Plastic pollution: Banbury reusable nappy trial service 'inundated' with requests

Oxfordshire County Council wants parents to consider using reusable nappies instead of disposable ones to reduce waste. Stock photo, courtesy of the council
Oxfordshire County Council wants parents to consider using reusable nappies instead of disposable ones to reduce waste. Stock photo, courtesy of the council

Two volunteers offering reusable cloth nappies on loan or free trial kits to parents in the Banbury area have seen a large increase in demand as the council aims to reduce the amount of plastic pollution.

Nappy Bank has seen a 50 per cent increase in requests compared to last year with the organisers believing more parents are seeing the economic and environmental benefits of reusable diapers.

The trial kits, which include ten cloth nappies, a bucket and reusable wipes, are free to anyone in Oxfordshire thanks to support from Oxfordshire County Council, but people in the surrounding counties can pay.

Zoe Wilson, who runs the service from her Wigginton home, said: "Nappies have changed so much, even over the last decade, and certainly people are catching on now that it's really easy and with the Bank it can be affordable."

The free trial means unsure parents can try the reusable nappies before they buy any, as well as seeing which type suits their child, and if they want to continue, they can either purchase their own or loan them from the Bank.

Zoe said in the last quarter two thirds of parents who used the trial carried on with cloth nappies which she said is 'fantastic', as more and more are realising the idea of washing them is not that scary and can save a lot of money and waste.

Disposable nappies make up approximately ten per cent of all waste in Oxfordshire and contain plastics that currently cannot be recycled - costing the county council around £1m a year to throw them away.

The county council is working with local community groups and organisations across the county to promote the environmental benefits of cloth, or ‘real’ nappies.

Cllr Yvonne Constance, county council member for the environment, said: “Any new parent has an awful lot to deal with, so nappies need to be easy to use and comfortable for babies and toddlers to wear.

“Modern cloth nappies are very different from the traditional terry cloth versions of the past, and are now light, soft and easy to use, as well as coming in attractive colours and designs.”

Oxford parent Rachael Monks said: “All three of my children have been in cloth, the youngest is 21 months so still using them.

"Nappy rash is virtually non-existent and they have plenty of padding when they fall down!

“People may be put off by the initial cost but once you consider the ongoing spend for disposable nappies, using cloth is a money-saver.

"Drying them is easy: on the line when it's dry and overnight on the airer when it's not. You'll also avoid stinky bins filled with disposable nappies in the summer.”

Zoe runs the Nappy Bank with Lauren Eaves, who's Banbury home allows parents who cannot travel to Wigginton to still have a consultation with the pair about reusable nappies.

Councillor Constance added: “If cloth nappies are washed at up to 40 degrees and dried on a washing line, the environmental benefits are enormous, especially if they are then used for more than one baby.”

For more information about cloth nappies or to borrow a trial kit, email nappybank@yahoo.co.uk. Alternatively call the county council on 01865 816043 or email waste.management@oxfordshire.gov.uk.