Monday, January 11, 2016

How the California drought conditions have affected our small family cloth diaper business

As many of you know, Little Seedlings® Diapers is a family owned small, California based, business solely run and operated by me, Samantha White. As many of you also know, California is in a severe drought. Like many others in California, our household has long been practicing water-conservation for many years. However, the state of the current drought has reached epic proportions and is now considered to be one of the most severe droughts on record for California. Households are being fined for overuse of water outside of their allotted monthly budgets. Our lawns are dying and we dread laundry and dishes so much that every load is completely full in an effort to further conserve. 

These conditions have forced me to rethink how I construct the soaker systems for my diapers. For the past 5 years that I have been in the cloth diaper industry I have always pre-washed/prepped the absorbent heavy organic bamboo cotton fleece used in the soaker systems. What this means is a lot of extra water use to wash large batches of this fabric! This fabric is highly absorbent and drinks up a lot of water in the wash. In order to continue to provide high quality, exceptionally well crafted diapers I needed to develop a soaker design that would eliminate the pre-washing/prepping step in construction. 

There were several issues I had to think of when designing the new soakers. 

Q: How much shrinkage to account for in the design? 
A: Easy! I added enough width and length to account for the shrinkage that will happen when you wash/prep your soakers.

Q: How to account for the differing shrink rates of fabrics used in the soaker? 
A: There was only one way around this one. Use all the same type of fabric. Since the shrink rates of fabrics differ so much, depending on fiber content, it became impossible for me to sew a liner to the top of the diaper without it becoming loose and baggy after the first wash. Previously I have always topped each soaker with a microfleece layer or coordinating cotton velour. But do not fear...the organic bamboo cotton fleece is super soft against your baby's skin.

Q. What if someone still wanted something to go between their baby and the organic bamboo cotton fleece? 
A: I now include a finished microfleece liner with each diaper to lay on top of the main soaker to help wick wetness away from your baby's skin.

So here it is! The new Little Seedlings® soaker system. It's more trim yet more absorbent than ever before!

The Little Seedlings® snap-in soaker is made up of multiple layers of heavy organic bamboo cotton fleece. 70% bamboo, 30% organic cotton.
This material is highly absorbent and perfect for use in cloth diapers due to it’s unique antibacterial quality. An antimicrobial bio-agent called “bamboo kun” is found naturally in the fiber. This “kun” makes the bamboo a naturally antibacterial, antifungal and odor resistant fiber.  

Included with your diaper is:
- The main, two petal, snap-in soaker system that has two sets of snaps to allow the best positioning for your baby’s needs
- A separate newborn soaker that can also be used as a booster for the regular soaker, by snapping it in between the petals of the main soaker.
- Also included is a microfleece liner to lay on top of the main soaker to help wick wetness away from your baby’s skin.

Little Seedlings® soakers need to be washed/prepped before use (**note: the outer shell does not require any prepping so you only need to launder the soaker to prep your diaper).
Bamboo retains some of its natural oils and therefore needs to be washed several times to achieve maximum absorbency. Although your diaper is ready to use after only one wash, it will become more absorbent with multiple wash/dry cycles.
Wash: Prep your soaker by washing on a normal hot cycle with cloth diaper safe detergent (laundry soap WIHTOUT added fabric softeners). Synthetic fabric softeners can cause your soaker to retain a waxy build-up that will affect the absorbency in a negative way. Natural softeners like Mrs. Meyers, Ecover, and Seventh Generation can be used without the problem of build-up.
Rinse:  We recommend at least two rinse cycles to remove any excess soap residue that can irritate your baby’s skin.
Dry: Tumble dry on medium heat or line dry.
**Remember that your soaker will become more absorbent with multiple wash/dry cycles.