8 April 2011

Dandelion Earth-Friendly Toys and Utensils

By: Laura Trotta

Many of you many know that I am rather fussy about toys. I prefer a simple toy made from sustainable sources over the mass-produced plastic items that drive me crazy with beeps and lights.  

The Dandelion range of earth-friendly goods is sure to please the most discerning parent. From silky soft bamboo rattles (1) to organic cotton toddler dolls (2), play time can be safer for bub and have minimal environmental footprint too! 

Fussy about what your baby puts in their mouth? Have piece of mind with the new Dandelion teething keys (3) which are BPA-free, made from a sustainable corn resource and are a bargain at $12.95. Prefer something softer? The Organic Pink Bunny Teething Blanket (4)  is great for comfort and with a portion of proceeds donated to breast cancer research, it's a buy that will rest easy on your conscience. If you prefer a more traditional teddy, the Organic Plush Bear (5) is a gorgeous best seller at $34.95. 

Dandelion have a wonderful range of baby and toddler eating utensils too (6). Made from corn, they are BPA and phthalate free. The Infant Feeding spoons are just the right size for those early months of introducing solids and as they come in a pack of six, if you lose one in the nappy bag, you'll always have another close by! 

The Dandelion range starts from $12.95. 

For your chance to WIN a set of the new teething keys, tell us in 25 words or less what your favourite Dandelion product is and why. Winners will be announced midday Friday 15 April.

 

 

 

 

 

CATEGORY: organic, teethers, toys, utensils, dandelion | POSTED BY: Meg Supel |

5 April 2011

Make this Easter a Fairtrade One

By: Laura Trotta

I must admit it; Easter is one of my favourite times of the year. Nice weather, public holidays and an excuse to eat one of life's greatest pleasures - chocolate.

Those of you close to me would know that chocolate is definitely my weakness. And it would appear that I am not alone. Australians lead the world in Easter Egg consumption per capita, with the average Aussie consuming 20 eggs each year.1

The shiny Easter Eggs in the shops are a striking contrast to chocolate in its natural state. Chocolate is a product of the cacao bean (also known as a cocoa bean) which grows in pod-like fruits on tropical cacao trees. Most of the chocolate we eat has its origins in the developing world, with about 70% of the world’s cacao beans grown in Africa.

Like several crops grown in the developing world, cacao has had its fair share of corruption scandals in recent times. To ensure the chocolate you eat is grown under ethical and eco-friendly conditions, check that it is both certified organic and Fairtrade. Organic Times and Green & Black's are two of my personal favourites.

Fair trade chocolate is chocolate with a conscience, meaning we can enjoy the luxury of chocolate whilst making a difference to the life of producers in the developing world.

Fair Trade is unique in offering the following important benefits to producers:

  1. Stable prices even when world markets fall.
  2. A Fairtrade premium on top of the agreed Fairtrade price to help producers improve the quality of their lives.
  3. Involvement in Fairtrade International (FLO), a non-profit multi-stakeholder body responsible for the strategic direction of Fairtrade.
  4. Empowerment of farmers and workers through democratic structures and transparent administration (a requirement of certification).
     

So, if like me, you will find it hard to kick your chocolate habit this Easter, look for the following logo to ensure you are at least making a difference to the lives of cacoa growers in the developing world.

References

1. http://www.industrysearch.com.au/News/Australia-leads-the-world-in-Easter-goody-consumption-16381

2. http://www.allchocolate.com/understanding/where_chocolate_comes_from/

 

CATEGORY: Easter, eggs, Fairtrade, chocolate | POSTED BY: Meg Supel |

1 April 2011

Nappy Review: Reusable Cloth Nappies

By: Lisa Reid

There are now so many factors to consider when choosing a nappy system for your baby, that one could be forgiven for being a touch overwhelmed and sticking with the 'convenient' single-use disposable nappy option.

However, while approximately 95% of Australian babies currently wear disposable nappies1,  there is a growing trend towards cloth nappy use. Unlike the cloth nappies of our parents and grandparents era, which mainly comprised terry towelling or flannelette squares and plastic pants, today's cloth nappy user is spoilt for choice. 

The main types of modern cloth nappies (MCNs) available include:

  • Flat nappies – traditional terry towelling or flannelette cotton squares commonly used before the introduction of disposable nappies;
  • Prefolds – similar to a flat nappy, but have a thicker, more absorbent central layer;
  • Fitted nappies – are usually an hour-glass shape, have elasticized legs and waist and need a separate waterproof cover (eg. Baby BeeHinds Bamboo Fitted Nappy);
  • All-In-Ones – usually an hour-glass shape, have a built in waterproof cover and have the absorbent layer attached (eg. Baby BeeHinds or Cushie Tushies Minkee All-In-Ones).
  • Pocket - a type of All-In-One which has the liner and cover sewn together (eg. Baby BeeHinds Magic All Multifit). This allows the absorbent layer to be removed when washing, which in turn reduces drying time.

 

Regardless of the style, reusable cloth nappies comprise the following three key components (not too dissimilar to single use disposable nappies):

  1. A waterproof outer layer typically made from polyurethane laminate (PUL), wool or microfleece;
  2. An inner liner designed to keep moisture away from skin; and
  3. An absorbent layer which is usually placed between the waterproof outer layer and the inner layer and is typically comprised of bamboo, hemp, organic cotton or microfibre.

 

Most MCNs are made from the following four types of materials:

  • Cotton (including organic) – the original cloth nappy material is long-lasting, easy to wash (can be soaked and bleached) and is a natural fibre;
  • Hemp (including organic) – more absorbent than cotton, hemp is easy to maintain, is also a natural fibre and is reported to have antifungal and antibacterial properties2;
  • Bamboo – more absorbent than cotton and hemp, is made into viscose or rayon from wood fibre from the bamboo plant;
  • Microfibre – synthetic, oil-based material, which is as absorbent as bamboo but dries much quicker.

 

Other materials used to a lesser extent include:

  • Microfleece – has the ability to wick moisture away from the skin and also dries quickly.
  • Wool – a natural fibre used primarily for nappy covers, as it can absorb 30% of it’s own weight and is highly breathable.
  • PUL – polyurethane laminate - applied to fabric to make it waterproof (2)

 

Cushie Tushies are a terry-square-free-zone!

 

When deciding whether to use single-use disposable or reusable cloth nappies, it’s a good idea to think about the following factors:
 

Financial Cost

Individual cloth nappies can cost between $15 to $40 each. The total financial cost of a cloth nappy system can therefore vary between $200 to $1500, depending on number of nappies and type bought. This higher upfront cost is considerably less than $4000 per child* for single-use disposables. The financial savings of cloth nappies are compounded when used for subsequent children.

 

Environmental Cost

For one change of a cloth terry towelling flat nappy (equivalent to one disposable nappy#), the following resources are used:

  • approximately 17L (1 nearly full nappy bucket) of water1
  • 0.06 kWh of energy1
  • approximately 4 g crude oil3

 

Reusable cloth nappies only contribute 1.9 g of solid waste1 to landfill when they are reused around the home. To help reduce the environmental impact of using cloth nappies, wash in a water-efficient washing machine using cold water and line dry. Direct sunlight will further sanitise your nappies2 and help bleach any remnant stains.
  

Health Risks

Anecdotal evidence suggests that in the past, high incidences of nappy rash were attributed to cloth nappies, which were not as absorbent as today's MCNs nor changed frequently enough. The higher absorbency of MCNs, frequent nappy changes, ‘bare bottom’ time and a decent barrier balm have all helped make nappy rash a thing of the past, along with nappy pins and plastic pilcher pants.

 

Time and Effort Required

The perceived increase in time and effort required is often a barrier stopping many people using cloth nappies. Cloth nappies do require washing, drying and assembling prior to fitting to baby, however you don’t need to go to the shops every week or so to buy your nappy stash. A study conducted by Darebin Council in 2007, found that using a reusable cloth nappy system, took an extra 5 minutes each day.4

 

Summary

Choosing a nappy system for your baby is your decision and one best made after careful consideration of what’s important to you and what will suit you and your family. 

 

* Assumes a baby uses about 10 nappies per day for the first 3 months and then an average of 6 nappies per day for the next 24 months, with an average cost of 50c per nappy.

# Assumes nappy system comprises 30 nappies, changed on average, 8 times a day over a 2.5 year period. Note: Figures are based on cotton terry towelling flat nappies. Can therefore be assumed that the amount of crude oil, energy and solid waste consumed during the production of modern cloth nappy materials might be slightly higher. At the time of writing this article, information regarding materials other cotton was unavailable.

References:

1. http://www.pdf4me.net/view.php?url=http://www.crdc.com.au/uploaded/file/E-Library/Climate%20Change%20July%2009/LCA%20Cotton%20v%20Disposable%20Nappies%20OBrienetal2009.pdf

2. http://www.nappynetwork.org.au/content/reusable-nappy-info;

3. http://www.ahpma.co.uk/docs/LCA.pdf

4. http://www.dialanappy.com/docs/Darebin_Nappy_Trial_July2007.pdf 
 

CATEGORY: environmental, financial, health, impacts, MCN, nappy, cloth | POSTED BY: Meg Supel |