'Nappy influencers' driving shift from disposables to cloth
In fact, when their triplets Emma, Sam and Alex were born, they had to.
"We didn't have the time for cloth initially," Justin said.
But without a bin collection at their Mountain River home in southern Tasmania, they had to cart their nappies to the tip themselves and were horrified.
"We were filling a whole wheelie bin full of disposable nappies, and they're going to just sit there for 500 years," she said.
Last month the couple made the switch to cloth nappies.
"We figure it'll end up about the same cost or cheaper than disposables," Justin said.
Tom Griffith sells eco-friendly baby gear at his Hobart shop and said cloth nappy sales were up 220 per cent on last year.
"They're just not the same sort of nappy we were put in as kids," he said.
"They're much more user-friendly, much easier to fit, much easier to wash. You don't have to do any sort of soaking or boiling to sterilise."
He said they cost between $25 and $40 each and it was recommended to buy 24.
"All up you'd never spend more than $700 or $800 even if you buy the most expensive ones out there," he said.
"Disposables run about $3,000, depending on the brand, per child."
Mr Griffith said social media was helping drive the big nappy change, with "nappy influencers" or "cloth bummers" attracting parents with their unique and sometimes expensive reusable designs.
"People love posting photos of their stash," he said.
"They're all pretty prints and colours and some of our brands do limited edition prints and we get people rushing in to buy the latest print.
"That might sound a bit like consumerism but it's creating a positive energy."
While they're not part of that phenomenon, the Wards hope the trend to cloth nappies continues.
"I think a lot of people still don't realise how easy they are. It's not like when you used to have the old terry towels sitting in a pail of disgusting water," she said.
Retail giants are also reporting a change in nappy preferences.
"We've seen customer interest in reusable nappy alternatives increase," said a spokesperson for Woolworths, which stocks cloth nappies at its Big W stores.
"We're always open to hearing from new suppliers and will consider adding new options to our supermarket range in future."
Victoria's city of Casey offered parents a cloth nappy rebate for 10 years. This year it had to close the program early due to unprecedented demand.
In Australia, the environmental group Boomerang Alliance calculated that 3.75 million disposable nappies get used every day of the week.
Meanwhile, many eyes are on Vanuatu, which has signalled plans to become the first nation on Earth to ban disposable nappies by December.
Composting solution on the way
One Tasmanian entrepreneur was convinced disposable nappies were the only way to go, but that they could be environmentally friendly.
Thirty years ago, Sue Allison-Rogers began looking at nappy alternatives for her baby daughter.
"The options for cloth were pretty minimal back then," she said.
"Simple PVC plastic pilchers, nappies and pins. As a busy working mum, disposables were the easy solution."
She developed a flushable pad initially and then an entirely compostable nappy, secured by a belt or tight pant made of washable fabric.
Eenee Designs sells to parents and childcare centres around the country, including Gaia's Nest, on Hobart's eastern shore.
At the moment her customers have to pay for their own composting, but Mrs Allison-Rogers said when councils started rolling out their Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) bins, parents and carers would simply be able to drop them in.
"You're taking the nappy and putting it with your food waste and green waste and having it converted into a nutrient-rich compost, which is just mind blowingly different to what we're doing now and yet so simple," she said.
A roll-out of FOGO bins is due to start in Hobart in the next two months and in Glenorchy early next year, while the city of Launceston already has FOGO bins and is considering trialling composting nappies.
The Australian Nappy Association, which advocates reusable nappies, said parents were embracing cloth.
"There are Australian cloth nappy brands turning over six and seven figures," said Fiona Ward, who was on the association's board.
"One of our members was supplying nappies to five child care centres two years ago — now it's 20.
"The industry is a vibrant, exciting space."