As the 10th Real Nappy Week draws to a close Miranda Stamp of online nappy retailer Twinkle Twinkle reflects on the changing attitude to reusable nappies.
Up and down the country real nappy people have been busy celebrating the 10th Real Nappy Week. The first Real Nappy Week in 1997 certainly didn’t have the number of events or the following it has today. Back then if you mentioned washable nappies the majority of expectant mums presumed you meant terry squares and pins that you soaked and boil washed.
When I was expecting my daughter in 1999 I briefly read something in the paper about Real Nappy Week but there were no events locally to attend. I had already decided that as terry squares were good enough for me they were going to be good enough for my baby; I couldn’t see the point of the expense of disposable nappies, nor of the mountain of waste they created. However the terry square idea didn’t quite go as planned – I was given a gift set of all-in-one nappies but they were far too big for my scrawny daughter, so I set about finding a shaped nappy to fit her. Naturally this resulted in a lot of flexing of the plastic card online particularly across America where I found a wonderful choice of all sorts of delightful handmade nappy creations. Being the only cloth clad bottom at clinic soon led to requests for more information and ‘what is it, where did you get it and can you get me one’ and before I knew it Twinkle Twinkle had begun. I soon found that people were really interested in cloth nappies – they looked nice, and they were a lot easier to use than people imagined, but above all people were concerned about the amount of waste they were putting out for the bin man. Many were as enthusiastic as I, and wanted to tell the world that actually washing nappies wasn’t difficult - you just put the washing machine on and made a cup of tea, saving yourself the bother of rushing out to buy nappies or to keep emptying the bin!
As the local enthusiast, I got asked to talk at antenatal groups, and ran and attended regular coffee mornings – later these were christened ‘Nappuccinos’ by a friend’s husband. With the local councils we organised displays in libraries and civic offices, coffee mornings and prize draws. Whenever we’ve organized events we’ve met lots of keen and enthusiastic people all wanting to extol the virtues of cloth nappies even if this involves standing in the High Street in the pouring rain for a photo shoot. I’ve made many friends through nappies, and my three part time staff were once customers but our children are now all at school!
Each year Real Nappy Week has grown bigger and bigger, this year there were in excess of 600 events nationwide. Over the past six years I’ve assembled nappy mountains, held nappy hunts, Nappuccinos and picnics, nappy changing competitions and nappy fashion shows. As the landfill sites fill up with our rubbish our councils encourage us to reduce, reuse and recycle. Minimising waste is flavour of the month for the councils, and this year over 100 local councils now offer nappy incentives or cashback schemes. The one thing I’ve noticed this year more than any, is when you mention washable nappies to passers by to your stall they no longer look curious and say ‘Oh I thought you meant terry squares and pins’ but come over and say ‘Ah I’ve heard of these, aren’t they lovely, and what a good idea!’