London has a new Mayor, Sadiq Khan and a new Chair of London Councils, Claire Kober, Leader of Haringey Council. There is also an increasing need for partnership working between councils to reduce costs. This is a good time to step up and make Real Nappies for London a truly pan-London information scheme. Building on our success and experience since 2007 we want to make it a low-cost, high impact service, offering cost savings to all 32 boroughs and the Corporation of London.
Our mission at Real Nappies for London is to reduce London’s nappy waste. One way to do this is to encourage more residents to consider/try reusable nappies. This reduces the cost of collection and disposal of nappy waste. The average baby generates approximately 763 kgs – almost a tonne – from birth to potty, costing an average £150 per tonne. The total annual cost of London’s nappy waste is approximately £20 million. More and more parents are recycling and reducing their residual waste. They don’t want to see it suddenly grow when they have a baby due to disposable nappy waste. We are seeing increasing interest in cloth nappies.
But reusable nappies are not practical for everyone. Another very good way to reduce nappy waste is by giving toddlers the opportunity to potty train at the earliest possible opportunity. It also reduces the cost of having a baby in nappies 24/7 until the child is three and a half or four. A primary school in a deprived area of Stoke reported to Channel 4 News (Dec, 2015) that a third of children presented for reception wearing nappies. The Foundation Years guidance to parents, ‘What to expect, when? A Parents’ Guide’ endorsed by the Department of Education, says that a child typically indicate the need for a change of nappy/the potty/toilet from 16 – 26 months. It seems parents need better information on when and how to get their children out of nappies.
The question is how can we give all London parents access to information about these 2 alternatives to disposable nappies that they can look up and use if they want to. All expectant mothers in London could easily be given information about www.realnappiesforlondon.org.uk with the prescription exemption card that is sent to virtually all expectant mothers within weeks of registering pregnancy with their GP. Devolution of power from Whitehall to local authorities should finally make this cost effective option possible.
Another way to normalise the alternative to children spending the first 4 years of their lives in single-use nappies is to put posters on the side of refuse trucks. Currently most have recycling messages. But perhaps it’s time use this space to tackle waste prevention and promote the circular economy?
Let’s make it happen. At Real Nappies for London, we have the expertise, we have the experience, we can make it happen.
For more information on potty training please see our post: New Thoughts on Potty Training, endorsed by June Rogers, the most experienced paediatric continence advisor in the UK.