Making Cents: Bringing up baby the sustainable way

Becoming a parent can be a trigger for people to start thinking about living in a more sustainable way, as we are discussing all month in the Irish Examiner

Looking ahead to your child’s future can really focus the mind on the need to look after our natural resources for future generations.

It is ironic then that the arrival of a new baby to the home often marks the start of a period of heavy resource usage, with plastics and disposable items likely to play a bigger role in your life than they ever have before. 

From nappies, to toys, to clothes they outgrow in weeks, early childhood does not appear to be compatible with sustainability.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way and more parents are looking at ways to reduce waste during their children’s early years.

The most obvious way is to use reusable nappies. I have to be honest and say I used disposable nappies throughout my daughter’s infancy, and wouldn’t judge anyone who does the same. 

Those early months are hard enough and parents need to do what works for their family.

However, if cloth nappies are something you would like to try, advocates such as Irish resource Cloth Nappy Library says using them is easier now than ever before.

“Forget all the negativity and misguided opinions, most of them have no basis,” say the parents involved.

“We are here to guide and support you all the way if you choose to give cloth a go and we really hope you do as the benefits far outweigh all the negatives,” they said.

In addition to the benefits to the planet, you will also be financially rewarded. 

The group’s website is an excellent resource for parents and they have a calculator to help work out the potential savings. 

Parents can work out how much they are likely to spend on disposable nappies before their child is potty-trained and compare it to the cost of cloth nappies. 

Even adding in the costs of laundry, the savings are likely to run to hundreds of euro. 

And as they point out, disposables cannot be used on a second baby, so you will end up spending the same again for each sibling. 

With cloth nappies it’s a once- off spend. Those savings also extend to bin charges. 

Parents of newborns are often thunderstruck by the sheer number of nappies their bundle of joy can get through, and those nappies can fill up a bin like never before.

If you are concerned about the upfront costs of cloth nappies the Cloth Nappy Library is there to help. 

As the name suggests, they operate a lending service. 

Their Newborn Nappy Loan costs €45 and includes 20-24 nappies that should be suitable from birth to about six weeks. 

They also have trial kits and options for older babies and potty-training. 

If you then decide you want to invest in your own nappies, they also provide links to recommended suppliers.

Parents also have to deal with babies outgrowing their wardrobe in a matter of weeks in the early days. 

New babies also tend to need items, from carry slings to moses baskets, that they will rapidly outgrow. 

A good option is to look at buying and selling used items rather than going for new all the time. 

Traditionally, family and friend groups traded used clothes and items and the advent of the internet has broadened this out further. is a website dedicated to arranging events where parents buy and sell baby, children and maternity goods.

Parents of older children can sell on their no-longer-used items to new and expectant mums and dads. 

Baby-related businesses from the area can also take out stalls at these events.

Buyers can expect to pick up clothes for very competitive prices and larger items for possibly a third of the retail price. 

Not only is this helping your pocket, buying second-hand also saves on resources and reduces the amount of used goods going to landfill.

Early entry tickets to their events cost €5 and they have markets coming up in the Rochestown Park Hotel in Cork on May 19 and the Brehon Hotel in Killarney on May 26.


If you are currently in the market for a new bill pay provider, or interested in switching from prepay to bills.

Three’s current offer could net you up to €150 to spend how you like.

Customers who buy a new smartphone on the 3 Classic Flex Max package, for €45 a month, will get €100 to spend on a 3Money card.

€150 is on offer to customers who choose the 3 Unlimited Flex Max package, for €60 per month.

The phones on offer range from the Huawei P20 Pro from free to the iPhone XS 128GB from €599 — so there is a phone to suit all budgets.

The 3Money is a secure prepaid Mastercard.

Customers can add money whenever they like and then shop online and in stores, pay with a tap or use ATMs.

Customers who first receive their card as part of this offer can continue to use it by topping up through any Three store or through Payzone outlets.

Go to for full details and all terms and conditions.

If there are any consumer issues that you’d like Gráinne to address or if you have problems that Gráinne could help with, she can be contacted at

More on this topic

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The Pádraig Hoare interview: 'LED-ing the way for 'greener' business'

These are some of the pioneering plastic-free stores in Ireland and the UK

Higgins: Gardeners the 'canaries in our coal mine' as they have suffered effects of climate change