A Happier Island with cloth diapering

I’ve been a bit distracted from our blog this year as we had our first baby — she’s the one on the right in the photo above. It’s been a whirlwind of extremes but things are starting to settle now… wait, I didn’t really say that out loud right? Knock on wood…

Industrial sized washer at Happy Island Diaper Service

A big challenge for my husband and I has been to keep our ethics in line with regards to parenting, and specifically, the waste created by our brand new tiny human. Culturally, we seem to ignore of one of the largest streams of waste — diapers. At the Zero Waste Canada Conference in Nanaimo last fall, I had the pleasure of listening to Ruben Anderson speak about a variety of interesting things surrounding behaviour change and waste streams. He shared with me that after fruit / veg and meat / dairy categories (both of which are compostable here in Naniamo), Diapers are the biggest waste in single-family homes. Wow, right? More wasteful than office paper, plastics or textiles!

One of the graphics I created for Happy Island Diaper Service to communicate their benefits.
Photo 2015-05-08, 2 49 07 PM
Soft micro-fibre and fleece diapers at Happy Island Diaper Service


A recent article from CBC states “roughly 4 million diapers go into landfills every day in Canada alone” — which breaks down to approximately 46 per second! And although they’d love to see people using cloth diapers, they promote the fact that a service can save even more on your environmental footprint by saving energy and water with industrial sized machines. Plus, having someone else clean messy, stinky diapers takes on big hassle out of parenting. Trust me, as our daughter has recently started solids (and this means solid waste too!) it’s something that makes ME happy each diaper change! We even use their wipes – just moisten with water – and throw it all into a bin with a filtered lid and each week they come by to refresh our stash. Somehow, this tiny cute little person, makes so much mess! It piles up each week and I’m more than HAPPY to exchange this for a fresh pile of soft diapers (without having to do anything more than take the bag down to the front door).


I’ve had the chance this year to get to know owners of a Nanaimo owned and operated company called Happy Island Diaper Service and it’s been great to get to learn a little more about what they do — “changing the world one bottom at a time!”. Owners Shawn and Jane Tanner are very committed to helping families make cloth diapering work for them. Even if you don’t use their service, they’re happy to share what they know.

Lisa’s Cloth Diaper Service Pros (+) and Cons (-)
+ Someone else does laundry and takes care of the poo (let’s face it, this is the best!)

+ You don’t need to buy the diapers outright (this can cost $300-500 for a stash, per size)
+ You just call when you need to upgrade sizes
+ Newborns go through an amazing number of diapers – they give you as many as you need, free of charge (I’m talking 12-15 a day!!)
– Need to have your baby in slightly bigger clothes as the diapers are much thicker than disposables
+ You can rent or buy your own covers (cute patterns abound!)
+ The wipes moistened with water are super soft on sensitive bums
– Takes on average about 30 seconds more to do a diaper change (liner and diaper cover)
+ Don’t need to go out to buy diapers (ongoing costs add onto your grocery bills)
– $25 / week feels like a lot sometimes (but it’s totally worth it!)
– When travelling, hard to cary around a stinky stash (can wash them yourself while away if you have facilities)
+ No charge for pausing your service (if you’re away on holidays) very accommodating
+ Better for environmental footprint and supporting a local company

The only major down side to using a cloth diapering service is when we travel. We’ve taken them to Tofino for a long weekend (keeping the smelliest in a corner in an airtight bag) but during the summer, travelling around the Okanagan in the heat, to various friends’ places it just made more sense to go with disposables. I can justify this as it’s only for a week or two when usually we use cloth. I’ve found Seventh Generation’s Diapers to be pretty good (and they’re mostly paper, not bleached and don’t use harsh chemicals).

Curious to know — how do you feel about diapers and the waste they can potentially create?






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