With a new cannabis renaissance dawning, more and more people are making moves to put the plant front and center as a way to build a more sustainable and just future. Meanwhile, an estimated 27.4 billion disposable diapers end up in landfills across America annually (according to the folks at RealDiaper.org). Clearly, it was only a matter of time before the worlds of pot and poop collided.
Enter Billie Wonder, a Dutch retailer providing eco-friendly and adorable washable diapers and training pants to the masses made from green materials such as organic cotton, bamboo and yes, hemp. The company features both an online shop and brick and mortar showroom in Amsterdam, and is aiming to spread awareness of the benefits of reusable diapers while simultaneously working towards creating the world’s first nappy made completely from cannabis.
“I think hemp is the plant of the future in many, many ways, but also when it comes to diapers,” explains Amsterdam native Steef Fleur, co-founder of Billie Wonder, which means “little bottom miracle” in Dutch.
Fleur, an urban developer-turned-photographer-turned-entrepreneur, may have grown up in a country known for its tolerant stance on so-called “soft drugs” such as marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, but it took spending time away from coffeeshop culture to truly understand cannabis and the multitude of powers it may possess.
A Seed Is Planted
Despite growing up in Amsterdam, Fleur had no idea what a pot plant looked like up close until visiting a friend who had moved to California’s Emerald Triangle. A two month stint in the Humboldt hills turned into a successful photography career and a lifelong passion for the plant.
“It opened my eyes very much to the possibilities of the plant, because here [in the Netherlands] although everybody thinks we’re super liberal, we’re super narrow-minded when it comes to cannabis,” Fleur said.
It was also during a trip to California when Fleur first discovered washable diapers, something that was nearly unheard of at the time in her native country. After spending time studying informal settlements in Brazil during her university career, Fleur understood the dire need to decrease landfill waste. She committed immediately to embracing reusable diapers should she ever be blessed to become a mom.
“Not very long after, I got pregnant,” she laughed.
Two Babies and a Business
Fleur started Billie Wonder alongside her friend and officemate Manon Klosterman, a Brazillian-born accountant who was due to have her own bundle of joy only months apart from Fleur. The two had begun researching washable diapers only to come up short.
“What we were missing is a place where you can actually go to and ask your questions about reusable diapers,” Fleur said. “I also realized that the imagery that exists around the product right now is a little old-fashioned, and I believe an old-fashioned product actually gets confirmed by the imagery that exists.”
Utilizing sleek and modern photography mixed with an inviting user experience, the Billie Wonder website was designed with the busy mom in mind. Deciding which washable diaper makers to partner with, however, meant getting down and dirty with any potential products.
“That was the good thing about starting it straight away,” Fleur says. “We would just buy sh*tloads of new brands and put them on our children!”
From the Bottom to the Top
With her photography background, Fleur set out to change the perception of reusable diapers in Europe and beyond. Her time documenting the cannabis culture in Humboldt however, is what has Billie Wonder’s sights set even higher. Knowing hemp is easier on the environment to grow than cotton — while also being an overall more absorbent material — the company has applied for and received subsidies from the Dutch government to develop a diaper made from 100% hemp.
“The structure of hemp is still a little bit too rough to use by itself in diaper material. The fashion industry is having troubles with this as well,” she laments, adding the initial government partnership inquiry will last until the spring of 2020.
Despite the daunting research ahead of them, the duo behind Bille Wonder are encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response to their business. In addition, Fleur is expecting baby number two this winter, marking a new chapter in the company’s history.
“We curated [our collection] on our kids. They’re both potty-trained now, but we have a new one coming that we can test the hemp on next year!”
TELL US, are you a parent who has tried reusable diapers?
Originally published in Issue 40 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE