Bummis: more than cloth diapers, a symbol of sustainability


Me holding a Swimmi with Bummis' founder Betsy Thomas

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of meeting  up with Betsy Thomas, the founder of Bummis cloth diapering at her manufacturing loft in Montreal. I walked in excited to see some cute paterned cloth diapers and talk about waste reduction but left realising I has just met a legend in sustainability.

This woman was a leader in sustainable business long before it was trendy. I immediately wanted to get this woman on the roster of top sustainable business conferences around the world because top business leaders could learn so much from her.

Bummis manufacturing loft in Montreal includes p


If you’re a proponent of buying local, you’ll appreciate that their products are produced here in Montreal, that means not in China! On top of that, they source as much as humanly possible from North America and when not possible, from the UK or Pakistan. In searching for suppliers, they demand compliance of strict environmental and social ethics.


Betsy told me about one supplier where she wanted them to get the SA800 certification in social accountability (fair treatment of workers etc.).  Although alternative suppliers with the certification were available, Bummis felt it was better to stick with their current supplier and get them to improve their practice. I really respected this concept considering our society is so commitment phobic. They’ll even end up making this company better off as well.


Bummis uses only certified organic cotton for their cloth diapers. Although it costs more, they felt it was better in the long run for everyone involved from grower, to sewer to baby which further helps reduce their carbon footprint.

Shirley Murdock and Betsy Thomas showing off their starter kit


  • Fun colours: All the patterns and colours makes them more fun than boring old white, disposable diapers
  • New & improved: these aren’t the diapers we were raised in with pins, nope, they use velcro now
  • Helps with potty training: Some experts say cloth diapers make it easier since the kids recognize when they’re wet
  • Safer: No chemicals soaking in a warm and wet environment against your child’s bottom
  • Municipal subsidies: Some cities, like in Quebec, offer subsidies against the cost of cloth diapers
  • Less waste: Diapers are the 3rd largest consumer source of garbage in our landfills and make up 50% of a household’s (with children in diapers) total waste.
  • Less expensive: Save approx. $2500 per child
  • Convenient: You can now get flushable liners (eliminates soaking) or you can sign up for a cloth diaper service
  • Softer & more comfortable


Too complicated and gross you think? There have been many advances in cloth diaper “technology” since we wore them. Velcro has replaced pins and water-proof fabrics have replaced plastic pants. And for the mom on-the-go, now you can find one-piece diapers with flushable (biodegradable) liners so there is no soaking or rinsing required. They are even accepted in daycares now too.

Cloth diapers are softer than disposables with the feel of natural fibres against your baby’s bottom. Plus, they get changed more often which is healthier for the baby. There also tends to be more air circulation and less temperature build up which contributes to less diaper rash.


Amongst my baby-making friends, I’m impressed how many are using cloth, it almost seems to be mainstream now. If you’re expecting or if you already have a baby and are curious about cloth, check out Bummis at a retailer near you. You can either buy a kit or one single unit.

If you like the concept but don’t want to clean them, check out a cloth diaper service. Bébé Auric uses Bummis diapers here in Montreal and Happy Nappy has services across Canada.


3 thoughts on “Bummis: more than cloth diapers, a symbol of sustainability

  1. After looking at pretty much every cloth diaper out there,I thought about getting the Bummis brand, but went with GroVia (the one size/hybrid) instead, mainly because it ended up being cheaper and it has the option of disposable inserts. They have very similar ethics/philosophies except GroVia is American.

    There is still some debate out there that cloth diapers aren’t as eco as one would think because of the amount of water and energy used in washing them…and also there is some question as to whether or not it is “sanitary”to wash them in the washer. It may not be the perfect solution, and it is a very personal opinion, but if you take into account the cost-savings, waste savings, comfort/convenience, the lack of chemicals, and all those other points you mentioned, to me it made sense to go with cloth, though I admit I will probably be using disposable inserts from time to time when convenience becomes an issue.

  2. Hey Monica – Glad to hear you got on the cloth bandwagon!

    I have also heard the water debate and asked this question when interviewing them. I believe she said that many studies had been done on the life-cycle analysis of both disposables and cloth and that in the end, cloth was still deemed as better for the environment. You also have to consider that disposables use a lot of water (and petrol) during production on top of being disposable but most people don’t realize that.

    Just so you know, Bummis also has a hybrid model, like the one you mentioned as well as flushable liners (which are organic cotton I believe too). They are available in stores in Vancouver. They might be cheaper here since they’re Canadian but you also have to take into account Bummis sources high-quality and organic materials when possible.

    Let me know how it goes!

  3. I looked everywhere including online for the cheapest deals and for the number of diapers I needed after doing all the math, it still ended up being more money. (I’m cheap!)I don’t think they have a hybrid one with detachable disposable and cotton inserts that snap in place like GroVia, and they don’t come in a one-size. THe detachable cotton inserts are cheaper than buying a whole diaper with attached inserts, and the one-size feature of the diaper cover means you don’t have to buy different sizes as the baby grows.And its all organic too. (http://gro-via.com/) I bought my package online from a canadian company.

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