : Another drinking cup fail. We went to the cinema, and ordering a drink is just a habit. I need to get out of the habit, but also get a reusable soda cup for when I do just fancy a cold drink out and about!

Saturday/Sunday : It was the middle child’s birthday party and I was trying to learn lessons from the plastic filled party her brother had had. We still had some party bags left from her brother’s party, but got foil covered lollies for the sweets, a slice of birthday cake in napkins left from another party. Then we made headbands from a craft kit as part of the party and they went in! I also didn’t buy plastic “party” tableware. Instead, I got my proper tea service out, with matching tea plates, cups and saucers. The kids thought they were having a real treat and the table looked fab, with no waste!

Waste free birthday tea