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This week I was given the chance to speak with Anna, creator of the amazing: Bumbini Cloth Diaper Company. Based in Ottawa, Ontario, we met through Random Acts of Green, an online network community hub which promotes environmental action!
Well, my parents used cloth diapers on me and my siblings. As I got older, I would use cloth diapers on other people’s kids whenever I babysat. So the decision to run a cloth diaper company for me was an easy one. Cloth diapers back when I was younger were stiff fabrics that were fastened with diaper pins. Today, they are modern, a vast selection of colorful prints and designs to choose from, that are much easier to use as they are fastened with Velcro or snaps. The name bumbini is a blending of the word bum and bambino, which is the Italian word for baby.
Could you tell our readers a little bit about the biggest perks & benefits when it comes to cloth diapering your newborns, and what inspired you to make the switch from disposable diapers to cloth diapers?
There are a lot of perks when using cloth diapers. Hands up if you want to save $1800. Yes, please! Simply by switching from disposable to cloth diaper, that is exactly how much you will save. This amount becomes compounded as you have additional children.
There is the environmental aspect of diverting hundreds of disposable diapers out of landfills, where one disposable diaper takes 500 years to decompose that is not even considering the raw human waste that is sitting in our landfills that may leak into our waterways. One component that I was quite surprised to learn was that of oil, which is used to create the outer part of the diaper (polyethylene plastic). It’s been reported that it takes 1 cup (½ cup pint) of crude oil to make 1 disposable diaper, by the time you complete diapering your baby you will have used 1989 litres (1898 pints) of oil, simply to keep your baby dry. In other words, the amount of plastic used for a single baby over the course of 30 months would amount to 715 pounds (or the equivalent to 3 heavyweight wrestlers).
By the time your baby is two years old, they will have gone through over 7000 diaper changes. That is a lot of garbage being produced by one baby. In fact, the importance of reducing our dependence on plastics cannot be overstated. As our natural resources are being depleted as a result of keeping up with increasing demands, the cost of sourcing materials and transporting products adds to an already hefty environmental footprint, simply from throwing out diapers. In other words, there is nothing convenient about simply discarding a diaper.
As a parent, by switching to cloth diapers you are controlling the number of harmful chemicals that are being exposed to your baby’s delicate skin and reproductive organs. As there are no chemicals within the diapers, your baby does not get diaper rash as babies do with disposable diapers, your baby learns potty training faster and the process is easier on both parents and baby.
Then there are also the hidden benefits such as never running out of diapers again, running the risk of not finding diapers at your local grocery store (what we have witnessed during these times, and with price gouging during times of the pandemic), looking for sales or having to hoard your baby’s nursery as a warehouse with boxes of diapers. Finally, they have a great resell factor. Now try that with disposable diapers.
How much do cloth diapers on average cost?
Cloth diapers cost anywhere between $300 to $700 for the initial purchase, depending on the brand and style chosen. This is even factoring in cloth diaper accessories such as diaper cream, wet bags, diaper sprayers, or bio liners.
Disposable diapers will cost you $2400 to $3000 by the time your child reaches two years old. This does not even account for diaper accessories such as diaper genies, laundry bins, wipes. As you can see the cost quickly adds up.
How long do cloth diapers usually last?
You can use cloth diapers that will last you 5-6 years before you will notice any wear and tear. In other words, you will be able to diaper 4-5 children. The longevity will depend on a few variables such as did you buy the diapers new or used, quality of diaper, how many diapers you use, how often they are washed, the type of detergent you use, do you use stain removers, bleaches, dryer sheets (all very harmful to diapers and not recommended to be used at all) and lastly the drying method. All these factors will determine the durability of your cloth diapers.
How many cloth diapers would I need?
A newborn you will be changing 10-12 per day, 6-12 months of age – you will be changing 8-10 day, 12-18 months you will be changing 6-8 day, 18 months to 24 months – changing 4-6 times a day or even transitioning into potty training and could be using 2-4 diapers per day.
The tremendous amount of resources, time, and energy needed to go into disposable diapers outweighs any convenience to “just throwing it away”, which ultimately costs us all dearly. Contrast this to cloth diapers; most parents are pleasantly surprised to know that just 1 cloth diaper replaces 240 disposable diapers! In other words, they are not single-use diapers.
I saw on your website that you sell a wide variety of cloth diapers ranging from “All-in-ones” to All-in Two’s“s”, how would you recommend a family decide which diaper is best for their baby, and do you have any personal favorites?
Well, there are many considerations but I first ask parents how much effort they would like to put into using cloth diapers. In other words, would a parent prefer a diaper that is like a disposable where there are no additional components? Or if they don`t mind stuffing diapers such as pocket diapers. The other consideration is do they want to cloth diapers full-time or part-time? How active is the family? Are they always on the go?
Highly recommend that families starting out, attend a workshop. There, each type of diaper is explained. I would also encourage that families rent out our baby trial diaper kit as it has a wide variety of diapers that parents can try and see which is their favorite, before purchasing. My personal favorite is the all in twos, where I can snap in the inserts for added absorbency. My other favorite is also the all in ones as they resemble a disposable that I can wash and reuse.
Why should parents consider newborn diapers? Are they necessary or worth it?
Absolutely. they are worth it unless you have an abundance of time on your hands to manipulate the sizing of one-size diapers and deal with issues of leaking diapers.
Newborn diapers are specially designed for newborns, where you will always get a great fit and eliminate leaks. Unlike one-size diapers that need to be tailored and often look like they are ill-fitting on your newborn, increasing the chance of leaking. Let’s face it, as a new mom who has time to be fussing with sizing a diaper and dealing with leaks?
What kind of accessories should a family get to make sure they have everything they need to have a happy baby and a clean, organized home?
For starters, I would recommend for parents to get 24-30 cloth diapers. As this will allow parents to do laundry every 2-3 days. Cloth diapers should be washed no longer than 3 days as they will begin to grow bacteria, mold and you don’t want a mountain of laundry to do if you wait a week. Also, it’s recommended to get 2-3 large wet bags as when one is in the laundry with the diapers being washed, you have a spare all ready to go to collect the dirty diapers. Diaper cream that does not contain any zinc as it will impair the absorption of the diaper.
Parents should also have 2-3 medium wet bags for outings. You can lay a flushable bio liner inside the diaper, and when you are changing you simply pick up the liner and toss directly into the toilet. The other way is by using a diaper sprayer where you will spray off the solids directly into the toilet. Cleaning up is a snap.
While on your website I also noticed that you not only sell cloth diapers, but Bumbini Cloth Diaper Company also offers rentals in Ottawa for Birth Pools, as well as online and in-person workshops reaching from Edmonton to Toronto, could you tell me a little bit more about that?
Given the current climate of COVID-19, I wanted to give mothers and families the choice of how they want their birthing experience to be. There are many families that prefer to birth at home as it’s a more intimate and empowering experience as they will have their midwife there to assist them during the delivery process. There is plenty of research that indicates that water birth is much easier on the mother for easing labour pains and stress.
I like the idea of cloth diapers. My sister considered buying them in the past because of all of the benefits that you mentioned but we’ve heard that cloth diapers leak? I don’t want to invest in something that won’t work.
I hear this concern all the time and I can assure you that contrary to popular belief, leaks are not a constant part of cloth diapering. Cloth diapers do not leak any more than disposable diapers. It really comes down to the fit! There are many reasons why a diaper might leak such as the diaper is too small or too big, there are gaps around the waist or legs. The diaper has not been prepped or washed properly.
Leaks should not be something that we should be afraid of, as it helps to guide parents. Leaks tell parents when they have overstuffed a diaper – creating gaps within the diaper or that the baby has reached a different developmental stage as they grow. In the vast majority of cases, a small tweak is all that is needed to fix these leaks.
Could I use cloth diapers during the day and disposables at night?
Sure, you can. That is the beauty of cloth diapers that disposable diapers don’t offer – that ability to tailor and customize your diapers. Parents are free to use cloth diapers during the day and disposable at night. For parents that want to cloth both day and night, that is not a problem. The only thing different you would do is add additional to ensure the baby sleeps longer without having to wake them up for a diaper changing. Who wants that?
Are there cloth diapers meant for boys and girls in terms of their function, or are they unisex?
Great Question! Our cloth diapers function the same way for both sexes, you only need to pick the design that you like for your baby and begin enjoying the benefits of cloth diapering.
Bumbini Cloth Diaper Company is certified organic, cruelty- free, ethically produced, fair trade, vegan, with products made of bamboo, organic cotton, & hemp, AND also has chemical-free skin-care products. What motivated you to go on this green journey?
I have always had a passion for going green. As these values were instilled in me at such a young age. Most of us don’t think beyond what we put at the curb to be picked up each week. I wanted to research the single-use life cycle of disposable diapers which perpetuates their continued consumption… The enormous amount of resources to produce before it’s discarded, causing undue stress on our natural resources! Left with many multi-generational long-term effects of dealing with it afterwards.
Did you know that 4 million disposable diapers are discarded daily in Canada? That translates to Canadians throwing out 1.5 billion disposable diapers each year. And it’s not just the diapers themselves that causes environmental problems. Also the waste matter within the diapers. Every time a disposable diaper is thrown out. It’s compounding to the 84 million pounds of untreated human waste already breeding disease. Potentially contaminating our groundwater.
This exact sentiment is echoed by Environment Canada… “The waste from disposable diapers in landfills has [become] a breeding ground for a wide variety of viruses, including: hepatitis B and polio from vaccines given to newborns.” Sadly, by the time you finish reading this interview. Over 166,000 diapers will be thrown away and enter our landfills in Canada. Finally, they’ll sit there for at least 500yrs waiting to decompose.
As a person who is curious by nature. I do a lot of research and it makes sense to use cloth diapers!
For parents who are used to using disposable diapers, how easy is it for them to make the switch, and do you have any advice for those planning on making the switch?
The biggest hurdle is the concept of cloth diapers. Parents will find that once they start using cloth diapers that it’s not as hard as it’s made to seem. You simply launder the diapers as you normally would with your laundry. Unlike disposable diapers, you can tailor the absorbency while knowing that you are not having chemicals near the reproductive organs of your little one.
Thank you so much for your time Anna, where should pondering parents contact you if they have any questions about getting started?
See Bumbini Cloth Diaper Company’s Social Media Channels
- Instagram: @Bumbini_Diapers
- Facebook: @BumbiniClothDiaperCompany
- Pinterest: Pinterest.ca/bumbini/
- Twitter: @bumbini
Thinking of cloth diapers for your newborn or something to pamper a new mom or mom to be? Anna at Bumbini Cloth Diaper Company is offering 15% off purchases (USE CODE: CYBMMC). Get your cloth diapers today, you won’t be disappointed!
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