It is estimated that a baby needs 5,000 disposable diapers till it is potty-trained. For the parents, this burden even at a minimal cost (`10 per diaper) comes to `50,000. Not just this, use of chemicals, skin and hormonal problems associated with disposable diapers and its slow disposal rate in the landfills have been raising health and environmental concerns. In contrast, the factory-made washable cloth diapers (not the homemade triangular pieces of cloth) cost a fraction of that with an average 50-80 per cent savings. They are healthier and much gentler on the environment. A cloth diaper costs more upfront, but can be used many times and turns out to be cost-effective.
Mother and entrepreneur Sneha Thakkar, who switched over to cloth diapers for her baby, found that there were very limited options available in the country. So she started designing her own product and came out with a variety using natural and organic materials. She launched a start-up, Fig-O-Honey, in 2016 which today offers eco-friendly cloth diapers online that are reusable, affordable and safe for the baby.
Sneha adds, “I was aware of the usage of dangerous chemicals in disposable diapers. Everybody knows exposure to chemicals and skin sensitivity at such a tender age is not good. Dioxin that is used in the making of disposable diapers is a known carcinogen. Further, disposal of diapers is difficult and creating a huge waste management issue. A disposable diaper takes 500 years to decompose.”
Her cloth diapers are made of soft, stay-dry fabric on the inside. It reduces baby’s exposure to harmful chemicals. The inserts are made of absorbent fabric and the outer layer is waterproof. They are one-size diapers and can be adjusted to sizes XS to L (4.5kg to 15kg) with easy snap buttons. They are waterproof, washable and the adjustable snap buttons allow the diaper to be adjusted to a growing baby.
Explaining the usage, 37-year-old Sneha says, “The diaper material is stain-resistant and can be washed easily. In fact, on our website, all the trouble-shooting tips are provided. We have 21 kinds of cheerful and colourful prints. Most of these have been derived from nature-inspired themes and smileys.”The cost of the diaper is `499 per piece with inserts costing `99 each. For heavy wetters, two inserts can be used. With the cloth diapers, one would be requiring 12 pieces till the baby turns 2.5 years which would cost just `6,000.
Every mother wants the best for her child, says Rashmi Singh. “I am using these cloth diapers for the last two months. I love the quality, print, colour, etc. My baby wears them 3-4 hours without any leak. They are baby skin-friendly and environment-friendly too.”Sneha is now planning to talk to doctors, maternity hospitals, and also meet and greet new mothers so that they can switch over to cloth diapers. She concludes, “My goal is to make cloth diapers for every section of society. I hope many parents adopt this and if by any chance, they visit a landfill, they will know why and how necessary it is for waste disposal. Although people inherently care, they are not aware of the existence of such diapers which are re-usable, safe, healthy, eco-friendly and affordable.”