ZERO WASTE REVIEW: Products to make washing up less of a chore!

As a family of four, plus being a childminder who works from home, we do a lot of washing up (well, I say ‘we’ when I actually mean my mother mainly!) Up until recently we would buy multipacks of cheap sponges, which were used for a week or so before throwing away, but as these are made from plastic and will never fully degrade, I was keen to find alternatives; below are my thoughts on two products designed to replace these plastic washing up sponges

Safix Scrub Pad from Hereford Eco Products

Made from coconut fibres held together with natural latex, this pad is fully compostable and biodegradable at the end of its serviceable life, as it contains no plastic whatsoever

Because of the rough texture, it is especially useful for the heavy duty washing up, such as frying pans and saucepans where the food has baked on. I will admit that I did worry for the surface of my frying pan before I used this; initially it feels quite rough to the touch, but three months down the line, and my frying pans are as smooth as ever, and the pad has softened up a little too

We are still using our original scrub pad, where we would have used and thrown away at least six sponges in the same time span. A few of the coconut fibres have worked loose over that time, but the product is still perfectly usable, and will be for some time

I tend to soak the pad once a month in diluted apple cider vinegar for an extra deep clean, but as long as you rinse the pad after use and leave to dry, it will still last a long time

Another added bonus is that it is good for scrubbing potatoes from the garden before peeling them; that brought back fond memories of my childhood cleaning the spuds for Sunday lunch in my nan’s kitchen!

Washing Up Pad

Washing Up Brush from Boobalou

Another blast from the past with this one, as I remember my mum using a washing up brush when I was a child, but that was plastic with plastics bristles. This washing up brush has a beech wood handle and bristles made of Tampico fibres; Tampico is derived from the yellow leaf of the agave cactus and is useful for this purpose because it retains water, is robust and hard-wearing and keeps its shape. Because the bristles are plant-based, they are 100% biodegradable

The brush is perfect for general cleaning of plates, bowls and cups; the bristles aren’t so hard that they scratch the surfaces of the crockery, while the small head means that the brush can get into the hard to reach corners of mugs with ease

The brush does take a while to dry out in between uses; ours doesn’t dry out in the day but does overnight. The metal loop at the end of the handle is useful to hang up the brush to dry in between uses

Replacement heads are available; there is a knack to removing the old head (lots of wiggling involved to loosen the metal holding the head on!) but once you know what you’re doing, it’s simple enough to do a second time. It’s also good to know that the head isn’t just going to fall off randomly too! The video here is useful to watch to help you too

Washing Up Brush

Summary

We are very pleased with our replacements for washing up sponges; each product fulfils a slightly different use, and therefore we will continue to use both. The key test for anything related to washing up in our house is whether they pass my mother’s seal of approval… and they do; she is will be replacing her washing up sponges with these products, so there is no higher praise than that in my eyes!

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REVIEW: Nimble Laundry Lover

When Nimble contacted me and said that they had a liquid detergent that was suitable for use on reusable nappies, I’ll admit I was sceptical. The general rule is to use powdered detergent as that doesn’t leave residue on your nappies or washing machine. But I’ll give most things a go, so they sent me some to trial…

Firstly, I was impressed with the packaging; although the cardboard box was larger than it needed to be, I can reuse that (or it is suitable for recycling) and the packaging inside is also recyclable, although I will reuse that too

Packaging

The liquid is brown in colour, which could be a little off-putting to some users, but I prefer that to having extra colours added just to make it look more appealing

Colour

The packaging of the product itself is simple and clear, and the instructions are easy to follow. I would prefer some guidance on whether to add extra liquid if washing reusable nappies, or at the very least what constitutes a ‘normal’ load, as I struggled to work out how much to use initially; several washes down the line though, and I use one full capful plus an extra half a cap for my usual nappy load

Product

Nimble Laundry Liquid produces plenty of bubbles, and my nappies are clean and fresh out of the wash. It does take a little getting used to the scent of the nappies, as I am so used to my nappies not having any scent at all out of the wash; the perfume is intense, but NOT overwhelming and unpleasant

Washing

My nappies are clean, and the absorbency has not been affected by using this liquid rather than powder. I measured the absorbency of the same nappies before and after using Nimble Laundry Liquid five times, and there is no measurable difference in absorbency. The PUL is also unaffected by the product so far

If you would like to try this product, you can get a 10% discount on Nimble Laundry Lover over at Nimble Babies using the code WHNAS10

REVIEW: Reusable Nappies – EcoBebe All-in-Two Nappy

The EcoBebe nappy (right hand side in the photo below) is designed to fit from 7lb 7oz on the smallest setting up to 33lb on the largest, although if you do have a larger toddler I would be wary that it might not last up until that maximum weight, especially in comparison to the EcoPipo (left hand side in the photo below) which is definitely more generous in size.

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I was a tad sceptical when I saw the EcoBebe nappy; it looked a LOT smaller than the EcoPipo pockets I was already using on my youngest, and I wasn’t convinced it wasn’t going to fit her… But it did! She is on the largest setting at just over two years of age, and 50th centile for weight (I can’t remember what she actually weighs though, classic second child problem!)

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The fit is very trim, and a lot less bulky than EcoPipo pockets, partially aided by the insert. EcoPipo pockets come with one long trifold (bamboo and microfibre) which folds into three, whereas the EcoBebe insert only folds into two; it comprises of one long microfibre insert with a cotton velour outer on one side and a microfleece outer on the other for a choice of material to put next to the skin. As the insert folds over to fit into the wrap, it also unfolds for faster drying, which is a definite bonus in the torrential rain we are currently experiencing

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The insert fits comfortably into the cover, and I have also added an extra EcoPipo bamboo insert for extra peace of mind on occasion; I was unsure if this would compromise the fit of the nappy, but the double gusset at the leg means that there is no gapping once the nappy is fitted correctly

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One slight issue I do have is the proximity of the snaps to the edge of the tab; this can make it tricky to undo the nappy when changing, as there isn’t any material to grab onto, but I am unsure if this is just my particular nappy, or true for all products

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Overall, we are very happy with our EcoBebe nappy; the trim fit is great for an active toddler, and absorbency can easily be customised to suit without gaps and leaks occurring

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***ALL VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THIS BLOG POST ARE MY OWN***

REVIEW: Beeswax Wraps from Delilah & the Moon

Plastic Free July was a bit of a struggle for me; we already do most of the more mainstream plastic-free alternatives, including shampoo bars, reusable bottles, reusable straws, CSP, reusable nappies and wipes, so finding something different was a challenge. Then I spotted that a local company called Delilah & the Moon made beeswax wraps and I just had to give them a go; we have a dalek called Delilah, so it seemed appropriate.

Picking the fabrics was the hardest part of the process; so many to choose from! Thomas picked superheroes for his sandwiches, Katherine chose rainbows and bees seemed appropriate considering. I ordered a range of sizes so that I could experiment with different uses, and my order was ready to be collected in just over a week, along with full instructions for use and care.

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We have had the wraps nearly a fortnight now, and they are easy to use in everyday life. The bee wrap has been commandeered for cheese, and we find that we don’t get the white patches on it now. You can also take it to your local supermarket deli and get the cheese wrapped in it straight away; I’ll admit I got funny looks when I asked for it, but it’s all about making these options mainstream!

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We took sandwiches for the kids to a picnic yesterday wrapped in their chosen designs; no dried-out bread, and nothing to put in the bin at the end. The smaller sizes are fab for covering jars and bowls with leftovers, rather than throw-away clingfilm or foil. Simply heat the wax slightly using the warmth of your hands and it will adhere to the bowl or jar.

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The part that worried me most was washing them, as I was afraid of melting the wax out again, but the instructions that came with the wraps were clear and easy to follow (even for me!) and while I have yet to reset them, again the instructions are clear and simple, and the baking paper required is even provided.

Overall, I am very pleased with these, and have even been inspired me to try and make my own in the near future, but that will be a whole other post by itself!

REVIEW: Reusable Nappies – Smart Bottoms

About a month ago, Smart Bottoms kindly sent me five items of my choosing to feed back on; I chose a range of items that covered the breadth of their stock, including:

  • Smart Bottoms Dream Diaper 2.0
  • Smart Bottoms Two Smart Cover
  • Smart Bottoms Hemp Inserts
  • Smart Bottoms Oval Wet Bag
  • Smart Bottoms Diaper Clutch

1 Unboxing

Smart Bottoms Dream Diaper

The blurb on this one intrigued me; a hemp/organic cotton snap-in one with a pocket for extra boosting, and no need for multiple prewashes to build up absorbency as the materials had already been processed to remove the oils already. It all sounded too good to be true! So, after one wash, it was straight on the bum… with no leaks.

2 Dream Diaper

My youngest has just turned two, and the nappy fitted best with the rise poppers fully open, but there is still some leeway for more growth in there. The nappy is streamlined and not too bulky, which is perfect for an active toddler, even with extra boosters in the generous pocket. The rolled leg seams allow for easy fitting into the knickerline without leaks and red marks and the snap-in insert is narrower than the nappy itself, so no risk of the insert poking out when fitting the nappy.

Smart Bottoms Two Smart Cover

This is my daughter’s current favourite, because of the doggy print! At night she wears a fitted nappy with extra boosting between nappy and wrap; the generous flaps at either end of the wrap were perfect for holding the extra booster in place while trying to fit the wrap onto a toddler bent on escaping. The double gusset is also good for allowing the room for extra boosting between nappy and wrap.

3 Wrap

Like the Dream Diaper, rise poppers are fully open (unsurprisingly over a bulky night nappy plus additional boosting) but the wrap fitted well into the knickerline without leaks or leaving red marks. My youngest is in her night nappy combination for 10-13 hours at night, and the wrap has not once leaked.

Smart Bottoms Hemp Inserts

Extra boosting between nappy and wrap is a must for my daughter at night. The hourglass shape means that these boosters fit comfortably into all of the various brands of wrap that we use; the narrower middle section means she can still walk in her night nappy combination without the extra booster rubbing the inside of her legs (this has happened previously with rectangular boosters) They also fit into the pocket of the Dream Diaper, in case you need to boost that too, and are slim enough to add boosting without the bulk.

4 Hemp

The only negative with the boosters is that they quickly have a bobbly appearance after a few washes; this is just aesthetic, and does not affect the performance of them in any way.

Smart Bottoms Oval Wet Bag

I’m always on the look out for a large wet bag suitable for holding three days’ worth of nappies; we currently use PlanetWise hanging wet/dry bags (two in rotation) but can now replace the older one with this in our rotation. The two sturdy straps allow for secure hanging on the back of the bathroom door, away from inquisitive fingers. I particularly like that you can change whether the straps go across the zip or one either side of the zip due to the poppers on each; personally we preferred the straps either side of the zip, which meant we could unzip the bag without unhooking the straps first.

5 Large Wet Bag FINAL

I’ll admit I wasn’t sure if I would get along with a vertical zip, but it actually works well; it is easy to pull down with one hand, which is important if you are holding a dirty nappy in the other! The bag holds 12-15 nappies comfortably, and the fact that the zip goes nearly all the way down both sides of the bag means that it is easy to empty into the washing machine on wash day. Despite the weather being warm, no smells escaped from this wet bag, and it dries surprisingly quickly.

Smart Bottoms Diaper Clutch

I have a variety of different sized wet bags in my collection, so I can choose the most appropriate size for the length of time we will be out; as a childminder I regularly have at least three children with me, plus a double buggy (and sometimes a very active dog!) so a strap that will attach to the buggy is a must, as well as not taking up too much space on the buggy itself.

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The Diaper Clutch has proven to be the perfect size and shape for my ‘emergency nappies’, several spare disposable nappies and a pack of disposable wipes that hangs on my buggy at all time, in case of emergency. Deceptively spacious, the Diaper Clutch easily fits in all the emergency supplies, and the sturdy handle that poppers closed hangs safely on the handlebar of the buggy; it has even survived the eldest tugging on it in a strop of the way home from pre-school!

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I’d like to thank Smart Bottoms for sending these items to me to test drive, and I am happy to answer any further questions my readers have on them!

***ALL VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THIS BLOG POST ARE MY OWN***