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Wednesday, February 8, 2023
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Changemakers

Steef Fleur’s Billie Wonder stylish washable diapers help reduce waste and environmental impact while aiding in potty training.

As concerns about climate change heighten, we all are looking for ways to shrink our carbon footprint, reduce waste, reuse products, and recycle when we can. There are many innovative individuals around the world who are coming up with solutions to these concerns. One such individual, Steef Fleur of Amsterdam, has brought environmental change to motherhood.

Her company, Billie Wonder, produces washable diapers (and all the accessories you could need) so parents, both new and experienced, can make a change, one diaper at a time.

Fleur, a former documentary photographer who studied urban development, discovered washable diapers while on assignment in Northern California in 2015. While working amongst the hemp growers of the region, she was amazed at the use and ease of reusable diapers, despite the fact that disposable alternatives were available. 

“I just looked at it, and I thought, this looks so much better than a disposable one,” says Fleur when recalling that first time she saw the reusable diapers. This experience stuck with her and, after the birth of her son in 2017,, she began the Billie Wonder webshop, selling existing brands’ cloth diapers and promoting washables as a new norm. 

When Fleur and her husband first told friends and others about these non-disposable diapers, they were often met with reactions of disgust and disbelief. Fleur says when she asked people to picture a washable diaper, the responses included, “One of those cloths with a safety pin.” Inspired to research and dive deeper, Fleur found this outdated image was, in fact, accurate in the current market at that time. 

But “new normal” was about to have a whole new meaning for everyone. The 2020 pandemic changed life everywhere. Fleur found all of her upcoming photoshoots canceled, but this shift meant she had the time to breathe new life into Billie Wonder and launch a reimagined brand with its own product line. 

Fleur says, “I hired a business coach, and I realized with him along the way I believe in this, and I really think there is a niche missing in the market which is the high-end, more fashionable, en vogue segment, ‘cause that’s what I was missing when I was using them for my children.”

Since the beginning of 2021, Fleur has been dedicated to the fitting, design, and development of Billie Wonder’s products, officially launching in February of 2022. 

Washable Diapers
Courtesy of Billie Wonder

In order to handle the messy nature of diapers, Billie Wonder’s products contain both water-resistant and absorbent fabrics. The water-resistant fabric is known as PUL, a common washable diaper material that is easy to clean, breathable, and durable. The absorbent fabric contains 55% hemp and 45% Oeko-Tex  –  an organic, unbleached, and undyed cotton. They are made in China, the world’s largest hemp producer. 

Looking to reduce the company’s footprint and provide the highest quality product at a reasonable price that parents can afford, Fleur is involved in every step of her supply chain process. Billie Wonder’s manufacturing partner in China, which is third-party tested for ethics and product quality, has made these goals possible.  

Fleur prefers hemp because it is more absorbent than cotton, requires less water and fewer pesticides, and actually nourishes the soil in which it grows.

Environmentally, switching to washables can have a big impact. A single child that uses disposables produces nearly 50lbs of diaper waste every month. That is 600lbs every year. Multiply that times the millions of children in the United States alone, not including the many millions more around the world. 

Washable Diapers
Courtesy of Billie Wonder, Madeleine Bolle Photography

By comparison, a child in washable, reusable diapers produces less than 5lbs of waste per month. Of course, no one is perfect. At some points, you’ll find yourself relying on disposables for specific situations; for Fleur, this includes the night before a vacation so she doesn’t have to come home to a dirty diaper in the laundry bin. Regardless, regularly diminishing your child’s diaper waste can have a huge impact on the environment by decreasing input into landfills and preventing human waste from seeping into the surrounding environment. 

For those who fear non-stop washing and messy situations, Fleur challenges these misconceptions about reusable diapers by educating customers on Billie Wonder’s website. It is a one-stop shop for buying and learning more about the washable diaper workflow, including video and written tutorials.

The system is a simple one. Each diaper contains an insert, one designed for daytime or one for night, and additional liners that make disposing of solids as easy as possible. After the diaper has been used, and the liners plus any solids have been removed, place the diaper in the bin, featuring a laundry net that simply goes into the washing machine. You never have to touch anything yucky. 

Fleur advises an easy start with washable diapers, especially for new parents or after the birth of another child. While the process becomes automatic with time, the first few days of using washables may take some getting used to, so it’s wise to add it to your routine after things have settled down. Plus, don’t add any unnecessary pressure when starting washable diapers such as going around town. Better to stay home and start slow. 

On top of economic savings and environmental friendliness, another benefit of reusables is a faster path to potty training, so parents are using diapers for less time. “I changed fewer diapers for two kids than the average parent here in the Netherlands changed diapers for one,” Fleur says. Plus, the diapers are so durable they can be used for multiple children. 

Fleur finds that the diaper industry as a whole is shifting. She finds that more people are aware of reusable diapers, have even researched the topic themselves, and are more conscious of the decisions they make for themselves and their families. She says, “I think the next generation is more willing to take the extra step to do better.” 

There is still a long way to go, but the work is being done. If you’re interested in incorporating washable diapers into your tiny changemaker’s routine, Billie Wonder ships internationally.  

To learn more about Billie Wonder, visit their website at www.billiewonder.com.

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