This blog post was written by Emma Black from Canberra Cloth Bums, a grassroots reusable nappy advocacy group created by parents to provide support, education, change, and community.

When I started researching cloth nappies, I was overwhelmed. I had never used them, none of my friends used them, and in my mind’s eye I still saw the soaking buckets of terry cloth and pilchers.

And then I found modern cloth nappies (MCNs). And I almost gave up.

So many options! Eventually I took the plunge and purchased some ‘China Cheapies’ (which actually still make up the majority of my stash, although the Work at Home Mum (WAHM) nappies are taking over!). I upgraded to charcoal microfibre, thinking the extra dollars were worth it. I made mistakes, and over time I learnt a lot, especially from stalking Facebook groups like Clean Cloth Nappies (CCN) and review pages.

But I still felt like I was on my own. Nobody in my new parent group was interested. I wanted to find other Canberra parents who loved cloth as much as I did, so in November 2018 I started a Facebook group – Canberra Cloth Bums. I wasn’t sure if I would find anyone interested, but I put the group out there, and to my surprise, people joined. And kept joining. I realised that there was a need for our group, to connect old hands with new starters. We set up catch-ups and Nappycinos, we asked questions and shared stash shots.

At this point, I decided I wasn’t just satisfied with connecting people who were already using and planning to use cloth. I wanted to start spreading the fluff bum love, and openly advocating.

I put a call out to my new community for people who were especially interested in promoting cloth nappies. We caught up, had a brainstorm, and then put our ideas into motion.

We connected with the Canberra Environment Centre and set up information sessions, with our first one booking out, and subsequent sessions still filling up. We’ve reached out to other local parent-focused organisations and hold demonstrations through those.

We set up plans for a cloth nappy library to help parents in trialing nappies (we’re still sorting through the donations we received for this, and plan to start loans soon) – big shout out to Hanna of the Dubbo and Central West Cloth Nappy Library who let me pick her brain on that one! The Conder House Laundry & Linen Service will also be generously donating their time and facilities for sanitising washes between loans.

A local charity who receive donations of baby goods to distribute to parents in need reached out and gave us a heap of cloth nappies (as their clients are often in situations where cloth isn’t practical). Originally this was to be for the library, but we held an online “auction” and raised funds to give back to the charity.

We’ve had stalls at sustainability events, and are attending a baby expo at the end of the year.

Most recently, one of our local ACT Legislative Assembly members presented a motion to the Assembly, asking the government to look into rebates for reusables, including nappies. This idea was partly sparked by a letter we wrote, and suggestions we made. And the motion passed! I’ll be sure to update the ANA once we hear the outcome of this. Amongst all of this exciting news, we reached out to local media outlets, and found support there too. So far we have featured in two glossy weeklies, an online media source, radio and we even made it onto the local news.

And our group just keeps growing.

What this boils down to is, if it doesn’t already exist, create your own village! Start a Facebook group, hold a Nappycino (which the ANA and CCN have been so kind to allow these to be communicated through their groups). There are many wonderful connections to be made, and opportunities to appear. I’m so proud to be part of such a kind, supportive collection of people, and to have the chance to be part of something bigger than myself.

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