Travelling with modern cloth nappies
Behind the brand

#32: Around the country with cloth

Today, we welcome Sara, the founder of Earthside Eco Bums, who shares the beginnings of her business and how she hopes to provide the support parents need to find the confidence to give cloth nappies a go. Unlike most businesses, Earthside Eco Bums was formed on the road, on a family caravanning trip around Australia. When parents started flocking to the van to learn more about cloth nappies and how to use them, Sara realised it was time she made more education available. Read on to find out how she managed to start a business whilst on the road with two small children, and for her best advice on making cloth nappies work while travelling.

Welcome, Sara @earthsideecobums

Travelling Australia with modern cloth nappies

Can you share a little about yourself and your business?

Earthside Eco Bums was created while travelling around Australia. As a cloth mumma to my two babes under two years old, I felt determined to make cloth work on the road. This meant even using cloth in some self-sufficient areas with little water and no power.

I found that along the way I was attracting attention from other mummas who had small children in nappies. They were always attracted to my fluff hanging from my clothesline at the front of our van. They would stop in, have a chat and, before I knew it, I would be holding gatherings with local mums wherever I was, showing them cloth nappies and how to use them. In the warmer areas, parents were particularly drawn to my use of reusable swim nappies.

I figured that if parents were drawn to me for support, support is what I should make available to them. So, I created Earthside Eco Bums (EEB) and, before I knew it, I was selling swim nappies and educating parents on the use of cloth which led to converting them to cloth. I was onto something here and I wanted to make it available to all!

Once I returned home, I realised that EEB was something and I needed to let it grow so I can continue to help parents on their cloth journey. Then COVID happened. So, I created ‘virtual consults’ where parents could be in the comfort of their safe homes and still be able to speak with me about all their cloth concerns while I show them through Zoom just how to use their new nappies.

Now that things are settled, I’ve realised that virtual consults are working and are so convenient for parents all around Australia as I can visit them in their homes whenever its convenient for them, bringing Nappy HQ with me! So even though I am inviting my local mummas into my cloth nappy headquarters here in Busselton, I am able to support all our cloth community users around Australia with ease.

Before we get further into the interview, can you tell us one mantra by which you choose to live?

Everything happens for a reason. My journey through motherhood was a tough one and this was tested to its limits during the past two years. From conceiving through to birthing through to raising my babies, my mantra is tested EVERY SINGLE DAY and never have I had as much faith in it as now. I’ve been tested and now I trust it.

You describe yourself as being passionate about holistic health and wellbeing. Can you share what it is that ignites your passion?

I believe in the body’s innate ability to heal itself. I believe that we are amazing beings and we only need to let go of fear and allow ourselves to trust in who we are and the universe that surrounds us.

I try wherever possible to be ‘as close to the natural source’ as possible. Something my Grandma has taught me is that nutrition is key and can solve a lot of our problems, and I just love the feeling that comes when you quite simply get back to nature.

My husband (who is a holistic chiropractor) and now my children ignite this passion in me. I want to live and I want to live well. But, more importantly, I want to instil values in my children that will hopefully allow them to live a more holistic and full life. I know what it’s like to fear ‘no tomorrow’. I lived this for some time during my last pregnancy. Since then, I have only become more fiercely determined to live my life to the fullest.

From what I understand, your quest to support others on their eco-conscious parenting journeys began with a caravanning trip around Australia? Can you tell us more about that?

Everything happens for a reason. The reason we chose to travel came from an experience with my pregnancy with my daughter. An opportunity presented for me to share my knowledge with other eco-conscious parents and the rest is history. Once I opened up to parents about my own journey, barriers were broken and parents invited me in to their own parenting and subsequent cloth journey and we took it from there. I’ve created some beautiful friendships from the road.

Before we get further into your business journey, everyone is going to want to know how you made it work – so, tell us, how did you manage two children in cloth with only a caravan as a base? Give us your best practical tips.

It’s easy! All you need is:

  • I had my handy wetbags – extra larges as dry pails, doubles as storage bags for trips as well as dirties and all sorts. So handy on the road, can never have too many. I had about 20 minis for various things (snacks, toys, car activities, make up bag, coin collector, shell holder for the kids, sanitary bag … the list goes on).
  • A silicone brush – to help with removing poo.
  • A bucket for rinsed soiled nappies, which I kept under our van when we were camped.
  • A bucket for collecting water from my showers – I used this to rinse the days nappies and then dry pail until wash day.
  • Onboard machine – this is handy of course, but we couldn’t always use it.
  • Handy collapsible clothes hoist.
  • Fast drying absorbent inserts – I found the perfect ones.
  • Bamboo liners – these were super handy for times where water wasn’t readily available which made cleaning poos off nappies much easier.

Your travel has also included a number of plane trips. What have you learnt from flying with cloth? What advice do you have for others who hope to do the same?

Wetbags! These guys are super, super handy.

Obviously, length of travel determines how much you bring with you. I had the two in cloth and managed to bring with me one double wetbag filled with their nappies each (a few more for various other things) and an extra large for dry pailing when I was at my accommodation, and I love my silicone brush so it came too. On the plane, having a double wetbag set up with wipes, liners, change mat and a few nappies meant that I would grab this one bag, take it to the toilet and change bub/toddler on their tiny change table. It worked a treat and I really had no issues at all. I also use the bamboo liners on the plane to dispose of poo easily.

Once at the destination, I would hang the extra large wetbag behind a door and use this to store soiled nappies. I would, of course, rinse off any poo before adding it to the bag and making sure I did a daily rinse; they were fine to sit in the dry pail until wash day. Wash day is more frequent as I didn’t have my whole nappy stash, but I didn’t mind.

I would bring with me some easy to use nappies (AIO velcro tabbed) for my family and friends to use if my children were in their care. This meant I didn’t have to switch to disposables if I wasn’t around.

Travel must haves:

  • Some fast-drying nappies.
  • Wetbags of all sizes.
  • Silicone brush.
  • Bio/bamboo liners.
  • Some easy-to-use nappies if your children will be cared for by others.

What do you think is the best thing about travelling with cloth nappies? And you might as well counteract that with the worst as well.

Pros

  • Saves money!
  • Easy to use.
  • Don’t have to dispose of stinky festering disposables.
  • No nappy rash.
  • Supports my eco-conscious view.
  • They look great!
  • No more saggy, yucky disposable swim nappies!
  • They attract a community of mothers!
  • I don’t run out of nappies ever.

Cons

  • Access to water in remote areas is difficult.

What did your cloth nappy stash look like while you were on the road? How does it compare to what your cloth nappy stash looks like today?

The only difference would be abundance. I have confidence in specific brands that work for my babies and the way that I use cloth. In saying that, every baby and situation is different. However, my stash consisted of:

  • BubbleBubs Candies – so fast drying! About 45. I actually started with flats but I’ve never been a fan and, to be honest, the Candie inserts were still faster drying!
  • Extra inserts as I reused shells.
  • A few night nappies as the year progressed and wetting increases over night. I used the RAWr Stuff and Snap x2.
  • I had a few Bare and Boho covers for when my son went through an interesting stage and containment was an issue. I used the covers with the Candie inserts.
  • Some cloth wipes. I didn’t use these too often even though I could have.
  • Some BabyBeehinds AIO nappies for when the luxury of convenience was available.
  • 4 swim nappies (two each).

Now that we are home, my stash really isn’t that different. I have the ability to hold more nappies at a time considering space isn’t an issue. So, I have more night nappies and more day nappies. In saying that, I’ve had to de-stash some as my son toilet trained last month.

Now that you have a home base, how does your cloth use differ? With regards to set up, washing, anything really.

I use a dry pail wire basket instead of an extra large wetbag alone. I do use an extra large wetbag at home to put my used covers in before washing. Inserts go in my wire dry pail. To be honest, I wash a little less now that I can string the days out with more in my stash but not much has changed. I don’t use liners anymore as I have the convenience of water for daily cleaning. I don’t use the bucket outside as I can deal with nappies straight away. I still use my clothes hanger.

If you could choose only one place from your travels to visit again, where would it be, and why?

Oh, you’re asking the impossible here – North West of Western Australia. Hands down one of the most magical places I have ever been in my life. In saying that, the Daintree and bush camping in the Northern Territory are ridiculous! Anywhere where nature can captivate your senses and lull you into a meditative state brings me to a happy place. These are the places I think back to when I’m looking for a calm mind.

What is your advice to others who have entertained the idea of long-term travelling with kids? 

Don’t think too much. Just do it. The rest will follow.

It has seriously been the best thing for me and my little family. We were broken when we left home (long but interesting story), travelling brought us together. We connected not only to ourselves but each other. We all thrive on it now and want to head back as soon as we can. It’s in our blood.

We were in no situation to travel when we left. Everything was against us. No money, poor health, new baby, pets to find homes for, a business to take care of … to most, it would have seemed WAY too hard to do. We did it. We thrived on it.

Your business began while you were still on the road. How did you make it work? Especially with two small children underfoot?

It’s easy to find time for something you have a passion for. In a previous life, I was a teacher, so my organisation skills are great. Having said that, I have a belief that I can make anything work. I have the confidence in myself and saw it as a challenge I could achieve! Plus, I became addicted to the feeling of helping others. It just sort of evolved. If I hit a roadblock, I found a way out of it – more importantly, I believed I could find a way out of it so I did.

What has become your favourite part about running the business?

Connection. Everything has always been about connection. I love connecting to mummas, especially after the birth of a baby; we need our tribe. Being a part of something greater which connects you to the greater purpose brings good feels.

What would you say it is that sets Earthside Eco Bums apart from the other businesses in your field?

Connection. Anyone can get their hands on a cloth nappy. I provide the support you need to give you confidence in that cloth journey. Through virtual or physical in-person consults and ongoing support.

This is what sets Earthside Eco Bums apart from the rest.

What is your favourite product of those that you stock, and why?

Wetbags! They make life so much easier. And pretty.

Where do you hope to see Earthside Eco Bums in 5 years time?

Haha … wherever it takes me! Maybe the same, maybe product creation, it depends on what my community of parents needs and how I can best support that need.

What do you hope for the future of cloth nappy use in Australia?

Mainstream use! Less disposables and more cloth. Perhaps it’s in education and availability … the more I educate, the more I see parents using cloth as a no brainer. We just need to debunk that flat earth thinking when it comes to the way our parents and grandparents used to use cloth. Welcome to the world of modern cloth.

What is your advice for anyone who wants to use cloth nappies but has no idea where to start?

Before you start inundating yourself with all the information out there, find me, find a retailer, someone to talk to about your specific needs. Like buying a car, you wouldn’t suggest a two-door sports car to a family of six. There’s so many things to be considered and, if you want to start your cloth journey with confidence, then you need to start off on the right foot. I can get you there.

What would you advise is the greatest benefit in using cloth nappies?

Our environment and the value that is instilling in my children for them to see me place its value high.

What misconception about cloth nappies do you most frequently hear, and what is your response?

Leaks. Have you seen a disposable pooplosion? I dare you, ask a cloth mumma about her pooplosions (or lack thereof). I had a perfect example of this on the road where we had a blow out in a disposable in the car seat. Would NOT have happened if he was wearing cloth. There’s a large list of mis conceptions!

What do you think needs to happen to make cloth mainstream?

Education. Spreading the word and knowledge about cloth. That’s why what I’m doing works, I don’t just sell a nappy. Anyone can do that.

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

It really is dependent on the user. I always say to start with things that are easy to switch:

  • Stainless steel pegs over plastic.
  • Toothbrushes.
  • Deodorant, which is not only better for the environment for its packaging but your health!
  • Breast pads for mummas.
  • Sanitary napkins.

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

To quote someone awesome – Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

It’s the only way. I started to make a change and people noticed … it’s all it took.

And, to conclude, what is your greatest hope for your children and their future?

To live in a world where they can experience it in its beauty and full glory. To respect themselves, their lives and the world. After all, it’s not really ours is it? I prefer to see it as borrowed from future generations. Let’s keep it in good condition, shall we?

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Anyone can find an excuse not to do something. It has to come from within. If you desire to make a change, then cloth nappies is an amazing place to start as it not only has the most amazing benefits for your child’s health, wellbeing and your wallet, its positives are on a much bigger scale as well. It’s a no brainer. The decision comes from within and is a desire to make a change. I simply help foster that change and support its journey.

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