Promoting Eco-Friendly Practices in Baby Swimming Schools with Reusable Swim Nappies

As we navigate the modern world with a growing awareness of our environmental footprint, it's key to reflect on the choices we all make in our day to day lives, including the nappies we use for our little ones. This Reusable Nappy Week, we want to join the ‘real nappy’ movement and shed some light on some of the environmental impacts of disposable nappies, and the benefits of embracing reusable nappies.

1. Single-use Nappies: the Disposable Dilemma

Since their introduction in the mid-20th century, disposable nappies quickly evolved into the mass-produced items which dominate the market today. Despite their convenience, single-use nappies come with a hefty environmental cost; from their production, which requires vast amounts of resources like water, energy, and raw materials, to their disposal, where they’re incinerated releasing harmful chemicals and pollutants, or linger in landfills for centuries.

The immense volume of single-use nappies being disposed of annually globally presents a significant challenge, particularly in terms of waste management. Every minute more than 300,000 disposable nappies around the world are incinerated, sent to landfill or pollute the environment. Just in the UK, nearly 8 million nappies are thrown away every year; that’s 3 billion a year according to the Women’s Environmental Network (WEN).

With most of them ending up in landfills or incinerators, disposable nappies contribute to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, which can exacerbate climate change. The disposal of most single-use nappies is also feeding the global plastic pollution crisis, with plastic waste accumulating in our oceans, rivers and other waterways, impacting marine life and ecosystems worldwide.

2. Alternative Solutions: Embracing Reusables for a Greener Future

We know there’s not a single solution to this multifaceted problem, but reconsidering our nappy choices and exploring alternatives like reusable nappies, is a “baby step” forward to help reduce the environmental impact of nappies.

Reusable nappies are an increasingly popular choice as an eco-friendlier option, and for good reason. Unlike their single-use counterparts, reusable nappies can be washed and used again, getting us closer to a more circular economy, cutting down on waste and saving families money in the long run. By making the switch, we not only minimise the ecological footprint, but also provide a safer and healthier option for little ones.

Reusable nappies, especially varieties manufactured using organic materials, are gentler on baby's skin compared to disposables, which is why they can come quite handy if little ones are suffering from skin conditions like eczema.

However, it’s important to admit no nappy option is perfect. Reusable nappies come with their own environmental footprint, mainly due to the energy and water required for manufacturing, washing and drying them. We can contribute to minimise their impact by adopting practices such as washing in full loads and using energy-efficient machines, but ultimately, there's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to eco-friendly nappies. Each option has its pros and cons, and it's essential to consider each family circumstances when making a choice.

It’s also crucial to recognise this switch shouldn’t translate into a burden for families and caregivers - it shouldn't solely rely on consumer behaviour. Manufacturers and waste management companies play a pivotal role in mitigating the environmental impact of both disposable and reusable nappies. By investing in research and development for more eco-friendly materials and production methods, manufacturers can significantly reduce the resource consumption and chemical footprint of nappies.

Additionally, waste management companies need to innovate and invest in better technology for the efficient processing and recycling of nappy waste. Collaborative efforts between Governments, stakeholders across the supply chain and consumers all over the world are essential to drive systemic change and pave the way for a more sustainable future. By working together, we can create a circular economy where nappies are designed with environmental considerations from the outset, and waste is managed responsibly, minimising harm to our planet.

3. Our Efforts: Swimming Towards Sustainability

Baby swimming schools have a unique opportunity to lead by example and take proactive steps towards a greener future. By raising awareness, providing support and information and promoting reusable swim nappies as an alternative, we can inspire a culture of sustainability within our communities and set a positive example for future generations.

Even if we can only commit to ditching disposable swim nappies, while keeping our nappy of choice in dry environments, is already a good starting point. Because the collective impact of many small changes in our journey towards a more sustainable future is nothing to sniff at. By collectively ditching single-use swim nappies, we can make a significant difference in reducing waste and preserving our planet's natural resources.

As a B Corp™ certified organisation, at Water Babies we’re committed to make a positive impact on society and the planet. We believe in more than just teaching little ones how to swim, understand water safety and grow their love of water. We recognise our responsibility to foster environmental consciousness among our communities, including our staff, the families and little ones swimming with us, our pool providers and within our industry as the leaders in baby and toddler swimming.

We want to be honest in our commitment towards sustainability, and that’s why it’s crucial we address and facilitate ways to mitigate the environmental impact the double layer nappy system might cause. By encouraging sustainable practices and introducing them into our programs, we not only help reduce waste, but also aim to inspire our little ones to love and care for our oceans and beautiful blue planet, so they become stewards of it from an early age.

4. Making Waves for Change: Education on Sustainability Impacts

Promoting an understanding of the importance of protecting our environment is also our responsibility as educators. But we aren’t here to shame or blame anyone. We get it, transitioning to reusable swim nappies can feel a bit overwhelming at first. In some circumstances, it might not be possible at all. Just be reassured your Water Babies teachers and the rest of our staff are here to support you every step of the way, from providing information on the different options available and carrying out fitting demonstrations to sharing care tips.

As part of this campaign, we want to answer any questions you might have about reusable swim nappies, so you can feel confident making the switch, from how swim nappies work to how to dress and layer reusable swim nappies like a pro. All while ensuring your little one is always wearing the right fit.

It goes without saying this campaign isn’t the end of our journey, it’s just another ‘swim stroke’ towards a greener future we all envision for our little ones. It’s not a small feat, there’s a lot to be done. For instance, we recognise the environmental impact of the neoprene used to manufacture some of our baby wetsuits and swim nappies, such as the Happy Nappy or Jammers.

We are committed to continue to work hard side by side with Splash About, our long-standing partner, to keep developing innovative products to prioritise the comfort and safety of our little ones, both in and out of the water, in the most eco-friendly way possible, making sustainable choices accessible and easy for all families.

Let's take the plunge into this journey together and work towards building a brighter and greener future for generations to come!