Eco-fabrics, those that are natural or better for the environment are obviously the ideal choice for reusable products. There are a number of other things that need to be taken into consideration when choosing fabrics for cloth nappies and reusable menstrual products. Here’s a look at the fabrics that we choose and why we have selected them.
Why we use different fabrics
I have to admit that when I first started using cloth nappies, I hadn’t really given a great deal of thought to the different types of fabrics out there. Thirteen years ago, when I was pregnant with my first baby, I had assumed that using cloth nappies would mean me entering a world of plastic pants, safety pins and cotton squares. I soon discovered that there was much more to modern cloth nappies, with bamboo, PUL and other fabrics being used. Over the years that I’ve been working with reusable products, things have changed even further and while there is a great deal of choice, each type of fabric comes with advantages and disadvantages. When selecting a fabric, I usually take into consideration a number of things:
- How expensive if the fabric?
- Is the fabric effective at doing the job I want it to do?
- Does the fabric last well?
- How environmentally friendly is it?
- Is the fabric readily available?
We do use a number of man-made fabrics in our products. For the most part, it would seem that these cannot be called eco fabrics. In many cases though, these fabrics offer something that we cannot get through a natural fibre. In the case of PUL (polyurethane laminated polyester) the fabric is waterproof and breathable. There are other fabrics that can be used as an outer layer, such as wool, but these have disadvantages too. Wool can be harder to care for and isn’t actually waterproof but prevents water from leaking, by allowing the fabric underneath to breath and for some liquid to evaporate. Other polyester fabrics, such as suede cloth or microfleece offer a stay-dry feeling against the skin, which just isn’t possible with a natural fabric. Still other man-made fabrics, such as microfibre are quick-drying and relatively inexpensive, making it easier to offer products that are affordable.
A lot of the fabrics that we use are natural fabrics. Our Ecobots nappies are made from cotton, bamboo and cotton mixed or organic cotton. If you are looking for a natural option then they are a great choice. We also have bamboo inserts for our dinky nappies and hemp for night times. The main issue with natural fabrics is that they can take longer to dry. From an eco point of view, many natural fabrics are heavy on resources to produce. Cotton, in particular, can have a huge impact on the environment. We attempt to use sustainable sources, but all production will have some impact.
The fabrics we use – an eco view
Our products come in a range of different fabrics. As many of our products are designed to offer an affordable choice to people who want to use cloth nappies and reusable menstrual products, we have focused on those fabrics which work well and are not expensive. For that reason, our menstrual pads, in particular, are made from polyester and other similar fabrics. Our nappies have both natural and man-made fabrics. There are concerns about microplastics leaching into the water from polyester fabrics. We are working on ways that we can offer affordable products that work and minimise this process. While our fabric choices might not be perfect, we hope that by offering affordable reusable products that work and so in many ways all of our fabrics are in fact eco-fabrics.
Choosing eco-fabrics for you
Choosing the right products that work for you, can be quite complex. We are always looking at new items and considering what we should do to make them perfect for you, our customer. We’d love to hear your thoughts on what fabrics you would like to see us use. Please comment on this post, or on our facebook page.