Wimborne War on Waste are organising a plastic-free street party on Saturday 22nd September and Tops will definitely be there!
Mainstream public awareness of the damage we are inflicting with excessive use of plastics is on the rise. Who hasn’t heard of David Attenborough’s programme Blue Planet? Plastic waste is ending up in our oceans and posing extreme threat to the marine life. Waste can entangle and endanger animals. It can be mistaken for food and block digestive tracks so that animals starve. A third of the fish we eat is contaminated with plastic, which then contaminates us. There is a staggering amount of non-biodegradable waste making its way to landfill sites, where it will sit for hundreds of years without breaking down, or be incinerated and release polluting gases into our already struggling atmosphere. In the scheme of things, only a tiny portion of the plastics we use are actually recycled.
Surfers Against Sewerage is a marine conservation charity that works with communities and businesses to tackle the rising problem of single use plastics. In their mission to herald in an environmentally-aware age, SAS developed the Plastic Free Community movement. A simple step-by-step framework for individuals and communities to follow to minimise (or hopefully eliminate!) the use of harmful, polluting plastic. You can find more about this initiative here.
Wimborne is one of the communities aiming to achieve Plastic Free Community status. Their street party has two motives: first and foremost, a celebration of all the hard work War on Waste have put in to leading Wimborne towards their eco-friendly goal. But of course, the opportunity to spread awareness will not be missed! The first (and biggest) step is education.
With constant attention in the media, we are all aware of the impact of plastic straws and one-use bottles. Have you ever considered the phenomenal impact of nappies? Disposable nappies have become the norm for today’s busy families due to their convenience and widespread availability. However, these nappies are posing a huge environmental threat: a staggering 3 billion are thrown into the bin every day across the UK (that’s 8 million a day!). This accounts for 4% of all household landfill waste. In Dorset alone (not including Poole and Bournemouth), 7 million nappies are sent to landfill each year, at a cost the taxpayers of £600,000.
On top of the cost, and the fact that landfill space is quickly running out, there are contamination concerns. Human waste that would normally be treated and sanitised within the sewerage system instead sits around wrapped in layers of plastic. Consider what happens when it eventually breaks down, realising further harmful toxins into the environment. We have a separate sewerage system for a reason!
This is a rather modern problem. Just a few generations ago, disposable nappies were unheard of. Parents used cloth nappies on their young children, which were laundered and reused. With the rising focus on convenience, cloth nappies have fallen out of favour in contemporary society. Disposables are mass produced and marketed by multinational corporations, and cloth bums are now few and far between. However, just as the disposable nappy market has continuously adapted and improved, so too have reusables. Long gone are the days of a terry cloth secured with safety pins! Now there are countless options of appealing, well-designed re-usable nappy systems. The main problem nowadays is lack of information. Families deciding to pursue the environmentally-friendly option of reusable nappies are often left in the dark. There are several different systems that can be used, different methods for laundering, different options for materials and layering techniques and fastenings- it can be a confusing and conflicting road to travel. But it doesn’t have to be!
Really, they’re just as simple as disposables. When finding the right disposable nappy for your child, you probably had to test different styles (pull up or velcro tab?) and sizes (a 2? 2+?). You probably had to change brands more than a few times to find the ones that fit your child best, and worked well for you. But once you knew what to use… plain sailing. Re-usable nappies are just the same. So there might be different systems to trial, or different materials to test out, but once you’ve made your choice, you’re off and running (and so is your little one!)
As more people become aware of the benefits of using cloth, the ease of finding information is improving. There are ‘cloth nappy libraries’ dotted around, support groups in communities and a flourishing online support community. Dorset Waste Partnership run a ‘real nappy incentive’ scheme which offers all Dorset parents the opportunity to save £30 on the cost of reusable nappies. There’s also plenty of local mums willing to help- as you’ll see at the Waste on War street party.
Together, we can turn the tide around.
Follow the WOW Nappy campaign by following their Facebook page here.