We’re 13 years old this year. Isn’t it time we did our own washing? Why don’t we run our own laundry yet? This is what I was asked at Zero Waste Europe’s annual conference in Ljubljana last week. I was asked the same question in January when I met the Mayor of Tower Hamlets about the closure of the laundry we currently use.
It’s not that we haven’t tried. Indeed, our last application for investment in a laundry was turned down the very afternoon after I had met JM Simon, the director of Zero Waste Europe. Coincidentally he was in London that day waiting for a connecting flight and he came and visited Nappy Ever After.
To say I was disappointed when we did not get the opportunity to even show our business plan to the investors is an understatement. Not least because I had found the ideal person with the experience, passion and desire to manage a nappy laundry – creating green jobs and reducing London’s nappy waste.
But the delay may not be a bad thing because we continue to learn from others. At the Zero Waste conference in Ljubljana I heard Joan Crous talk about how he has established a nappy laundry, Lavanda in Bologna which serves 40 nurseries.
Significant investment was needed for this laundry but the magic is in this book that he created and distributed for the children in the kindergartens. It is a beautiful picture book for kindergarten children showing why washing nappies is better than burying nappy waste. Art and stories have the power to move hearts and minds. I’m thrilled to have a copy of the book at Nappy Ever After. Do ask to see it next time you visit.
So how do I cope with these setbacks and disappointments? My philosophy has become the slower we progress, the more information and experience we accumulate and the more likely we are to make good decisions and succeed in the long-term. Meanwhile we give business to an existing inner London laundry and continue to help London parents choose washable nappies and reduce London’s nappy waste.
My message to the zero wasters at Ljubljana who wanted to reduce nappy waste was to just help real nappy culture grow. Start or support others in setting up a nappy library, an online nappy shop, nappuccinos, potty training sessions. All these small initiatives will start having an effect in reducing nappy waste, raising awareness, building a network and growing real nappy culture. It’s our friends and family who influence us the most. The more people who start using real nappies, the more the behaviour spreads incrementally.