Make the most of waste by the Auckland Council

Waste-free parenting

A Papakura midwife, and new mother, has taken a good hard look at disposable nappies and their alternatives.

Published: Wednesday 1 March 2017

Delivering babies safely into the world, and helping young families, has been Arnika Matchett’s work since she graduated as a midwife.

Thinking about the next generation, and the world in which they’ll grow up, has deepened her concern for the natural world and how best to care for it.

Now that she has a child of her own – 16-month old Hazel – she has redoubled her efforts to make sure she has a minimal footprint on the planet, and is spreading the word through both her work and also to friends and family.

Arnika was struggling to get the hang of cloth nappies when Hazel was just three months old, so when she heard The Nappy Lady Kate Meads was giving an Auckland Council-facilitated workshop she jumped at the chance.

“It’s such a great introduction for a new mum. Kate makes it so easy; she focuses on all the practical concerns, shows you how to do everything and by the end of it you realise that not only is it more environmentally friendly, but also cheaper and easier than standard disposable nappies. She’s totally non-judgmental and women leave her talks feeling empowered and ready to give it a go.

“You also end up with three brand new cloth nappies for your $30 entry fee, which is an amazing start.”

Arnika will be hoping for a similarly enthusiastic reaction when she talks to a new mothers group next month, her first time speaking about how to use cloth nappies, among other environmental initiatives.

Instead of disposable wet wipes, Arnika paid just $14 for re-useable, washable cotton wipes, which have now lasted over a year. She also purchased a cloth swim nappy, rather than continuing to shell out for the expensive and wasteful disposable option.

Arnika works as a midwife at the Papakura Birthing Unit, and through her work she can, where appropriate, spread the cloth nappy message to new mums.

“Sometimes women don’t want to know when they’ve just had a new baby, and you’ve got to respect that, so I pick and choose when I give them my earth spiel,” she laughs.

“There’s some strong marketing out there, I’m trying to balance that up a little bit, and there’s a lot yet to do in terms of education.”

Arnika is keen to share her findings, and is actively making contacts to do so.

“I think it’s part of mothering. It’s no more than what our foremothers did.”

Waste-free at home

Arnika also came out of the Auckland Council workshop armed with information on how to sustainably transform other areas of her life.

Following tips in the workshop booklet, Arnika began to compost all of her food waste at home, and actively sought to reduce her household landfill waste, cutting it by about 50 per cent. She also buys many things second-hand, from children’s clothing to toys.

“There’s a great local Facebook group where things like that are given away or traded, so that’s amazing for new parents, especially when money can be an issue.”

Auckland Council’s Waste Free Parenting workshops are held across Auckland every couple of months.

Delivered by The Nappy Lady Kate Meads, they are full of tips and ideas for reducing family waste. They take a close look at cloth nappies, from styles available, to how best to take care of them.

Everyone that attends the workshop receives a waste free parenting kit valued at $90. The kit includes a cloth nappy, items that reduce lunchbox waste, and other reusable items.

For workshop dates and locations click here