What’s on your botty?

I’d like if I may, to tell a little tale about the conscientious environmentally aware parent and their hunt for a more environmentally friendly method of poo disposal for their little one.

When Little Penguin came along I’ll be the first to admit that we as parents probably did exactly what the vast majority of parents do. It was a whiz around Mothercare for various items followed by the steady routine of purchasing the various paraphernalia of associated accessories that go along with the rearing of small persons in modern day Britain.

Part and parcel of these is the procurement of nappies. I’ll be the first to admit it was a straight choice between disposables and terry towels of which Mrs Penguin certainly didn’t fancy the prospect of the terry towel option so like millions of other parents it was off for some disposables. Sometimes Huggies, sometimes Pampers but there really isn’t a great deal of choice out there spare the few own-brand versions.

About 18 months down the line having contributed no end to our countries ever increasing landfill problems I by chance came across the the Real Nappies Campaign and I started a bit of a personal crusade. It wasn’t going to affect Little Penguin but were a Littler Penguin to come along then the desire was definitely there to do something different second time around.

When Littler Penguin popped out last month there really wasn’t much choice, being premature and relatively tiny there was only the option of those ‘size 0’ disposable nappies which worried me that we were going down the same path once again.

So a couple of weeks ago I took it upon myself to undertake a bit of a mission. Checked out the Real Nappy Campaign website for local stockists of reusable nappy solutions and headed off to Wolverhampton. The likely contenders listed were the obvious Mothercare, Boots and Waitrose.

First stop was Mothercare who do their own line in reusable nappies. It’s a complete system but having done a bit of totting up in my head the prices didn’t seem any more favourable than using disposables and much as I’d like to think it was purely an environmental concern at heart, I’d rather have preferred there to be a financial payoff as well. That said and this purely my own personal opinion, I didn’t much like the look of the Mothercare system either but it was all they had to offer.

So off I trundled to Boots who had nothing more than a couple of terry towels which wasn’t going to fly with the missus. Thinking that my last option was Waitrose and not being particularly up for a hike up the Penn Road I decided to get on the phone.

There are times in life when an internet enabled phone coupled with Google Search/Maps comes in very handy and this was one such time.

I spoke to a few of the other people listed on the Real Nappy Campaign site who mainly seemed to be home based suppliers but got some good advice, some of which was not to bother hiking to Waitrose. I talked a bit and finally came up with the kind of system I had in mind and was advised that the Bambino Mio range was probably my best option.

Sadly though no one knew a local outlet but going through the list I came across a store in Walsall called Kiddisave which for those with local knowledge is the place behind Woolworths with all the prams in the window.

Gave them a call and they had the Bambino Mio range in so off I toddled to Walsall very much to the annoyance of Mrs Penguin who I’d promised I’d only be out for an hour or so but t’was a trip worth making it was.

In the end I opted for one of the packs that contain three nappy outers, 12 cotton nappies and picked up a pack of the wraps and anti-bacterial washing stuff to boot. Cost about £50 all together which is a bit of a psychological barrier but when you consider the only part that needs buying again, the wraps, which are a fiver for 200. (the washing stuff will also need purchasing again but by the looks of it will last for a year).

The wraps also comprise the only disposable element of the system and are fully biodegradable and toilet flushable which is what we wanted.


So now we’re on to Bambino Mio’s which despite the name sounding decidedly Italian are actually a company from Northamptonshire so we can be equally content that we’re buying British as well. (to be precise the outers say made in the EU, and the wraps say ‘converted in the UK’ but to be fair, we don’t exactly grow much cotton in the UK so somewhere along the line something comes from afar but that’s good enough for me as it’s a UK based company that’s making the profit)

We’re not totally converted as of yet, it took a bit of learning and trial and error to get the folding and wrapping right and at nights we’ll still use some disposables for reasons that fellow parents will now but the principle is there and the bin is considerably less full on collection day than it was a few weeks ago.

If anything though, this little episode has taught me something. We’re using this kind of reusable system, not because there was a big fanfare of marketing aimed at us. Not because there was information about it in those packs that they give you at hospital when you’re going through the whole pregnancy thing (although there’s plenty of marketing in those packs for Pampers) but because out of pure bloody-mindedness it was something that we wanted to try. The problem is that to get to that point it took effort, research, asking around which I’m going to hazard a guess that most parents won’t be bothered with on the arrival of a little one as there’s far more important stuff to do.

When local authorities consider the cost of landfill tax then it would surely follow that they would have a strong vested interest in trying to make people aware of how they can use something other than disposables and it also figures that as at some point every parent has to visit said local authority to register the birth then some sort of information pack or even voucher scheme handed out at this point seems the most logical.

I’ll just add that yes, some local authorities do runs schemes along the lines of giving one-off payments of anything up to £70 on production of receipts for the purchase of reusable nappy systems. The only local one to these parts is Wolverhampton although we’ll see how long that lasts under the new Tory/LibDem alliance.