Thursday, 7 April 2011

Cloth Nappy Rant

It's been a while again, it's amazing how working actually takes up so much time.... I may need to think about having the occasional rant on here and lots of short bits about what we're up to!

Anyway, today's rant is about nappies but it's not my rant! It's probably a rant about a rant

I recently had this article in the Torygraph drawn to my attention. Jojo Moyes seems to have a bit of an issue with cloth nappy users. She seems of the opinion that all cloth nappy users are middle class pseudo hippy hand wringers trying to assuage some of their guilt at their lifestyles by slaving over a hot nappy bucket.

I will hold my hands up; I am middle class, I am a bit of a hippy and therefore probably a pseudo hippy and I wring my hands about various issues. The issues which induced me to use cloth are concerns about the chemical gels in paper nappies, concerns about the environment and concerns about the cost of paper nappies.

Anyway, here are some of my main issues with this article:
"I did consider trying cloth nappies for my second child. At least I did until a visit to the house of a friend who used them. It took days for the twin fragances [sp] of poo and Napisan to disappear from my clothes."
Really Jojo? I suspect this is just bollocks. Babies poo, their poo smells wherever they do it and nappy buckets do not, if you rinse off the poo, smell of poo. They smell of wee which is still fairly unpleasant but that's why they come equipped with these things called "lids". So how your clothes smelt of poo is beyond me. And your clothes may have smelt of Napisan, I don't know what Napisan smells like.... which might mean it's not an essential component of a cloth nappy lifestyle. I'd also suggest that if your clothes were smelling you might want to consider taking them off and washing them.

"The bottom line is that it's easy to soak your nappies in a bucket when you have a) time, b) a utility room to hide them in and c) a garden in which to pin them out."

Ok, firstly; if you read any cloth nappy website they don't advocate soaking your nappies in a bucket (wet pailing), you just pop the dirty nappy in a dry one (dry pailing) but even if you did wet pail just how long would it take to fill a bucket with water and stick a dirty nappy in it? How much space does a bucket take up? and no, you don't need a garden you just need half a brain to get a decent clothes airer. Don't get me wrong, I wish I did have a garden! If I did the nappies would be out there but as it is they're drying in the sitting room behind me as I write this.

"The queens of nappy valley must be aware that the ecological argument is far from conclusive, given the extra water usage and leaching of detergents from the washing process. Friends who use cloth nappies admit that they tumble dry the towelling squares to avoid crispiness."

Actually the government report that stated cloth nappies are just as damaging to the environment has been discredited. See Go Real for details. If you use mainstream detergents, bleach, wash at 90 and tumble dry or possibly iron your nappies then yes, they are probably not very good for the environment but if you wash them every 3 days when you have a full load, use ecover or similar or ecoballs, wash at 60 and allow to air dry or in the sun (if you have access to it) for stain removal and don't bother to iron (why would you) then they are much much greener than paper. Most cloth nappy users no longer use towelling squares either as there are many more fabrics and designs that won't go "crispy" in the wash.

"Others, who can't face the task, use a laundry service - and what's the carbon footprint of a 20-mile round trip in a white van?"

Most laundry services try to use greener transport as far as I can tell and most will be fairly local. They also won't just travel 20 miles to collect one persons nappies, they'll be picking up a fair few. What I would like to know is what's the carbon footprint for manufacturing and transporting paper nappies to shops? Oh, and the carbon footprint for mothers like Jojo driving to the supermarket to buy them? And the rubbish vans that have to come and collect them? And as they sit in landfill slowly decomposing and filling the atmosphere with methane? I do realise that you'd be going to the supermarket anyway and the rubbish vans would be coming anyway but if we all tried to use more reusable goods maybe more trips to the supermarket could be made on foot or maybe fewer rubbish vans would need to prowl the streets.

"These "green mums" also tend to be the mothers who preach, but don't see the inconsistency in purchasing expensive Bugaboo pram
s, immaculate new nursery furniture from the White Company and lovely new outfits from Boden. Not forgetting the two holidays a year on a big, carbon-spewing aeroplane."
Actually most of the cloth nappy users I know of are more likely to carry their babies or use second hand pushchairs, second hand furniture and clothes and may go on holiday on a big carbon spewing aeroplane but I doubt they have two a year. A lot of cloth nappy users that I know of don't even have a car.... However even if parents are buying a load of new stuff and jetting off at every available opportunity, at least by using cloth nappies they are doing something to reduce their waste. Surely it's brainless to say that anyone who buys a bugaboo can't use cloth nappies without being hypocritical?

"This nappymania is a peculiarly female obsession. Men believe their time is valuable. My husband, domestic animal though he is, would no more wash a nappy than he would attempt to breastfeed."
So you have a useless husband. No reason not to use cloth! Maybe I'm just lucky in that my partner was very receptive to the idea and has taken to using them as well as I have. He doesn't wash them but I suspect that is more down to my control freakery than any unwillingness on his part. He will hang them out on the line and put them away. Maybe he's unusual. I doubt he is. And I believe my time is valuable. I just happen to believe caring for my child and all that comes with it is a good use of what time I have.

"An unscientific survey revealed that other mums at my children's playgroup had reached the same conclusion: too much time, too much detergent and definitely not safe for bumshufflers."
My issue here is the bumshufflers comment. What nappies have these women tried? My nephew could bumshuffle for the Olympics, I've never seen a baby move so fast. He also wears a wide variety of cloth nappies and not one of them has fallen off or befallen any mishap in any of his bumshuffling adventures.

So Jojo. All in all a very lazy and badly researched article. I would guess the real issue here is your laziness in not wanting to use cloth and guilt because you know you should. You get around it by being defensive and having a bitchy pop at anyone who does actually take the little extra time and effort to do what's best for their child and the environment.

Who can resist a huge cloth bum anyway?


  1. I've realised I may have come accross a bit harsh again! I know many parents who use cloth and many who don't. My personal opinion is that it's best (you may have noticed) but if parents just don't want to use it then fair enough, not everyone is won over! It's just the attitude of this article I have a problem with, not paper nappy users in general.

    Although use cloth, it's best! ;)

  2. Just seen this ( popped in from NM's , mamarooney!)Brilliant post totally agree with you! Think jojo should keep her deluded and stereotypical opinions to herself .
    Charlotte x

  3. I'm not surprised you're wound up by that article... her comments sound totally 'sensationalist' and many are just totally untrue.

    Our 13 month old daughter has been in cloth full time since 4 weeks old, and my husband's as pro-cloth nappies as me - in fact, I can't remember the last time I put the nappy wash on, as every 3 days whilst I'm feeding L before bed, he'll grab the mesh bag and pop them in the wash along with our wipes, BLW-food-clearing flannels and house-cleaning-cloths. He'll even stuff nappies sometimes if he has a few minutes spare before heading off to work in the morning! :D