They might only be teeny in size but babies are huge when it comes to their impact on the earth. And like most modern expectant mums, I vowed that I would be an eco-warrior parent once my kid arrived.
After all, two billion nappies slide into Australian landfills each year, and your standard disposables take 500 years to decompose. That’s not even thinking about the endless wet wipes and those little plastic nappy bags.
But the reality is this – when my little dude recently arrived, I didn’t even know where to start. It’s confusing out there in eco-land and actually, I want something that’s good for the planet but also good for my baby’s cute peachy butt.
So, I decided to ask the expert. Aimee Marks is the Australian woman behind tooshies by TOM, a planet-friendly sustainable nappy made from natural plant-based materials that she designed after welcoming twins into the world in 2014.
She may need a few more of them now after welcoming her third child, Jack Bear, just a few weeks ago. I spoke to Aimee this week:
Tell me about eco-nappies and why mums should be thinking of them as an option.
As a mum of three, with my son born just weeks ago, I relate to how hard it is to find that perfect product – especially when there’s so much choice and you haven’t sleep for weeks or months.
But it’s important that mums look at the ingredients in the nappies they choose. If a brand isn’t revealing what is in them then there is a chance they’re packed with nasty chemicals.
We choose to use mainly plant-derived and sustainable materials in our nappies as opposed to opting for oil-based plastics, fragrances and lotions that can contain ingredients like parabens and phthalates.
What makes the tooshies by TOM eco-nappies different to conventional nappies?
When I had my twins, I was introduced into the world of disposable nappies. I’d always been conscious about my environmental impact but with two babies and a lot of nappy changes, reusable cloth nappies just weren’t a realistic option for me. It made me realise that there was a need for an eco-nappy offering that catered to modern families. So, Tooshies by TOM was born.
The TOM team is made up of a passionate group of women – most of us are mums ourselves – so every decision we make is with the next generation in mind, especially concerning health and the environment.
We can all relate to how hard it is to make informed product decisions when you’re balancing a family but our mission is to encourage people to make more conscious choices when it comes to the products they use on and in their body.
But what exactly makes them ‘eco’?
Almost half of each nappy is made from plant-based materials, where possible we use plastics that are made from plant based renewable resources, like sugar and corn instead of the crude oil-based plastics that most conventional brands use. It’s not just about the end-use landfill – the biggest carbon footprint reductions that can be made from disposable nappies is in their raw materials and production. We are using materials that are renewable and have lower carbon emissions.
We don’t use lotions and fragrances, which often contain nasties, and also ensure our processing is elementally chlorine free. All nappies contain cellulose – without it the nappy would not do what it is designed to do, but we choose only sustainability forested material.
How much of each nappy breaks down in the landfill compared to conventional?
Through the product development process, it became increasingly important for us to consider the entire life cycle of a nappy, looking at our environmental footprint during production as well as disposal.
As much as 85 percent of the environmental impact from a disposable nappy is related to its raw material and manufacturing before they even reach the shelf.
The biggest problem with covered landfill in the developed world is that it doesn’t get any air or light [which are] two essential components of decomposition. But by using plant-based “plastics” and sustainably harvested wood pulp we’re making a conscious effort to use renewable resources with a lower carbon footprint. In terms of the end product, 48 percent of each nappy is biodegradable.
Do you need to change the nappies more often than normal disposables?
Our nappies perform to the same standards as many of the leading brands, so they don’t need to be changed any more.
What about leaks? Do they still pack the absorption power?
Obviously, as a mum, it was vital to create a nappy that performs – no-one needs more nappy changes than is necessary! It’s a common misconception that the fluffier the nappy, the better the absorption. Our nappies are slightly slimmer and less ‘fluffy’ than some of the other conventional brands as using less cellulose significantly reduces the overall carbon footprint of the product. It also provides greater breathability and means bub has more freedom to wiggle and move.
Do they keep your child dry, avoiding nappy rash?
You can never guarantee that any brand of nappy won’t cause nappy rash as every baby and their skin varies. What works for one might not work for the next. But by choosing to eliminate lotions and fragrances from our nappies, we are reducing the chances of skin irritation.
What ages do tooshies nappies cover?
Our Tooshies by TOM nappies cater for all babies up to 18kg. We have five sizes available from Newborn, which I’m giving a good workout at the moment, to Infant, Crawler, Toddler and Walker. We also have a range of pure, hypoallergenic baby wipes that contain no alcohol, phthalates, phenols or parabens and are fragrance free.
And how much do they cost? Where can I find them?
We’re a premium, eco offering so our nappies are slightly more expensive than many of the other brands as in many cases, raw and sustainable materials are double the cost of conventional.
We’re finally on shelf at Coles (as well as Chemist Warehouse) making us the only eco, Australian-owned nappy on the shelf at big supermarkets meaning we can reach more Australian families — we’re so proud of that! We also now donate a portion of profits to The Babes Project, a local organisation helping Australian women experiencing crisis pregnancy.
Every time someone chooses tooshies by TOM it enables us to grow so we can make our nappies more price competitive, while also innovating our current and future products.
Have you used tooshies by TOM? Do you use eco-friendly nappies?
For more about how Aimee Marks turned an idea she had in high school into one of Australia’s most successful organic businesses, listen to our recent chat on Lady StartUp:
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From the team behind TOM Organic, tooshies by TOM launched in 2016 after founder Aimee Marks became a mum to twins. With Australian families using more than three million nappies every day (x10 for the number of wipes!), a locally-owned, sustainable range made with quality & natural ingredients was missing from mainstream channels. tooshies by TOM exists to ensure optimum performance without compromise on the environment or baby’s health. The TOM Co is passionate about building a healthier world for families and future generations to come. For more info, visit https://thetomco.com/