The right Diaper – Part 7 : Logistics

When you need something (almost) every day, it becomes important that there’s an uninterrupted supply chain (Sounds scientific, doesn’t it?), so taking care of your diaper stockpile as well as disposal issues is somewhat important. Let’s begin with the obvious: Where do you get your diapers and how do you get them as cheap as possible?

Procurement

Depending on where you live, this answer may vary, but the overall principles apply, regardless. Here in Germany the major bulk of all incontinence products is still distributed through specialized healthcare stores (Sanitätshaus) since you can get a recipe for them and thus a few bucks from your health insurance. Those subsidies are being cut down more and more, so it is becoming less and less relevant, though. One of the biggest downsides of this system is the cost for the customer, anyway, because in order to be profitable and pay their employees, anything the health insurance doesn’t pay, you have to pay. This means if you want a better diaper or a different product it’s always time to take out the purse.

For that reason I’m actually almost looking forward when the market goes completely free of those regulations and prices may drop through stronger competition (but then again, they may go up just as well) and you may be able to buy your diapers in the supermarket (at least the big ones). Some bigger grocery chains are already experimenting with this as do some drugstores, but it’s not that widely spread yet. Also count in the pharmacy stores again, which sort of were pushed out of that market when the health insurances cut their deals with the healthcare industry. In any case, at least it may become much more easy to get your padding. In many other countries around the globe it already works this way, anyway.

Another strong competitor is of course the various online shops. Since packages full of diapers are voluminous/ bulky and also have a certain weight, it’s apparently extremely convenient to just click a button and have them delivered with free shipping to your doorstep. Most online outlets also already offer much better pricing and more importantly a much wider selection ready for immediate delivery than any normal store could hold. You may also get “exclusive” or imported speciality products you wouldn’t find in a druggist store. As I already wrote, I had good experiences with Schanders, but there’s of course many more like Windelwelt24 or the mother of them all, Save Express. Some manufacturers also offer direct orders from their home pages.

One more way of getting your diapers for cheap can be auction sites like eBay or their classifieds counterparts like Craigslist. As tragic as it may be, but getting the leftovers from someone’s deceased grandparents can be cost-effective. There’s a few caveats, though. First, of course you have to take what you get. Not always are all products available on these second-hand markets and you may need to compromise on size or absorbency levels. You may also get stuff you don’t need, since when cleaning out granny’s house, people want to get rid of everything as quickly as possible. You may then again need to sell/ pass on what you have no use for.

By far the biggest issue is of course transportation cost. I often see good offers, but have to pass up. When it’s too far away and I can’t pick it up by coaxing my brother into a drive with his car, the shipping fees usually make it as expensive as buying directly from an online shop. Unlike commercial retailers with their discounted contracts with global logistics firms, private people pay a steep price for oversized and heavy cargo, so the math doesn’t add up. That is also true if the actual price is too high. Sometimes out of inexperience, sometimes out of “cutting losses” people ask too much and then again you might as well just order your goods from a commercial outlet.

Storage

Once you have taken your nappies home, you are going to need a place to put them in storage. Similar to the transportation issue mentioned in the previous paragraph, of course the bulkiness of the packs may become a problem. In my small flat I have stacked them against the back wall of my entry hall, but it would naturally be useful to have an extra room. To complicate matters, different products have a different size of the packs, sometimes only a few centimeters, so it took me a while to work out a system in which order to tower them up.

Aside from the pure physics of creating a stable arrangement, a further consideration here needs to be that you might want to have one of the packs of each products open and in reach, so you can take out your daily quota. Since I like to vary my routine and depending on the specific situation and mood use a different product, this of course means that I have several packs open. Once you have taken out a certain number of diapers, they lose their stability and you will need to rearrange your artfully built diaper brick wall. Once there’s only a handful of diapers left in a pack, I also usually take them out and put them in my “leftovers” boxes, so they don’t clutter up things and I can get rid of the plastic wrap. This is also useful for keeping count and unexpectedly empty packs early in the morning when you’re in a rush to catch your train. ;-)

Since I’m storing my stuff in my flat, I usually don’t have to make any special preparations with regards to temperature, humidity and additional protection from dust and dirt. If you are storing yours in your garage, attic or cellar, you may need to do something about it. Temperature is ultimately not that critical, but if you store your products for a long time in very hot places, the adhesive tapes can lose their stickiness and cover foils get brittle. The padding and other materials may also get gilded, which may make your diapers look slightly yucky.

The same is true if you store them in places that have too much air humidity or moisture. It also affects the functionality since the padding will already have tied up so and so much water, reducing any possible effective use on your part. At the same time when it’s too dry, the cellulose and paper components will become “dusty” and overall durability and comfort may be reduced. You have to have a certain balance.

It sounds worse than it actually is, though. I still have some diapers from 5 years ago and they are just fine. In the end, you will only need to store everything for a predictable frame and your daily quota will quickly make your stockpile shrink. After a while you will have a feel for how many packs you actually need every month and that will determine many of these factors.

Disposal

I’ve written a few things about how to dispose of your used crinklewear in a quickfire article already, but let me expand a bit on this.

Because a diaper is in the strictest sense “biologically contaminated material”, you will not want to keep it around forever and avoid touching the some parts too much. That’s why you should roll it up in a manner similar to the one illustrated in the animated picture, so – in theory – you only need to touch the clean outer sides. This technique works with the diaper around your body as well, both when taking it off while standing or lying in bed. With one hand you hold the back part in place and with the other you start releasing the tapes and folding up the front part. When you are halfway through it is small enough an you can easily pull away the other part and seal it up. The point of using this approach ultimately is that you want to avoid smearing contaminants between your legs. Taking off a diaper without any folding can be quite tricky, especially at larger sizes and when it’s fully soaked and loaded and thus heavy.

Diaper Folding

Click here for a static version of all steps in a grid layout.

Once you have managed to turn your nappy into a handy bundle, it needs to be stowed away. Unlike in the picture, I do not wrap each of them individually into a plastic bag at home. It’s more than okay to just dump a handful of them in a bigger bag inside an airtight dedicated trash bin. Mine is just a 5 Euros one from a hardware store and it does the job nicely. Of course your mileage may vary on this one. Clearly when you are having a heavy fecal incontinence and it’s hot outside it’s a different matter than just having peed into your diaper during winter. Soaked diapers also can be very, very heavy, so try to determine how many you can handle before either the stench gets unbearable or taking the package to the trash container requires a fork lift. ;-)

As I wrote in that other article, your used diapers belong in the normal household garbage, not elsewhere. That is unless you are wearing some super-eco-friendly variety or some special collection system in your area takes care of them getting schredded and turned into something useful.

On the Road

Once you’re involved in that diaper business, it also penetrates and extends into your daily routine when you are out and about. You have to think about how long you are away from home and prepare accordingly. Personally I don’t carry around an extra “diaper pouch”. Instead I always have one diaper and a plastic trash bag in every of my backpacks and suitcases. They’re always there and I never take them out just in case I may be in a rush and just forget to grab an extra diaper. Additionally I will then pack up one or two more diapers as needed. Usually I try to minimize or even completely avoid a diaper change by putting on an extra thick one when I leave early in the morning, but when I don’t make it home by lunch time, I can’t avoid freshening up.

The biggest issue you will be facing is actually finding a place to dump your used package. Unfortunately this is a very aggravating topic, since public places don’t seem to be ready to deal with these problems. Most diaper disposal units as you can find them e.g. on a train are too small and only aimed at dealing with baby sized products. Likewise on public toilets you can often find plenty of baskets for the paper towels, but not a single “normal” trash bin and when you do, its opening is often so small, you have trouble squeezing you package in. For those reasons I quite literally have already carried around a bundle in my backpack and trashed it back at home. When you have the opportunity, you can also dump your stuff into the bags of cleaning personnel or some nice persons private household trash can, but always ask. While it’s not your fault and everyone should tolerate it, people take offense. That’s also the reason why I would not put my package in an open trash bin in a park – someone might get creative and use language or you’ll be news in next day’s local newspaper.

With those concluding thoughts this little series has come to an end. I hope you enjoyed my ramblings and if you have questions, just fire away. Of course every once in while I will amend these articles with new and revised info as it comes in and my own experiences change my views on some things plus I will continue all my diaper testing and whatever I do so you can ultimately find the right padding for you.

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