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It’s Time For A Change

Today, we’re launching Time For A Change. We want 60% of babies to be wearing cloth nappies by 2020.


-Pretty much everyone now agrees that single-use plastic bags are a bad idea. Yet single-use plastic nappies are so much worse. Plastic bags are estimated to degrade in around 100 years. Before England introduced a 5p charge on single-use plastic bags, the number handed out by the big supermarkets was the equivalent of 41,000 tonnes of plastic. Each year, 400,000 tonnes of single-use nappies are thrown away; and they take over 500 years to degrade.

-Because single-use nappies are costing us a fortune. They cost far more than reusable nappies. If you have two children, reusables save you hundreds of pounds - even if you use the cheapest single-use brands. At Baba+Boo we like simple living, and we love helping families spend their money on experiences, not ‘stuff’.

-We don’t think people realise that single-use nappies are made from plastic and wood pulp; that seven million trees are cut down a year to make disposable nappies; or that it takes a cup of crude oil to make the plastic for just one single-use nappy. Single-use nappies aren’t just a waste issue - they’re a manufacturing issue too.

-We don’t think people are making decisions based on the facts. Myths abound - that the extra water to wash is expensive and bad for the environment; that reusables are extra work; that they’re hard to use; that they smell. The water argument was discredited years ago, and cloth parents will shout from the rooftops that they’re less hassle, less smelly and less leaky than their single-use equivalents.

Sixty per cent?

Currently, just 10% of babies wear cloth nappies. We want that to change to 60% in the next three years. Unrealistic? Too ambitious? We don’t think so. After the 5p plastic bag tax was introduced, the number of plastic bags handed out dropped by 80% in six months.

Here’s how we will do it

We don’t want to force people. We will never judge anyone who chooses to use single-use nappies. But we do want to see some small changes that will make a big difference.

1) Councils. As an absolute minimum, we are calling on councils to provide information about reusables as a way of reducing waste. If we halve the number of disposables that are used each year, councils will save millions of pounds. We want all councils to consider incentives to help families with start-up costs.
We will work with councils to make sure they have access to up-to-date facts and figures, and know where residents can go locally for information and trial kits.

2) Government. Single-use nappies are a bigger problem than single-use straws, or coffee cups, or plastic bags bags. We want to see the same political commitment to reducing plastic nappies as we did for plastic bags.
We continually hear politicians talking about saving money for families. We want them to back this up. We want the government to provide more information on the environmental and cost benefits of reusable nappies. We want them to look at creative ways of helping lower income families with the cost of getting started, like vouchers, cashback schemes and low interest loans that can be paid back via child benefit.

3) Midwives and antenatal class providers. We understand that environmental concerns aren’t top of the agenda for super-busy midwives. But we want a new normal - where all midwives and antenatal care providers have access to the facts they need to support families who want to cut costs. All antenatal classes discuss breast feeding - we think they should also include an informed discussion of how to choose which nappies are right for you. Any session that includes ‘how to put a nappy on’ should include reusables.

4) Health visitors and Sure Start. We think all health visitors and Sure Start workers should have easy access to a full range of resources on single-use versus reusable. We want them to be able to support all families, especially those who are struggling financially, to work out how much they will save if they use cloth nappies.

5) Cloth parents, nappy libraries and change makers. You are the advocates, the influencers, the early adopters. We need you to change the language of nappies. We need you to show off your babies’ gorgeous cloth-clad bums. We will give you all the facts you need for when you get asked about hassle, or cost, or environmental unfriendliness. We’ll help you influence your friends, your council, your MP, and your nursery.

6) Nurseries. We want all nurseries to include their policy on cloth nappies in their welcome pack and on their website. We want all nurseries to make it clear to parents that reusables are welcome. We’ll give you resources on how to put on a cloth nappy, and advice on the practicalities like peg storage and bags versus buckets, as well as what you need if you want to cut your waste collection costs by becoming a reusable nursery.

What next?

It doesn’t stop when 60% of babies wear reusable nappies. But when the majority of babies have bums clothed in cloth, then we think we will have reached a tipping point. Once we reach 60%, then we’ll have changed attitudes, and there will be the social and political will to keep on changing. That’s when reusables will be the new normal.

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