Reusable Nappy Campaign

Promoting change in the Early Years

Why Reusable Nappies?

It is now widely recognised that there needs to be a behavioural change away from plastic, “disposable” single-use nappies, towards reusable cloth nappies.

Why? 

Single-use nappies are made using plastics, elastics, adhesives, paper pulp, and chemicals. They are resource expensive, using up oil, and lots and lots of trees. Nappies do not readily degrade and could leach toxins into the ground. It’s estimated that it could take hundreds of years (some estimate more than 500 years) before nappies begin to break down. It also takes more water to make one single-use nappy than it does to wash one for a child’s lifetime. Lots of poo is left in the environment instead of going through our sewage system.

Disposable nappies are great for emergencies and travelling, but should not be used on a daily basis. It costs 3x as much to get a disposable nappy to landfill or incineration than it does to buy it! We have got into a bad habit, without thinking things through. We need to change this if we care about our children’s future world.

The numbers are mind-bloggling! Currently in the UK about 8 million disposable nappies are thrown away each day! Every child will go through up to 6,500 nappy changes before he or she is potty trained and there were 680,000 babies born in England and Wales in 2018; those children alone have the potential to use more than 1.5 billion (billion!) disposable nappies in their first year.

We can stop this …

By doing this!

In a nursery

In a childcare setting the cost of disposing of single-use nappies by incineration is around three times the current cost of buying them; for nurseries, the cost of nappy waste equates to around £1,000 per nursery per year, with a fortnightly yellow bin collection. Yellow bins go to incineration plants, and may be used for energy depending on your waste company. Incineration does produce toxic fumes, but these are filtered out by commercial incinerating companies in the UK.

If your nursery was to provide an all-inclusive service to parents, you will save hundreds of pounds per child by using reuseable nappies instead of disposables, and that includes the cost of laundry. You will need to invest in the nappies initially unless parents are happy to provider their own (they might prefer this rather than sharing nappies, and in which case they will do their own laundry too, big plus, you just need wet bags to return them in), the return will come over around 2 years – unless you charge parents for the service on top of your daily charge, which you could do if you don’t already.

You will also need to consider buying a drying cabinet, as we have found that relying on air drying/the weather is too slow especially if you have dozens of nappies to dry every day and nappies are wrecked in tumble driers.  A washing machine with a fast spin at the end is useful as it gets rid of a lot of water, therefore saving drying time. Commercial washing machines tend to be more energy efficient, but domestic ones are fine as the speed issue is around drying not washing.  If you have a local laundry service you can use then that is an option, rather than paying staff extra time for loading and unloading washing machines and folding nappies. Ideally you need drying line space outside as this saves energy and the sunshine naturally bleaches the nappies.

If your nappy waste goes into the general waste instead of into an incineration bin (which is not illegal, just not responsible) then the nappies are likely to end up in landfill, unless you work with the one supplier in the UK who is going to recycle nappies in a factory in Wales, and there is also one factory trialling this in Italy.  Entrepreneurs, waste companies and local authorities continue to work on what to do with one-use nappy waste, as this continues to cost between 3% and 9% of the total spend on waste in local authority areas, so reducing this charge would be a massive benefit to everyone, not just parents and nursery providers.

Download our Infographic

Download our Infographic

What’s happening?

A campaign targeting the UK’s Early Childhood Sector

The UK currently boasts some 17,500 day nurseries and 380 grant maintained nursery schools, employing about 350,000 people, not to mention the nation’s childminders and nannies. It’s a huge sector. In the right cultural climate, in their unique position as childcare experts, nursery owners and managers, nursery room managers, educators and practitioners, childminders and nannies have real potential to influence the parents that know and trust them, so lets help them make better choices if they can.

GECCO is taking advantage of it’s close relationship with the Tops Day Nursery chain of 30 childcare settings, to fund a pilot reusable nappies project, encouraging behavioural change amongst their own staff (approx. 750+) and the parents of the 3,000 children+ that attend. The updates from the project can be found on our Reusable Nappies: The Tops Project page.

Many day nurseries currently refuse children to attend in reusable nappies because it is perceived as being risky and problematic. This need not be the case, as the nappies can be returned home in wet bags for the parents to wash, no mess, no soaking at nursery, and a saving on the waste bill for everyone too.

Some parents might like to use local Nappy Libraries to borrow nappies to try out; GECCO have loaned a stock of resuable nappies to Tops that they can, in turn, loan to parents. The unique aspect of the GECCO campaign is reaching parents through the day nurseries that their children attend, with colleagues in those nurseries being fully trained in the use of cloth nappies within the setting, and then supporting parents to make the change.  We don’t expect parents to necessarily make a 100% change to reusable nappies, as we know the convenience of not having to wash nappies takes some beating, but it is financially, environmentally and socially a better decision to use reusable cloth nappies, not one-use plastic ones. We have to admit that there are going to be times when only one-use nappies will do, perhaps for visiting or travelling for example, or if your washing machine breaks down or you just don’t want nappies hanging up in your home for a bit, and that’s OK, every single “disposable nappy” change replaced by washing a nappy is something to celebrate.

What’s happening?

A campaign targeting the UK’s Early Childhood Sector

The UK currently boasts some 17,500 day nurseries and 380 grant maintained nursery schools, employing about 350,000 people, not to mention the nation’s childminders and nannies. It’s a huge sector. In the right cultural climate, in their unique position as childcare experts, nursery owners and managers, nursery room managers, educators and practitioners, childminders and nannies have real potential to influence the parents that know and trust them, so lets help them make better choices if they can.

GECCO is taking advantage of it’s close relationship with the Tops Day Nursery chain of 30 childcare settings, to fund a pilot reusable nappies project, encouraging behavioural change amongst their own staff (approx. 750+) and the parents of the 3,000 children+ that attend. The updates from the project can be found on our Reusable Nappies: The Tops Project page.

Many day nurseries currently refuse children to attend in reusable nappies because it is perceived as being risky and problematic. This need not be the case, as the nappies can be returned home in wet bags for the parents to wash, no mess, no soaking at nursery, and a saving on the waste bill for everyone too.

Some parents might like to use local Nappy Libraries to borrow nappies to try out; GECCO have loaned a stock of resuable nappies to Tops that they can, in turn, loan to parents. The unique aspect of the GECCO campaign is reaching parents through the day nurseries that their children attend, with colleagues in those nurseries being fully trained in the use of cloth nappies within the setting, and then supporting parents to make the change.  We don’t expect parents to necessarily make a 100% change to reusable nappies, as we know the convenience of not having to wash nappies takes some beating, but it is financially, environmentally and socially a better decision to use reusable cloth nappies, not one-use plastic ones. We have to admit that there are going to be times when only one-use nappies will do, perhaps for visiting or travelling for example, or if your washing machine breaks down or you just don’t want nappies hanging up in your home for a bit, and that’s OK, every single “disposable nappy” change replaced by washing a nappy is something to celebrate.

Cheryl Hadland introduces GECCO, Tops Day Nurseries and the Reusable Nappy Campaign.

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