cloth nappy family
Living with cloth

#19: Small changes can change the world

Becoming a parent was a turning point for Lucy. She could no longer rest on simply being ‘green’; rather, she felt compelled to take responsibility for how her actions would impact on future generations. Cloth nappies are just one of many small, everyday changes she has implemented in her quest to make conscious choices that support where her opinions stand on climate change. She hopes her role modelling results in sustainable choices becoming second nature for her children and that they will continue to learn and evolve, as we all need to if we are to change the course of history.  

Welcome, Lucy @edencottage_

cloth nappy family

Tell us a little about yourself, your family and where you live?

I’m a 30-year-old stay-at-home mum with 2-year-old daughter, Birdie, and 1-year-old son, Bleu. My husband works full time as a chef and we are currently (slowly) renovating an old Queenslander style cottage by the sea

Can you share your favourite part about living where you do?

The beautiful weather and slow way of life.

What are your favourite ways to spend time together as a family?

Spending time in the garden, playing, cooking together and of course eating!

What would you say is your favourite past time?

Gardening and shopping for antiques – I love to learn about history and the old way of life through the activities of yester-year. Old stuff has so much soul.

You have said that gardening is something that you have always come back to during the different stages of your life. Can you explain the importance of gardening to your life?

My dad is an amazing gardener and, as a young girl, I was always happy by his side planting trees, collecting seeds, picking wildflowers for mum on Mother’s Day or for her birthday. My brother and I grew up on national parks and gardening has always helped me to connect back to nature. It also helps me to feel close to my dad again now as an adult. We’ve bonded like that.

You find much joy and peace in everyday tasks. What tips can you share for reaching this ideal with others who do not feel the same way?

Appreciate the little things in life and set small goals. I like to make a little mental to-do list the night before but sometimes the tasks for the next day are really simple like “wipe the bathroom sink down” and if I focus on that and complete it the next day, I feel contentment.

If you could be best in the world at one thing, what would it be and why?

I would like to have solutions for people living in countries with extreme poverty.

What does being a mother mean to you?

Everything.

What kind of mother are you?

One that’s still learning.

What have you learnt about yourself since becoming a mum?

That I’m much more resilient than I ever imagined I could be! Motherhood has also taught me patience, humility and gratitude.

What is something you would like your children to remember about you?

That I sung them to sleep every night and was always there when they needed me … the same things I remember about my own mother as a child.

For what are you grateful to your parents?

That I was raised close to nature and with a strong sense of self.

What is the best thing you think parents can do to ensure a better future for everyone?

Make the small changes today so your children can bring their children into a beautiful world too.

It is often quoted that having children is one of the worst things you can do to the environment. How would you respond to this statement?

I suppose it is, human existence in general certainly has had a very negative effect on the planet and its environment … but the answer is not to blame certain groups of people. I think we need to get back to a time, or perhaps arrive at a time, where we of teach our children how to become caretakers of the earth, not plundering it’s resources.

What is your greatest hope for the future of the world?

That we learn to live in harmony with each other and the planet. It seems impossible but I don’t think it is, I think we have to.

Cloth nappies as a sustainable option for babies

Can you share a little about your journey to living more sustainably?

I have always considered myself a “green” kind of person but, to be honest, the real turning point for me was having children. Becoming a parent made me feel suddenly very accountable not only for my own ways and behaviour but also that of the next generations.

I think that if I can make the seemingly harder changes now and teach my kids while they are still small, it would become second nature to them as they got older.

I’m sure my parents did the same for my brother and I, so we are always still learning and evolving. I think our ability to change and adapt as individuals is what’s most important when it comes to changing the course of the future and the planet.

I’ve used a Keep Cup for years and never been particularly wasteful but I’m guilty of being an impulsive consumer and, in recent years, have tried to shift away from that.

I try to buy only what we need now and I hope to make a difference through inspiring others to make small positive changes using Instagram as a platform.

I think it’s important to remember that no one is the perfect eco poster child and sustainability isn’t a competition. Individuals can only do the best in the circumstances they are given and it’s important to focus on small mindful changes one day at a time.

Accountability is a big thing for me – we need to make the changes we want to see, the people definitely have the power in this situation and no change is ever too small or insignificant. It’s not about looking at other people, other countries and pointing fingers and comparing numbers – sustainability and, ultimately, the longevity of the human race is a common goal.

We’ve just installed solar panels on our roof to offset our fossil fuel power consumption, I only use cold wash in my washing machine, and have never owned a clothes drier.

Regarding our renovations, we are sourcing second hand or using upcycled materials wherever we can. We are also doing a lot of things by hand, repairing things ourselves rather than replacing with new and, as a result, learning new skills as we go. I love it.

This year, you have a goal of working towards plastic-free living. What does this look like for you, and what tips do you have for other families hoping to reach the same ideal?

We are not 100% plastic free but we are working on small improvements every day and have come a long way in a short amount of time.

We have cut down a lot on wasteful packaging and I am more mindful when buying groceries each week; it’s all about progress and not perfection for me.

My only tips are really are to choose one thing, like using a Keep Cup or taking reusable cloth bags to the supermarket instead of putting apples into another green plastic bag, and then once you have mastered that small step and it becomes easy, set your next goal.

Can you share your favourite 5 plastic free products you use in your home?

  1. Cloth nappies.
  2. Reusable shopping bags – I use the smaller fabric bags that brands send their products in for fruit and veg too.
  3. A bamboo toothbrush – although not 100% plastic free, it’s another really easy swap out that has a big negative environmental impact. Every plastic toothbrush you’ve ever owned still exists on this planet in landfill today.
  4. Reusable bamboo baby wipes – they seriously wash like a dream.
  5. Homemade cleaning products that I make from citrus peel from our tree in amber spray bottles.

Can you share one of the most common misconceptions you hear plastic-free living, and how you would respond to this misconception?

That it is impossible! And I don’t believe it is. It’s just a challenge and we need to be more innovative and find clever solutions to make the old ways and practices redundant.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the size of the problems the world is facing and the unpredictable times we are entering into.

What’s the greatest misconception about living sustainably you would like to debunk?

That your choice is either the environment or the economy. The two go hand in hand and one cannot succeed the other. Caring for our environment and preserving our way of life are one and the same fight.

What is your response to the attitude that as one person you cannot make a difference to the world?

One person has all it’s ever taken to change the course of history. Every great idea, notion, revolution, started with just one person’s idea and action.

What small changes do you think every family can make to lessen their impact on the environment?

Give cloth nappies a go. Out of all the changes we’ve made as a family so far, I feel like switching 100% to cloth nappies and reusable wipes has had the biggest impact.

People always ask about the poo! But honestly, it’s no big deal and, if you can change a disposable nappy, you can use cloth. Sometimes we get set in our ways and become lazy, we all need to practice stepping outside of our comfort zone when we can. There will always be special circumstances, but the main thing is that you give things a try and don’t let an attitude define your actions.

Start with one cloth nappy and swap it out on your regular changes once a day. Even that one nappy has a huge environmental impact. It gets easier and easier as you go and the best feeling is not seeing all of those disposables that take 500 years each to decompose pile up in your bin and stink it out every week.

modern cloth nappy in the home

What do you believe to be the greatest benefit of cloth nappies?

Cloth nappies are so much softer and more luxurious on your baby’s skin. They breath better, are more personable to your child and using them will save you a lot of money.

Can you share the beginnings of your cloth journey?

The catalyst for me were the bushfires in January. The discussion of climate change and our impact on the environment really came to a head at the start of 2020 and I felt compelled to make conscious changes that supported where my opinion stood on climate change.

Bleu was nearly 12 months old and Birdie just 2. Despite already using disposables for the last 2 years beforehand, I still believe that we have made a huge positive change in a short amount of time.

Someone suggested to just start with one nappy and swap it out and that’s what we did.

It became easier and more convenient to use the cloth nappies very quickly. We didn’t have to go and buy nappies at the shop anymore. We’ve saved a lot of money and I like that we don’t rely on the shops’ supply, especially considering the recent Coronavirus crisis.

Baby Beehinds have a fantastic overnight nappy that made that part easy too. It’s super absorbent. Leaks still happen, but I had leaks with disposables as well.

If I ever have a question or problem, Leanne (Baby Beehinds) is there on Instagram or via email to offer her support. The cloth world is full of knowledge and supportive mums and dads.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started out with cloth nappies?

How easy they are. I can only say that I wish I started sooner! I’ve never looked back.

Best advice you’ve ever been given about cloth.

It’s ok to use a disposable when you really need one, it doesn’t make you a failure.

What has been the biggest learning on your cloth journey so far?

The washing and drying process and which nappy to use for what. It doesn’t take long to work out your routine, it’s easy.

What are your time management tips for cloth?

I just wash as I go. I’m happy spending time out in the garden anyway so hanging out a couple of loads of nappies is going to drastically alter the day’s events.

Can you describe your process behind organising your cloth supplies?

Wash them well, soak occasional, dry them on the line in the sunshine and the wind, store them in an open basket in the wardrobe.

What has the response to using cloth been like from your support network?

Fantastic. My mum used to use them on my brother and I when we were small and my husband is easy and has learnt alongside me.

Many parents express feelings of overwhelm when considering cloth – what advice do you have for them?

Try one a day and see how you go.

Would you consider getting started with cloth necessarily expensive?

I think if you ordered the 30 that you need for full time cloth all at once, then yes! But you can build as you go like I did – order one or two each month and adopt the same spending habit as you would if you were purchasing disposables. I’ve found it very manageable on a budget.

What do you think needs to happen for more families to use cloth nappies?

We need to see it normalised in the shops. Wouldn’t it be great if big supermarkets started selling cloth alongside disposables instead of hundreds of different disposable brands! People would feel more compelled to give cloth a go instead of feeling like an alternate type.

You are inspiring many more families to be open to reusable nappies and other eco-friendly parenting options with your posts on social media. How does that make you feel?

I hope I am! I hope I make it seem easy and honest for others. I don’t want to appear to be lecturing or telling other people how they should be living their lives, I think people need to work things like that for themselves. I can only try to inspire and share what I know. I’m just a normal person trying to do my bit and I know I still have a long way to go to. We’re in this and learning together.

For parents hesitant to begin cloth, what other eco changes would you suggest instead?

There are some disposable options out there that are apparently better choices than others, but I’ve never used them. I really think that you are better off in the long run just switching to cloth but I think different products suit different ways of life. It’s good to have options.

Do you have any other words of advice or tips to share?

Take each day as it comes and don’t put pressure on yourself when it comes to sustainability; it’s not a competition. Small steps, individual accountability and a positive attitude can change the world.

Out and about with modern cloth nappies

In brief

Number of bums in cloth. 2.

Time in cloth. Less than 12 months.

Number of nappies. Lots! I’ve been collecting them slowly.

Full or part time. Full time.

Nappy style. Lots of different styles all from Baby Beehinds.

Stuff or snap. Snap … I think?

Pre-stuff or lay as you go. Lay as I go.

Line or tumble dry. Line.

Favourite cloth related product. Baby Beehinds bamboo nappies and reusable/ washable bamboo wipes.

Describe your journey with cloth in one word. Learning.

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