In today’s interview with Nicola – kindness and honesty advocate, and mother of two girls who is happy to wait for the teenage years, she shares a quote about not doing zero waste perfectly, but instead encouraging everyone to do it imperfectly. It’s an approach she takes around her home in an attempt to teach her daughters to be mindful and conscious of others and the world around them. Her approach includes refusing to spend unnecessary money on “eco” products and including disposable products in her routine as the need has arisen. Nicola takes great joy in using and sharing cloth nappies, “but they are pee and poo catchers at the end of the day and they need to be able to do just that.”
Welcome, Nicola @this.lifeof.mine
Can you tell us a little about yourself, your family, where you live and what you love about where you live?
My name is Nicola and I live in the South West, UK. I love where I live because of the laid back west country living. I have two girls only 17 months apart in age; they’re already so sweet together.
What matters most to you in life? What matters most when it comes to your family?
The thing that matters most to me is kindness and honesty. Those things are free. I think It’s important to build others up and give what we can. I hope I can pass this on to the girls.
What does life with two under two look like for you right now?
It is so hectic but it is getting easier now that we have fallen into a routine with the both of them. Being in lockdown is hard but we are all healthy and have each other.
How has your approach to parenting changed the second time around?
I have relaxed so much more this time around. When you have two babies to look after, one has to wait while you are sorting the other one out. Willow never had to wait and we can already see Hazel is much more independent and happy to be playing on her own. It could be a personality thing but Hazel seems like a much more relaxed baby.
What part of parenting to come are you most looking forward to?
Probably when they’re both talking and we can do things together – day trips, film nights and cosy cuddles on the sofa (definitely not the hormonal teenage years though).
How have you found time for self-care since becoming a mum and what does it look like for you?
I don’t have that much time for self-care but I love it when I can have a hot bubble bath in the evening or a nice glass of wine and a film.
How has life changed for you and your family as a result of COVID-19? Has it resulted in a new outlook on life for you? If so, can you please explain.
It has made me realise how precious life and spending time with loved ones is. I can’t wait to be able to do normal things again like going round a friends for a cup of tea or even taking the girls to baby groups or soft play. It has made me appreciate the little things that I used to take for granted.
How has motherhood changed your approach on life in general?
It has definitely slowed me down and made me think more about myself as a person. I want to try and teach the girls how to be mindful and conscious of others and the world around them. I want to make as many memories as we can and make everything special for them.
What future do you hope for your daughters?
That COVID hasn’t changed the way we do everything and they can enjoy a party or a festival without having to worry about social distancing or bubbles.
Can you share some of the ways (besides cloth nappies – we’ll get onto that in a minute), you attempt to lower your family’s footprint on the Earth?
I have swapped to CSP, reusable wipes, reusable make up wipes, washable kitchen roll (flannels in the draw) and Tupperware for lunches and all foods we store in the fridge. There are still so many things I would like to do but for now I try to be as conscientious as possible. I am not completely zero waste by no means and I still buy some things in plastic bottles as I am sure we all do, but any changes that are manageable for us to do I try too.
What tips can you share for being eco conscious on a budget?
You really don’t need to spend tonnes of money on “eco” products. Use what you have, buy preloved where possible. Plastic items aren’t terrible and they have their place around the home. Reusable items such a Tupperware most people have, use Tupperware to store food in the fridge/freezer or for taking food out for work or walks. Reusable sanitary products don’t have to cost the earth either, there are plenty of homemade options around. Zero waste shops offer food items for a good price along with refill shampoos and conditioners.
What do you think needs to happen for more people to choose a more environmentally responsible lifestyle more often?
The items definitely need to be cheaper – why do prices increase dramatically because it has an eco label? If it was more mainstream, I don’t think it would be as expensive.
Why do you love using cloth nappies?
Because they are reusable and so pretty!
You have referred to yourself as having ‘a crazy nappy obsession’? Can you please explain why you would give yourself this name, and what a ‘crazy nappy obsession’ looks like?
Haha, I don’t remember this, but yesss the cloth world is crazy. There are so many different brands and prints it is a lot to get excited about! I think it’s a healthy hobby to have really, having a variety of brands and prints to use on both of my babies. And having a large BTP and newborn collection means I can lend the nappies to others to make use of them while I am not using them which is amazing and makes me feel good inside.
What does your partner think about having a nappy obsessed wife? What are his thoughts on reusable nappies and general and what role does he play in supporting your family’s cloth journey?
He is so supportive. He was totally in when I said I wanted to use them. He is great at changing them when he needs too, although he did use a cloth wipe as a fleece liner the other day!
Can you share your early days in cloth with us?
The early days … I am trying to remember! I started cloth on Willow at 5 months old. I had rented a kit from the local nappy library and I loved them. I even took them away with us on the trial. Totally out of my depth with a baby with green explosive teething poos. I ended up using disposables too but that was fine and it didn’t put me off. I started my blogging on Instagram and I am where I am today.
You now have two cloth bums to love. How does having two in cloth compare to having one in cloth? Any thoughts for those daunted by having more than one in cloth?
It is a lot of washing having two in cloth but you get used to it quite quickly! Changes are no different than if you use disposables, you just have two cloth bums to change instead of one. You need to be organised with two in cloth and make sure your wash routine is kept up to date and you put your nappies away.
Can you share your experience of clothing from birth? Do you have any top tips for others hoping to do the same?
Definitely invest in prefolds and size one wraps. They are so cost effective and easy to use.
Can you share what your experience has been with night nappies?
I have been experimenting with bamboo cotton flats at nights and they’re fab, slim and dry really quickly in the winter. We stopped using cloth at night for Willow at around 11 months when she had a terrible acidic teething rash and loose stools, but we went back to cloth after a couple months break. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing and disposables have their place when you need to use them. We have used night nappies on Hazel from newborn. At first, I had to change her once or twice in the night but then she was able to have fitted night nappies as she did not need changing overnight. I have also used bamboo cotton flats for her and they have worked well.
What do you look for most in a cloth nappy?
I seem to have a couple of favourite brands that I always use, this is because I know they work well. We use bamboo inserts in the day and mainly hemp and bamboo overnight. I seem to have mostly pocket nappies or all-in-two nappies. I don’t mind about these taking longer to prep after washing. I quite enjoy the whole wash routine, prep and put away process. A cloth nappy needs to be reliable, absorbent and we don’t want any leaks. I like that they look beautiful but they are pee and poo catchers at the end of the day and they need to be able to do just that.
What nappy prints are you drawn to most?
Floral/botanical every time!
How do you organise and store your cloth nappies?
I have a box on the change table with nappies in. After they have been washed and stuffed, they go in the nappy drawer ready to be rotated into the box. This is so I don’t use the same nappies all the time and they all go through a rotation process. I love having some nappies on display so this is why I have some to hand on the changing table.
What do you do with the poo? It’s a question you get asked a lot – please, share your response.
I knock any solid poo in the toilet and rinse off any nappies that need that need it using the shower head into a bucket, then I tip the water into the toilet. Easy peasy!
You are a strong advocate for cloth not being all or nothing? Can you explain what you mean by this and/or share any advice for part-time cloth use?
Oooh, I just answered this above. It means if you need a break from cloth for travel, childcare, medical needs, then please do this. You are not a failure if you need/want to use disposables. Even using one cloth nappy a day saves so many from landfill so just do what you can and PLEASE do not feel the need to be eco perfect or feel eco shamed. Everyone is doing the best they can in life. If you choose to use cloth wipes but not cloth nappies then that’s ok too, everyone needs to do what works for them.
You are also an advocate for second-hand cloth. Can you explain the benefits of buying pre-loved cloth nappies?
There are so many benefits of buying preloved nappies. It means the nappies are loved by another mum, the money goes back to the parent selling the nappies, you get some money off a nappy for your baby it’s a win win. There are tonnes of bargains on the preloved pages definitely give them a browse if you are needing to bulk out your reusables.
It is often argued that cloth nappies are not necessarily any better for the environment due to water and energy required to wash them? How would your response be to such a comment?
Well, yes it does cost you money in detergent and electric but actually it uses more water to make one pack of nappies than it does for a parent to wash them at home. I cannot remember exact figures but it uses less water and less trees are cut down (yes trees go into making disposables) per child if you decide to use cloth over disposables.
What does it mean to you to be part of the cloth community?
Everything, I love everything about being part of this lovely community. I have met so many beautiful humans through social media. It has been one of the perks of blogging about cloth bumming through Instagram.
Can you share the story of how a friendship has developed as a result of being nappy obsessed?
I have met a few ladies on the ‘Gram that I speak to most days. I have even met up with some of them and would consider them my closest friends. Having all these amazing people to talk to in my phone has really helped me though these tough times.
You have teamed up with a group of other mums on Instagram to share content using #clothmadesimple. Can you tell us more about the initiative, where it came from and what you hope to achieve? And, tell us, how simple is it really to use cloth nappies?
The lovely Amy started #clothmadesimple so we could spread the word of how easy cloth really was through social media. There is so much misinformation online and we wanted to show that it is ok to do things differently and the same, have a different wash routine, stuffing nappies differently. It really is so simple to use cloth and you can even use a tea towel if you need too.
You were involved in the Baba and Boo project to donate 3,000 reusable nappies to frontline National Health Service staff during the peak on the pandemic – why did you feel it was important to be part of this project?
It meant so much to me to be involved in this project – 90 nappies were delivered to me from the lovely Eve at baba and boo and I emailed my colleagues in the NHS to see who would like some. I work as a mental health occupational therapist but I got sent home due to being pregnant and couldn’t go back to help them all with COVID. This was a way of me being able to support those on the frontline during the first lockdown.
What would be your best advice for getting started with cloth nappies?
Just go for it! You will love it and never look back.
Describe your journey with cloth in one word.
And, finally, please share any other words of advice you feel would be of benefit to the readers of Make Laundry Not Landfill.
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly” – Anne Marie Bonneau.