Barefootprint Coaching Blog
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This is the first of many entries about green parenting. It’s been 9 weeks since Juan was born, which gives me enough experience to comment on the effectiveness of some green parenting initiatives we’ve been trying out.
Probably my favourite green product so far is reusable cloth baby wipes. These are such an obvious and easy green choice, yet I didn’t consider them until late in the pregnancy when I found them on Etsy.
I bought a pack of 10 cloth baby wipes made from organic hemp from LilStuff on Etsy. When they arrived, I decided they were too cute and lovely to be used to wipe Juan’s bottom. So they became his bath washers instead – and they still make me smile every time we use them.
Curiously enough, I hadn’t really seen reusable wipes on the Australian market. However a few days after I bought from Etsy, I happened to come across some flannel baby wipes in a country craft market. I purchased five of them and was offered that if I provided my own material, the crafter, Nicole, would make them at a discounted price. So I purchased a metre of flannel from Lincraft and posted to Nicole, who made up around 25 wipes.
So, how do they rate?
Usability (Two Thumbs Up)
The reusable wipes are just great. I keep them in a basket on our change table and give them a few squirts of either solution or water (see the recipe I use for the solution) and use. I only need to use one wipe per nappy change, as the fabric has two layers, so I can use both front and back of the wipe if necessary. It is only for really messy nappy changes that I need to use two wipes. So, in a day, I guess we only go through a maximum of 10 wipes. Once done, we just drop in a bucket of water in the laundry for soaking.
They will be easy to use for ‘on the go’ too. To be honest, we haven’t needed to use them in our nappy bag yet, as we were gifted a few packets of disposable wipes which we’ve been using them for travel and on the go. Once we finish the disposable wipes, we will use the reusable wipes. I bought a fair trade cosmetic bag from Nepal – in support of the Womens Skills Development Organisation Pokhara – and a little tiny spray bottle, to respectively house and wet the wipes.
In terms of washing the wipes, they don’t really require any additional effort. Anyone who has a baby knows that you wash every day or every other day. So we just throw the wipes in the wash with everything else and if anything, it helps fill the load.
Cost effectiveness (Two Thumbs Up)
The bottom line is that by using wipes, you can save up to $1,350 over the nappy changing period for two children!
All in all, the wipes only cost around $40. If we use water to wet the wipes (which I actually prefer over the solution, especially now Juan is still on breastmilk) – it doesn’t cost anything extra. If we make solution, my calculations show that it would cost an additional $20 a year for the ingredients. Let’s throw in four packets of eco-laundry detergent to cover the proportion used for the wipes at a cost of $6.50 each. Say Juan uses nappies for 2.5 years - that makes a total cost of $176 (if using solution, otherwise, would only cost $126).
Let’s compare that to disposable wipes. The cheapest disposables I could see on the market was $10 for 480 wipes. Assuming there are 6 nappy changes per day and you use 2 wipes each change, you will use 4,380 wipes per year. This will cost $91.25 per year and $228 for 2.5 years.
Now, if we were to use disposable eco-wipes, it would be much more expensive. The cheapest eco-disposables I could find on the market was $5.50 for a pack of 80. Using the same assumptions as above this will have an annual cost of $301 and $753 for 2.5 years. Ouch!
That is just for one child. Assuming that we have two children (ie 5 years in nappies), the total cost for:
Reusables: $100 initial outlay for the wipes + $100 for the solution ingredients + $52 for the proportion of laundry detergent = Total Cost of $252. If we don’t use the solution and simply use water, it would only cost $152
Non-eco disposables: $91 x 5 years = $456
Eco-disposables: $301 x 5 years = $1,505
Wow. Until doing that math, I knew that reusable wipes were cost-effective, but I didn’t realise by how much! That’s a significant saving to any family’s household budget.
4,380 disposable wipes per year makes for a lot of waste going in landfill. Not to mention the packaging of the wipes. If you aren’t using biodegradable wipes, that’s quite a footprint.
Admittedly, using reusable wipes does require water usage, both in wetting the wipes for use and washing them. As mentioned earlier, if you can throw the wipes into loads of washing that you would already be doing anyway, there is limited water usage.
However, disposable wipes also have a water footprint in terms of the water used in production of the wipes and packaging, however I wasn’t able to ascertain figures for a comparison.
Disposable wipes have been known to contain harsh cleaning agents, preservatives, and fragrances. These may cause diaper rash. Eco-disposable wipes typically use more natural products and are better for the baby’s skin.
If you use reusable wipes, especially those made from organic materials, you are in control of what you use to wet the wipes with – so you can be in control of what you put on your baby’s delicate skin. See the solution that I have been using with baby Juan.
So, there you have it folks. Doing this analysis has even surprised me – especially with the cost effectiveness of using reusable wipes. $1,350 worth of savings over 2 children! That is the equivalent of a flight back to the Philippines to visit family. Who said green isn’t good for the back pocket!