Splat Mats – A True Labour of Love
Yesterday I developed an eloquent squat-walk-waddle with scissors in one hand and a craft knife in the other. What was I doing? I was cutting Splat Mats for the next ‘batch’ of up-cycled goodness for Outie. I know it is recommended that pregnant women are able to squat with flat feet, but today I am a little sore from all of the bending and heavy lifting (don’t tell anyone) and I feel like maybe this Splat Mat thing could definitely be something more than a labour of love…
So while I rest up a little today, I think it’s nice to recognise all the reasons why I love Splat Mats.
THE NAME THING
Rhymes are fun and kid-friendly. These are often called Splash Mats by mistake – but whatever you call them: mess mats, vinyl rugs, activity mats… they needed a name that could be as fun and friendly as the product and the Outie brand. So Splat Mats it is.
THE GREEN THING
Splat Mats are super-durable and are my contribution to green parenting. Each one used to be a part of a big billboard that would otherwise end up in a landfill. The billboards are designed to be in the sun and wind and rain for weeks so they are the perfect solution to parents’ need for something durable that can put up with a whole lot of kid (and pet) messes.
Each Splat Mat is carefully cut then set aside for cleaning (they need quite a bit before they are shop-ready!). The smaller pieces are cut into Car-Seat-Splat Mats, the rest of the scraps are made into re-usable envelopes for a waterproof postage solution for my products and the super-small pieces are even sent to my Mum who makes outdoor bunting out of all of the bright little scraps.
Trying to have minimal impact as a parent is really important to me. Having minimal impact as a small business providing parenting products is pretty special too.
I make them from recycled advertising because I don’t want to contribute to an already waste-filled world with more waste. Although they are labour intensive for me to make, I feel that making them out of something that would otherwise end up in landfills is important. I like seeing an 18m2/10kg plastic canvas be reduced into a small rubbish bag of throw-away scraps weighing less than 1kg.
THE UTILITY THING
“Each one is made from up-cycled billboard vinyl that was once used as advertising. Since this stuff was made to withstand long periods of outdoor weather, it works very well as a splat-saver for around the home. I found that messes wiped off easily, and the edging and double stitching on these babies appears to be just about indestructible. I also dig the fact that you get a little bit of advertising ephemera in each one. Oh, and they’re reversible too!
The verdict… Eco-friendly innovation with practical everyday application.” – Kid Independent Australia
So many products are not designed to last. I understand that this is deliberate to ensure that customers keep returning to re-buy the same product when it wears out. But Splat Mats are not a re-buy type of product because they will withstand a lot of ill treatment before they even begin to show signs of wear. I feel like this is a really good thing even if it may not be the best business model…
What I love best about them is their versatility as well as their durability.
Each Splat Mat is made from two pieces of industrial billboard vinyl that is cut to shape, bound and stitched around the edges with industrial canvas binding. My first one was made with my new baby and my new carpet in mind… but they are far more useful than just for saving carpet…
They are tried and true at our place and I like to think that we don’t go easy on them. (Two large mastiffs, a bulldog, a man, a toddler, a painty crafty lady with another baby on the way have put these mats to the test!)
We have used them for:
- on the bed as a portable giant-changing mat
- on the floor for nappy-free-time
- under the high chair for Baby Led Weaning
- under the dogs’ bed to catch all of the dog hair
- in the car boot to stop my car’s carpet getting all hairy from my dogs
- under the carseat to catch all of the food mess from my toddler eating/spilling (and being sick) in the backseat
- in my studio to catch loose threads under my sewing area
- in the car as a portable beach/picnic mat
- I really don’t believe that all of the uses for them have been discovered yet…
THE DESIGN THING
I made these Splat Mats because I know how useful they are but I also love looking at a large image and thinking ‘Oooh – that bit is cool!’ and trying to lay out my templates to catch the greatest colours and textures.
(I studied Fine Arts at Elam School of Fine Arts and have a Masters in Art History… I can’t seem to shake that interest in aesthetics…)
THE PARENTING THING
As our family grows and changes, I imagine the Splat Mats will adapt alongside us – already mister Outie is talking of a dark coloured shell-shaped one to put into the paddling pool to make it heat up faster in the sun…
So while I look at the pile of vinyl awaiting ‘processing’ (and gumption!), it’s nice to remember all the reasons I do this and the good reasons why Outie Splat Mats have become such a big part of our lives.
THE REAL THING
If you want to let Splat Mats into your life too, you can check them out here: http://outie.co.nz/products/outie-baby-goods/outie-splat-mats-mess-mats