Tops Day Nurseries is trying to be as sustainable as possible so that the children benefit from this in the future.
One of the ways that we are currently doing the most damage to the environment is through using “disposable” one-use plastic nappies and wipes. Each child at nursery uses around 1000 nappies per year (full-time equivalent) which is costly for parents, and very costly in terms of waste – it actually costs three times as much to dispose of a “disposable” nappy as it costs to buy! Nappies at the nursery go to incineration as “offensive waste” which costs our pilot nurseries up to £95 per week, and nappies that go home into the general waste (landfill or incineration) costs between 4% and 9% of every family’s council tax, whether they have children in nappies or not. So there are cost reasons as well as environmental reasons to try to reduce our nappy waste.
As there are implications in terms of laundry, nappy selection, costs, and staff training, we are running a pilot scheme at Tops Southsea, and are asking parents to stop sending any nappies or wipes to nursery with their child, and let us deal with it all for you, for no charge. We hope that parents will also raise questions and provide feedback on how the pilot goes, so that we can roll this out across all 30 Tops Day Nurseries in the spring with the benefit of working on any issues that parents and nursery colleagues raise.
At the end of the day, children will still be in a washable nappy so we ask for parents to bring the nappy back into nursery the next time they come, in a wet bag (which parents have already been supplied with) so we can launder it. There are alternatives such as sending children home in their own nappy as usual – but we would prefer this to be a washable nappy and not a one-use nappy if at all possible.
Ideally, we would like parents to bring their child into nursery in a washable nappy too, which we will wash if it is named, and use on the child at the end of a day after laundering, or return it in a wet bag.
Washable nappies are for sale in most Lidls, Aldis, Waitrose, and many zero waste shops, and online too of course where they can also be bought second-hand.
There are many styles, shapes, and materials to choose from, please click here for more information. There is also information on our charity website, GECCO, www.GECCO.org.uk and on www.topsdaynurseries.co.uk Parents do not have to buy any if they don’t want to, as parents have the option to borrow ours overnight, parents may also be able to find a local nappy library. We estimate that the cost of buying, washing, and drying nappies is significantly cheaper than using disposables over time, perhaps £400 per year per first child (much greater savings subsequently), but it will be interesting to prove this, or not, as part of the pilot.
Our process of using washable nappies in the nurseries has been carefully developed, together with Health & Safety and Environmental Health advice, to ensure that there is no risk of cross-contamination. We use standard washing machines and a Scandanavian drying cupboard as tumble driers use a lot of energy and damage many styles of washable nappies.
We expect the pilots to start within the next 6 weeks, depending on when the laundry facilities are upgraded, and will let you know exactly when as soon as we have put everything in place. But meanwhile, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to raise them, do bear in mind that the nursery teams are being trained simultaneously so some may need to check on the answers rather than responding immediately – please bear with us!