Advice Column, Baby, Pregnancy, Pregnancy & Baby, Recently, Toddler

Pokkelokkie cloth nappies and why you need to join our tribe

  • Category Advice Column, Baby, Pregnancy, Pregnancy & Baby, Recently, Toddler

Did you know you will spend over R20 000 on single use plastics in your child’s diaper life. Over R40 000 if you have two babies. This is crazy. No one wants to throw money into a landfill where it will sit for 500 years. So here is the good news…you don’t have to!

Hi. My name is Kerryn. I am a mom, wife, eco warrior and the owner of Pokkelokkie cloth nappies. 

I started making cloth nappies for my first baby, as the thought of throwing a single use plastic in a black bag where it will stay for over 500 years just did not sit well with me, at all. My mum taught me how to sew when I was six years old. I would never have dreamed such a small skill would be such a big influence in my life today. Seven years ago, I was sat sewing a nappy (8 months pregnant), wandering if I was making the right decision about this cloth nappy business idea when a very beautiful and unusual looking feather floated in through the tiniest gap in my window. It landed on the very nappy I was sewing. This was the sign. Could it have been my mum?

Pokkelokkie focuses on the making of good quality cloth nappies that work. They are affordable, long lasting, trim, beautiful, thirsty and easy. I tried all sorts of types of cloth nappies and none have come close to what we make. 

I started the business on my dining room table, cutting one nappy at a time with a pair of scissors. I think we had about five sales a week back then. As time passed the orders grew. I decided to leave what I thought would be my lifelong teaching career, to pursue my own business. My husband, 6-month-old little boy and I relocated to the Garden Route in 2016 where I set up the business in the double garage attached to our rented home at the time. I employed one lady who helped me cut. I did all the sewing myself, day in and day out. We finally bought our current home where we turned the bottom floor of the house into the Pokkelokkie workshop. Over the past three and a half years our team has now grown to five staff members and me. We have recently moved the business to a factory premises in the industrial area in Knysna. We are growing. 

The use of cloth nappies is not as widespread as I would like it to be here in South Africa. One of the biggest challenges we face is ignorance. South Africa is still very much using single use plastics in fear of cloth nappies being “hard work” or “difficult”. Modern cloth nappies have come such a long way since the laborious soaking in huge buckets. None of that applies anymore as our reusables are simply rinsed and washed in a washing machine, then hung out to dry. That is really it. It is so easy. I couldn’t wait to get them clean so I could get my baby back into his cloth nappies. Most of my customers report this to be true.  It’s truly rewarding in a way that one will never have imagined. 

Since disposable nappies took the market by storm in the 70`s, cloth nappies simply got left behind, as convenience took preference over what is best for the environment. We are now feeling the effects of this poor decision. Because cloth nappies are not so mainstream yet, a new mum wanting to opt for cloth is often criticized by friends and family. This often leads to the new parents resorting to using single use plastics in fear of being judged by their peers. This is very sad. I hear of these stories on a regular basis. The lack of support is a huge deciding factor. Moms are told things like “you won’t manage….it’s too difficult”. This negative stigma is still very much present today.

Another issue here is the abundance of poorer quality cloth nappies and nappy styles here that just do not work. Inferior products put consumers off and prevent them from buying again. Nappies that leak due to poor fabrics/poor design coupled with little or no testing results in a cloth diaper that just does not function. Another problem is the importation of inferior products. Many people fall prey to companies who import cheaply made cloth diapers manufactured in bulk. Nappies are sold at cheap prices in large packs to new mums who know very little. They also claim to be “local” yet the items themselves are very far from that. Once a consumer has bought and the product has leaked, the chance they are keen to try again is slim to none. Disposables are then used for the remainder of the diaper life. Research is key in this industry. I always tell mums to know where and who they are actually buying from. Opt for a local company that actually makes the nappies here in SA and one who will support you if you need help. That’s us!

Something worth mentioning too is the presence of large “eco” disposable nappy companies. These corporates, who manufacture millions of “eco” single use plastics in massive factories abroad, claim the product to be biodegrable. But what most people don’t know is this product only biodegrades in a compost heap or a suitable environment… not in a black bag in our landfills. These nappies leave waste in the earth, are single use and are not earth friendly. They make parents feel they are doing their bit by choosing them, by joining their eco family. This pulls people away from cloth nappies. They appear “good for the environment” but they are anything but that. 

Amongst the challenges though, I do feel positive about reusables gaining popularity, because they are. We have entered an era where people are now much more aware of the impact single use plastics have on the planet. The damage is detrimental. Millions of bags of used nappies go to landfill daily. We are now living in a time where the younger (and older) generation are keen to help. They are opting for more sustainable living practices, making more greener choices and wanting to opt for reusable products across the board. They are not concerned about the washing, or the negative stigma attached to the use of cloth diapers. They simply want to make better choices knowing their choices will have a positive impact on their future. This is a wonderful opportunity for the cloth diaper industry as reusables become more popular as the days pass. 

It is ultimately better for baby, better for ones pocket and better for the planet. 

Try a Pokkie, and you will see. We will help you with what to get, and help you in the initial days where you get used to your new normal. 

Choose to reuse.

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