Baby wipes: The good, the bad, and the eco-friendly

I’ve spent a lot of time wiping butts around here over the last 13 months. And every time I do, I use two things: 1. a Diaper. 2. Diaper wipes. Based on that extensive experience (ha), I’m going to be reviewing the various brands of those items I’ve been using, from both a functionality perspective as well as an eco-cred perspective. First on the list: Wipes.

Huggies wipes:

Functionality:  Good. The wipes are thick, meaning you can clean up a baby’s butt fairly easily without having the wipe bunch up on you or make the mess worse. The wipes have a smooth finish which makes it easy to slide it across the baby’s butt. All Huggies wipes are scented, which I’m not fond of. The wipes container is resealable which does a great job at keeping the wipes moist, but it means that if you want to carry wipes with you you do need to move them to a different container as it’s too big to be conveniently portable. 

Eco-cred: Low. They come in a hard plastic container (although you can buy refills in a plastic bag and reuse the container). The wipes themselves are made from cellulose (a wood based fiber) and polypropylene (petroleum-based plastic) and are moistened with water and synthetic cleaning agents. The wipes are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable (while they do say the wipes will “begin to break down over a long period of time“, the vagueness of this claim tells me they won’t biodegrade appreciably anytime soon.) The plastic box and refill bag are both recyclable where facilities exist.

Price$5.85 for a box of 72 wipes at Well.ca and many other retailers.  Refill bag of 144 wipes costs $8.77.

Summary:  

They work very well, and they’re planet-killers. Avoid.

Nature BabyCare Eco Sensitive Wipes – Unscented

Functionality: good. They are not as thick as the Huggies wipes, but they’re still pretty good and don’t bunch up very easily. Unscented. The packaging is soft and flexible, so the good news about this is that you can chuck the wipes in to your purse. The closure on the package (it’s just sticky stuff that you peel off and press back on) does get kind of gummed up and doesn’t close as well after a while, so I often chuck the entire package into a used ziploc bag to carry them around in my purse, just to keep everything dry.

Eco-cred: Moderate, and trying to be better. The wipes are made from biodegradable viscose from sustainably managed forests and are compostable, and the packaging is transitioning – I saw references to the old packaging being chalk-based; Nature Babycare states that the new packaging is in fact biodegradable. The wipes are moistened with water and many organic moisturizers. There are also some chemical preservatives in the wipes including phenoxyethanol.  As a disposable product, these wipes have a one-way trip from manufacture to disposal thus requiring you to use a new wipe every time. While this practice is definitely higher eco-impact, I like what this company is trying to get at: The market for disposable products is huge and will never go away, so let’s try to make a disposable product that’s as eco-friendly as possible and that will lessen the impact overall.  (Although, some of these wipes have found their way in to the washing machine around here and they come out fully intact and actually reusable. Wouldn’t recommend it as a practice, obviously, but it’s interesting.)  These wipes are what we use when we’re out or travelling – I bought a big box in bulk to save on shipping costs and keep them stored for whenever we need them.

Price70 wipes for $4.99 at ecobotts.ca and various online retailers.

Summary:  A good wipe with functional packaging that’s trying to be more planet-friendly. A great choice if disposable is the only way you want (or need) to go.

Cloth wipes

Functionality: excellent.  In terms of cleaning up messes, using cloth wipes beats any other wipe hands down. The thickness, absorbency and size of the cloth means that even the most explosive diaper mess can be cleaned up rapidly, without getting any of the offending substance all over your hands. For use at Casa ecochick, I have about 25 Bamboobino baby washcloths to use as diaper wipes. (I liked the softness of the bamboo cloths, as well as the eco-friendliness of bamboo. Also, bamboo cloth is reputed to have natural anti-bacterial properties, which I liked since the cloths were going to be wet at all times and thus prone to growing things.)  I keep them moist in a container and handy at all times.

Downsides: Effort. Cloth wipes do need to be washed, obviously. If you cloth diaper, the wipes can be washed with the diaper loads. If you do not, you can do individual wipes loads as required – around here we run out of diapers and wipes about every second day. I consider washing diapers and wipes very low effort – throw them in the washer, throw them in the dryer or on the drying rack, stuff and done, taking up about 10 minutes of effort total from me. For the wipes, I simply take the cloths from the washer, fold them into a large container (I use a ziploc container), add a little more water and perhaps a few drops of lavender oil (which is meant to have skin-soothing properties, as well as keeping the wipes smelling nice), put the lid on and voila.

These wipes do discolor and stain after a while, particularly once your child starts eating solids like blueberries. Stains don’t bother me in the least, but if they bother you, a soak in Oxyclean would probably do the trick.

Eco-cred:  High. While the manufacturing process of bamboo, cotton or polyester fabric is high impact, the reusability means that the landfill impact is lessened exponentially. Water and electricity usage to wash the wipes should be considered, and remember that the wipes do not need to be dried in the dryer or otherwise since they will be remaining wet so that energy hog isn’t an issue.

Price:  Bamboobino washcloths–5 for $14 at Bamboobino.com (also available at many other retailers) or for a less expensive alternative try Piccolo Bambino poly-cotton blend washcloths — 12 for $6.99 at Babies R’Us and other retailers.

A word on price:  Even if you go with the expensive bamboo washcloths, you’re coming out way head in the long run. An outlay of $70 for 25 bamboo washcloths costs roughly the same as one box plus seven refills of Huggies wipes, which (assuming use of one package of 70/week) would take you through about three months of diapers.  You can see how using disposables would add up.  I’ve been using our cloth wipes for 13 months and they are still holding up extremely well; I don’t foresee having to replace them at all while my child is in diapers. Even adding in the cost of laundering and soap, by using cloth you’re coming out way ahead financially through the lifetime of diapering your child. 

Summary:  Cloth is by far the best butt-wiper, the best option for your wallet, and the best option for the planet.
 
Disclaimer: All products reviewed in this post were purchased by me. No products were provided for review by any company.

Abby Sprouts: eco-friendly family shopping – discount code and giveaway!

Congratulations to  Food According To Karen who said…
“There are so many things on the website it’s hard to pick. However, the Classic Dump Truck By Sprig is adorable. My grandson is at the ‘vrrmvrrm’ stage and would love the dump truck.”  You’re getting an organic onesie!

One of these days, I will write a long, boring-to-most post about cloth diapers, slings, sleep sacks and all the other stuff that you get in to when you’re trying to be an eco-friendly modern mama. Until then, my short summary on those items is:

1. Cloth diapering is awesome and better (functionally) than disposables. And trust me, I’m as squeamish as you are.
2. The sling saved my life for the first six months.
3. The sleep sack saved my life for the next three months (and counting).

And it’s always nice to find a one-stop shop where you can pick up all of these great baby needs and more all under one (virtual) roof. Abby Sprouts is based in Victoria, BC and is your one-stop shop for green, personally-tested baby and mama goods. From their website:

After being frustrated with searching for safe products throughout my pregnancy and for my baby I decided the green family needed a place where the leg work was done for them. I select every product Abby Sprouts sells based on earth friendliness, play factor, enjoyment, quality, and functionality. If it’s junk we don’t sell it. I’m a true believer in buying less but buying good quality.

From toys to clothes to an excellent selection of cloth diapers (including the favourite around here, Fuzzi Bunz), Abby Sprouts strives to provide a great and easy shopping experience, all while adhering to their own green policies. Check out their website or follow them on Twitter. And once you’re ready, use the code “EcoChick” for a 10% discount off everything on the site, including sale items. And shipping is free if you spend over $99. Nice!

And because Steph at Abby Sprouts is awesome, she gave us an adorable Love Peace Organic Cotton Onesie to give away (hooray!) So just scoot on over to Abby Sprouts and tell me what your favourite product is in the comments by Thursday, April 29. Don’t forget to leave me a way to contact you (email, blogger profile, whatever works). Giveaway recipient will be selected at random and notified. Good luck and happy green!

Credo bags: Reusable bags for any need!

These are brilliant.

You know when you’re at the grocery store, and you need apples, but you don’t want to take a plastic bag because, well, we all know what the deal is with plastic bags, but picking up a dozen or so apples and trying to carry them loose is just a pain, and the checkout person is trying to roll them all around on the scale and half of them fall off and gaaah.

Solve that problem but quick with Credo Produce Bags. I’ve been using them for a year, and they kick all kinds of butt. They come in various sizes, from “I need a couple of tomatoes” to “I need a dozen apples” to “I need three heads of romaine”.  Coming in regular and organic cotton, the produce bags have a drawstring closure and are fully washable in case your tomatoes get squashed. And: Made in Canada, whoop!  The bags start in price as low as $5, so are an easy budget addition to your reusable bag rotation.

You can buy Credo Produce bags as well as any of their other awesome stuff from their online store as well as at various locations across Canada.

Eco Baby Buys: Get ‘em while you can!

Hey, busy parents. Do you despair of finding eco-friendly yet nice and fun items for your baby at a good price? Eco Baby Buys is here to help.

Eco Baby Buys’ purpose in life is to source baby gear that meets their strict criteria – the use of non-toxic materials and dyes; the use of organic and/or recycled textiles and materials; the use of eco-friendly packaging; and a commitment and adherence to the standards of fair-trade – and to bring them to busy moms and dads at wicked prices.

But you have to act fast! Every day at 9 am EST they post a new deal at ecobabybuys.com, and they’re always limited quantities so you can only get them til they sell out. Once you place an order, Ecobabybuys takes over, maintaining the eco-friendliness by using recycled boxes and packaging material; printing only when necessary and using efficient printers and recycled unbleached paper; encouraging people to choose to ship their items with the USPS since postmen already go to your house every day, and more.

And what great items do they feature? They’ve sold great stuff from companies like Go Natural Baby, Kee-Ka, Keptin-Jr and loads more. So make sure you go sign up today so that you don’t miss out!

Bamboosa Bath Towels – snuggly ecofriendly clean

Bath time was a challenge around these parts for a while, what with the screaming and the… screaming. Babies seem to have a natural aversion to being bathed, as it turns out. But once the bath is done, the screaming quickly subsides as soon as we wrap her in this luxurious Hooded Towel from Bamboosa. Bamboo fabrics have become a real hit around here, with their soft, silky feel, wicked absorbency and natural antibacterial properties. The hooded towel is generously sized to give you lots of room to wrap baby comfortably and warm her up when she’s soaking wet, with its thirsty loops drying her off in an instant. Just hang the towel to dry when you’re done and you’re ready to go for next time. The towel comes in a variety of pretty colours, but we chose the nice natural colour here. And there’s even a Preemie sized towel for those babies who are in extra-wee sizes.

We got ours at Baby On The Hip, but there’s lots and lots of stores across the US and Canada where these great towels can be found. Check it out!

Blue Celery Baby Sling – hands free baby heaven

What do babies like most? To be cuddled and safe right next to Mama. But if Mama needs to do anything, anything at all like, say, eat lunch or perhaps brush her teeth, she needs a way to keep baby close while freeing up her hands. This is where babywearing comes in handy – the practice of carrying a baby in a pouch or sling close to the body. It takes the burden off Mama’s arms while still keeping baby near – practical for Mama and emotionally secure for both!

As babywearing has gained popularity in Canada, plenty of sling options have presented themselves out there, but the favourite around these parts is a gorgeous organic cotton sling from Blue Celery.

The sling comes in a fun, reusable lunchbag, with the sling itself consisting of two stretchy loops and a long sash, giving you a wide range of options for carrying baby – curled up low in a pouch for newborns, crisscrossed and sitting up for slightly older babies, riding on the hip for looking around for the curious types. The sling is easy to use and can be pitched in the washing machine when it gets puked on has lunch dropped on it leaky diapers dirty, which is a definite blessing around here. This is the number one baby lifesaving item in this house – don’t leave home without it!

The sling ranges in price depending on location but is generally priced just over $100. You can find it online (and in store in Ottawa) at Milkface, Red Chair Kids and plenty of other locations.

Kai Kids Shopping days

Just got a note from Kai Kids:

Save the date!

It’s back – our second Kai Kids on Location Shopping Day on the Danforth!

Many of you couldn’t make it to our first sale in July, but we hope you can make it out to our first of two holiday shopping days on Sat. Nov 1, 2008! (the next one will be on Saturday Dec. 6, 2008).

Taking place in a funky retail space on Danforth Avenue near Greenwood, we will have all of our organic, recycled, upcycled, eco-friendly and Fair Trade products on display to help you with your holiday shopping. Plus, for this one day only, we will have special sales on many items, from BornFree glass baby bottles to organic cotton onesies and sleepers to sexy, eco-friendly maternity and nursing wear!

You can place orders in advance for pickup at our one-day location, or shop in person. Come on out and try things on, have a good look at items you might be curious about and take advantage of our special sale prices.

You’ll also get a look at our newest products:

- Stainless Seal non-toxic, non-leaching, recyclable food containers

- Dress Me Up’s charming, handmade organic teething bon bons, soft cloth balls blocks, bibs and burp cloths

- Adorable organic cotton fruit and veggie-printed PJ’s from New Jammies

- Eco-Me’s make your own non-toxic cleaning kits for home and baby

-Unscented, organic, allergy and eczema-friendly Little Twig bodywash/shampoo, bubble bath and lotion.

Tell your friends, bring along your kids (we’ll have some toys and colouring books to keep the wee ones occupied), and mark your calendars! Join us for green parenting tips, conversation and some fantastic holiday shopping!

Saturday Nov. 1, 2006 at 1390 Danforth Avenue (just east of Linsmore Avenue, one-minute from Greenwood subway station) from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

For more information, email info@kaikids.com, or visit our blog at http://www.blog.kaikids.com

All the best,

Nancy and Peter

Nayla Natural Care: ecofriendly right from the start

A big ecochick welcome to a new entry in the ecofriendly Mama and Baby scene: Nayla Natural Care. This Ottawa-based online shop carries excellent natural products for maternity, breastfeeding, feeding, bath and body, and outdoors. The team tests every product they feature on the website, so you know that you’re getting the real scoop (they even rejected a few items they didn’t like!)

Nayla carries products from 20 different natural lines including All Things Jill, Fresh Baby, Kiddopotamus, Three Lollies and a whole whack more. Their site allows you to create or view a gift registry, and you can also buy gift certificates if you’re unsure of what to get. And you can always check out their blog to see what’s new and exciting.

Nayla Natural Care ships across Canada, so check them out!

Tashodi: Fair Trade and Totally Stylish Body Products

If you never want to go to a department store again to buy makeup or skin care products, it’s getting to the point where that wish can be granted. Natural shops are cropping up everywhere, with products ranging from body washes to soaps to lip balms to everything in between. Shops like Tashodi.

Tashodi’s creator, Natascha Rey, used her background in Fair Trade practices, Chinese and Homeopathic medicines, Aromatherapy and Reflexology to create a line of products from natural, fair trade ingredients. There’s a range of Pure and Certified Fair Trade Lip & Cheek Tints, pretty Body Bars, SLS-free Foam Washes, Fair Trade Body Scrubs and Pure Bath Soaks in a range of funky scents like “Tea & Lemon” and “Green Coffee” (imagine how good that smells!). You can also get nice gift sets like the one pictured above, which has a whole bunch of sample size Tashodi products all in a portable clutch made from native Canadian Birch (how cool is that?).

Tashodi also creates a Tashodi Bebe line with a Tip To Toe Wash or Bar and a Bebe Organic Massage Bar (neat!) which means you can shop for both you and your kidlet in one spot.

You can see all the products at their website and you can buy everything you want at their Online Store.

Sweetpea Baby Food: This is no jarred food, baby!

Every mom starts out with big ambitions: you’re going to hand-blend your baby food, you’re going to use all healthy, local, fresh organics, and you’re going to freeze it in batches, all ready for when baby starts eating solids. Then the reality of having an infant sets in and you’re lucky if you get your teeth brushed in the morning, let along creating hand-blended organic frozen cubes of baby food.

That’s why Sweetpea Baby Food does the job for you. Another baby business born out of need, as one of the founding moms was experimenting with healthy food blends for her own child and voila! a business was born. Sweetpea foods use all organic, natural ingredients, and everything is wheat and soy free with no artificial flavours, colours, or preservatives. They have foods suitable for 6+ month and 8+month babies, ranging from yummy Banana Blueberry to Sweet Potato, Veggies and Chicken, and more. They come in individual cubes to suit babies with all appetites, and the website even has great ideas to mix and match the flavours in plenty of different recipes to expand your baby’s food repertoire.

Sweetpea Baby Food is available across Canada as listed on their website.

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