By Fiona & Catherine from Darlings Downunder, a Melbourne cloth nappy business (visit our Ringwood shop!) specialising in reusable nappies since 2003.
Love using cloth nappies for your baby, and want everyone else to know how awesome they are?
If you’re like us, maybe you start a cloth nappy business! But if your love of cloth doesn’t extend quite that far, but you just wish more people knew that reusable nappies are a real option that make a big difference to the environment (as well as to the pocket), here are some easy things you can do that will help raise awareness of cloth nappies in your community, and help support other parents who want to make the same choice.
Contact your maternity hospital
If it’s not that long since you gave birth, get in touch with some feedback for the hospital. Let them know that you would have found some information on cloth nappies and the options available very helpful during prenatal classes.
If you’re booked in to have your baby soon, ask if reusable nappies will be covered in the prenatal classes and ask whether the hospital supplies cloth nappies during the hospital stay, or support parents who want to use their own reusable nappies.
When we talk to maternity units, they say no one ever asks about cloth nappies (probably because parents don’t know about what’s available or they’re too busy having a baby!) so it’s important that those of us to do use cloth contact hospitals to put it on their radar.
Remember that the Australian Nappy Association has a Get Into Cloth demo kit that is designed to be used for classes and workshops and is a great resource if the hospital doesn’t have someone in-house who knows about cloth.
Contact your local council
There are some local councils who run cloth nappy workshops, others (like the City of Casey in Melbourne) who offer incentives, but considering that many councils have strategies in place for reducing waste (like smaller bins and less frequent collection as well as sustainable living classes and rebates on things like compost bins) it’s surprising that most councils haven’t done anything to encourage cloth nappy use – especially since the space required by disposable nappies seems to be a primary objection to any reduction in bin size/collection.
Most councils have a Sustainability Department and it’s usually the best place to start. If they don’t, contact the Waste Management Department. Ask if they have plans to run cloth nappy classes (along with their composting workshops!) to encourage people to give reusable nappies a go. Arm yourself with some facts and figures, offer to help coordinate a workshop, or send them over to the Australian Nappy Association (who should be able to find someone local who can help).
Chat to your Maternal Child Health Nurse
Having a chat about cloth nappies to your local MCHN is an easy thing to do at your next visit. Ask if there are any plans to provide reusable nappy information to new parents. Let them know it’s something you would have appreciated, and see where the conversation goes.
Email your local members
Send an email to your local councillor/s and your state and federal MPs. Tell them what you’d like to see in your community. Tell them the sort of difference cloth nappies have made for your family and what sort of resources and information you would have benefited from if they’d been available in your area. Reusable nappies hit a lot of great points for politicians – saving families money, saving the environment, and photo opportunities with cute babies in cute cloth nappies!
Facilitate Cloth Nappy Workshops
If no one is holding cloth nappy workshops or classes in your area, and you have no luck inspiring the local council, maternity unit or health nurse to provide this service locally, why don’t you organise some yourself? Get in touch with local parenting groups to see if anyone is interested in finding out more about reusable nappies, and arrange to meet in a local park, coffee shop or hall. The ANA has a great little Workshop Information Pack available that runs through everything you need to consider when organising a workshop.
Use social media
Ever wondered why the Australian Nappy Association runs great photo competitions, like Cloth Shot A Day and the recent National Wetbag Week? It’s because it’s an easy and fun way for parents to share their cloth nappy love and for other parents’ curiosity to be piqued and hopefully acted on. It’s non confrontational, and non judgemental.
So keep on posting those cloth nappy pics! Share what it’s like using reusable nappies and answer any questions you’re asked. The more cloth nappy photos people see in their feed (whether they’re parents or not) the more mainstream and ‘normal’ it becomes.
Don’t forget about videos as well – if you have a YouTube channel, it’s a great way of sharing your cloth nappy experience.
Write a guest blog
At the Australian Nappy Association (& at Darlings Downunder too!) we love hearing from parents and their experience using cloth nappies. Write a post for the ANA’s Cloth Nappy Super Heroes series, or contact your favourite retailer or brand and send them an in-depth review of one of their products or an article about how their business has helped you.
And if you love writing about cloth nappies, why not start a blog of your own?
Start a cloth nappy support group
The US calls them Cloth Diaper Circles and in the UK they’re Nappycinos (and that’s what we used to call them too!), but it’s just a local group of cloth nappy using or interested parents who meet together to chat cloth nappies (& other things!). It’s a way of getting together with like minded parents, sharing experiences, learning, and raising awareness in your community. Just like your favourite cloth nappy Facebook group, but in real life!
Take the challenge
Can we challenge you this month do as many of the above as you feel comfortable with? If we all make a couple of phone calls or send two or three emails, there’s the chance for some real traction and change. As cloth nappy users, we are the ones who need to stand up and tell government, organisations, and the wider community that cloth nappies exist, that they work, that there are a growing number of parents who use them, and that with the right support and encouragement many more parents would consider them. And with that comes benefits to families, the wider community and the environment. Without us letting them know, they have no idea – seriously, so many people have NO CLUE this awesome solution exists! So let’s start spreading the word and changing the world.
xx Fiona & Catherine