We’ve stripped out the ‘fluffy’ descriptions, to give you the comparable facts - what materials are used in the nappies and how biodegradable they are – we’ve even checked what packaging is used.
The Mother & Baby Awards are now in their 27th year, each shortlisted product is rigorously tested by real parents on their own babies. It is widely considered to be the leading award for all pregnancy and baby products in the UK.
As WINNER of the 2020 Mother & Baby Award for Best Performance Disposable Nappy Range, our nappies were tested alongside 7 other shortlisted nappy ranges - Pampers Pure Protection, Pampers Baby Dry, Pampers Premium Protection, Tesco Fred & Flo Newborn Nappies, ASDA Little Angels First Pants – Peppa Pig Range, Mamia (Aldi) and Lupilu Newborn Nappies Size 1 (Lidl).
As mama’s ourselves, we know how awful it can be trying to get rid of nappy rash, just like eczema, once our little ones’ sensitive skin is irritated it can be very hard to get under control. Parents only ‘kind’ things against their babies’ skin - and no-one wants a nappy to leak! We think it is important to be able to find out what ingredients and materials are in the products we choose – is it chlorine-free or fragrance-free, and does it contain alcohol or phthalates?
A baby will use 5 thousand nappies before they reach the age of two and 3 billion nappies are thrown away every year in the UK. We all know that single-use plastic needs to be reduced and traditional disposable nappies and baby wipes are typically made from oil-based plastics such as polypropylene, polyethylene and polyester. These materials are not commonly recycled*, they take hundreds of years to break down when disposed of in landfill, which is still the most common method that UK councils choose for nappy waste.
In landfill this will depend on the amount of oxygen available, without oxygen even vegetables can take a long time to break down. There isn’t a consistent approach or information across all of the nappy brands to be able to fairly compare the speed of biodegradability. However, a natural material that is 100% biodegradable – even if just used within a % of a product – will always be a better environmental choice than a plastic material that won’t biodegrade. It is commonly known that traditional nappies made using materials such as polypropylene will still be largely intact in 500 years.
At Mama Bamboo we use SGS International for all testing and certification – they tell us that our nappies will biodegrade up to 60% in less than 3 months and up to 80% within 2 years. Nappies can be hot composted at home, however if you do pop them in your household waste, then your council probably uses landfill. We actively campaign against landfill. In Wales 1 million used nappies, whether plastic or eco, are recycled every week by NappiCycle. There are many examples of nappy recycling or industrial composting across the world, sadly, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland still predominantly use landfill for nappy waste.
Mama Bamboo was founded by mum of two, Laura Crawford, in 2018. Laura had become more and more frustrated by ‘greenwash’ and had simply not been able to find an eco-nappy that really worked for her with her son Alexander. As Laura says, "I simply felt that it couldn’t be ‘that hard’ to design a good quality nappy using natural materials."
After 9 months of extensive research, development and testing, Mama Bamboo nappies and wipes launched, made from moso bamboo fibre.
“Bamboo is the reason our nappies are so incredibly soft – plus it’s naturally anti-bacterial, breathable and temperature regulating. It’s not just a better from an environmental perspective, it makes the most perfect nappy.”
To Laura, choosing bamboo over cotton or wood pulp was an easy decision, “I discovered bamboo is the only woody crop that can grow fast enough naturally, to keep up with human demand. It doesn’t need excessive water or the false irrigation that cotton needs to grow, and it doesn’t need fertilisers or pesticides, ensuring the fibre doesn’t contain any nasty chemicals.”
Mama Bamboo was the first ever eco-friendly disposable nappy range to win, or even be placed as a runner-up in the Mother & Baby Awards.
"It goes to show that the best nappy can be made from natural materials. Why compromise the planet, and the climate change emergency, if you don’t have to?"
“We haven’t been able to find an alternative that works well enough to replace the side tabs or the elastic in the back panel of our nappies.” says Laura. “We thought we had found a semi-degradable tab replacement last year but when, we trialled the nappies, they weren’t strong enough to hold the nappy in place overnight, when the nappy is put under the most pressure.”
This explains why our nappies are only up to 80% biodegradable, and not 100% (yet!).
Yes – if we can find an alternative biodegradable material for the side tabs and elastic that is good enough to make the switch. Our ambition is to launch a 100% biodegradable nappy, however the nappies must work as well as they do today.
In 2019 we switched our nappy packaging from being recyclable plastic to a 100% compostable film.
Why? “Because far better that something can compost than need to be recycled. Most people know that what you can or can’t recycle varies depending on your council.” explains Laura. Our baby wipes are still packaged in recycled PET (plastic) which is commonly recycled again by local councils. “Unfortunately, the compostable material wouldn’t work to retain the wetness in our baby wipes, however the wipes themselves are 100% compostable and can simply be popped into food waste.”
Every aspect of our supply chain has been carefully checked, it’s important to us that we are aware of the impact our business has on our planet. This is why we also offset our shipping carbon emissions with the Bamboo Village Uganda.
With 14 billion baby wipes thrown away every year in the UK, wet wipes remain one of the worst single-use plastic pollution problems. We investigate the materials and ingredients used in baby wipes, explain why not all natural fibres are equal, and how our mama-of-two, Laura, designed our wipes to tick all the boxes - for baby, you and the planet.
Guest blogger Anna Brown chatted to some first-time mums (FTMs) about what it’s been like having a baby during lockdown. Discover some of the activities you can do from home with your new baby, where to find support if you need it ,and how to make lockdown life a little bit easier as a new mama.