Tag Archives: London

Beating new mothers with sticks, really?

“The terry nappy brigade (or washable nappy brigade) like the breast feeding brigade is  just another stick to beat new mums with,” said actress and mum of triplets, Jackie Clune on Jeremy Vine’s lunchtime BBC2 radio show, last Thursday (20 Oct 2016.)  I’m really sorry that Jackie* (who is currently playing Julius Caesar in an all female cast at the King’s Cross Theatre) feels like this.

For the last 20 years I have been watching parents spend far too much money on disposables and struggle with getting their 3 and 4 year olds out of them.  In 2003 I set up a business, Nappy Ever After to help people use washable nappies and find out if they worked for them.

It hasn’t been easy to get the message out there:  there has been a virtual media blackout on talking about washable nappies and potty training in an informed way because the disposable nappy companies spend big money on advertising space.  Even the BBC doesn’t like to say anything that does not reflect public opinion, even if that ‘public opinion’ has been bought by huge multi-national corporations.

But this nappy news item, despite what Jackie Clune said above, turned out to be different.  What was supposed to be a story celebrating the life of Valerie Hunter Gordon, the ‘inventor’ of the “disposable” nappy, became an item about the benefits of the modern washable nappy and the problem of nappy waste in landfill.  Hunter Gordon’s daughter even called the programme to correct the view that her mother was the inventor of the modern “disposable” and thus responsible for the nappy waste nightmare.  Hunter Gordon’s invention, the Paddi was a bio-degradable pad that sat inside a washable nappy cover – a very different product to the single-use nappy that contains super-absorbent material from polymers known as sodium polyacrylate.

You can hear the Jeremy Vine show nappy item here, fast-forward to 1 hour 9 mins.

For the record, the real nappy industry is  a small percentage of parents who have enjoyed reusable nappies and who want to share their knowledge.  We give information  and sell washable nappies because we have found them better for us, our wallets and most importantly for our children.

*Jackie, you asked on the show, what’s the point of giving up the convenience of disposables when wars are being waged around the world.  That thought has occured to me, but sadly, there is nothing I can do to stop the wars.  However I can help reduce nappy waste.    I can understand that real nappies may not work for you, but please don’t disrespect us with ill-informed cliches:  the other London nappy laundry company, Number One for Nappies was started and is still run by a father of twins (black and not middle-class.)

As people who are privileged to live in a land of peace it’s our responsibility to act in ways that work for us.  We can also try to increase the demand for single-use nappies that do not contain SAPs and could be composted locally.  I talk about this here.  That could be the best solution we know about for now, along with better knowledge about potty training as publicised by Kandi Burruss.  Humanity is at stake as shown by another theatre company, Complicite in its ground-breaking show, Encounter.

And Jackie Clune, if your triplets are still in nappies I’d be happy to give you a set of gNappies to try out on one of them.  Even if you only use washables some of the time you’d be reducing waste and you may even discover that you love them.  Actually they can be used with disposable inserts and are not unlike the product invented, so long ago, by Valerie Hunter Gordon.

Why we are not at the #Baby Show

The Baby Show is on and we are often asked why we don’t attend.  The reason: the events company that runs the Baby Show also holds arms fairs. Of course they call them Defence & Security shows.  As far as we’re concerned they help arm both sides of conflicts and make money from it. Our customers shop with us because they want to make the world a better place for their children.  We believe our customers would not want us to give money to a company like Clarion Events even if it attending its Baby Shows would bring our nappies to a wider audience. Are we right?  Tell us what you think.

No delivery charges when you Click & Collect!

After much thought, we have decided to stop  postal/courier delivery services from our on-line shop.  After 3 years of trying to deliver a service that is often excellent but too often disappointing, causing stress, and expense and wasting everyone’s time, we have realised that we can’t deliver a service that is cost-effective and meets customer expectations.

As we have a shop based in London, within a 5 minute walk of Euston, Kings Cross and St Pancras stations (we probably have the best public transport links in Europe,) we’re hoping more of you will Click& Collect.  Look on Streetmap. These days you don’t even have to walk along the Euston Road from any of these 3 stations.   Often partners, friends or neighbours pick up on-line orders for our customers and this works really well.  Although our ‘shop’ hours are restricted (Tuesdays 2-6pm, Wed 9am-4pm) we are often here doing admin.  Just call or email to arrange.

We also like meeting you – and your babies!  Running a real nappy business and shop is not easy.  It’s always been meeting our customers that’s made it enjoyable and given us the will to continue.  Plus knowledge and experience gets shared.  It’s good!

You can also pick up from Hackney City Farm on the second Wednesday evening of the month when we run nappy info sessions.  From March (or earlier if there’s demand) we will be running real nappy sessions at Mother’s Hub, E17 so you can collect orders from us there.   It’s possible we could arrange other collection points, such as Children’s Centres that are open during the day.  Let us know if you have suggestions that work for you.

We understand some of you can’t get out.  If you live in Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Tower Hamlets, Camden or Waltham Forest we may be able to deliver (when we’re doing the laundry round).  Call or drop us an email to ask.

If you really want an order sent to you phone or email. We may be able to send by courier but we just need to to make it clear, we are not Amazon!

This is a quality of life issue.  We know that just-in-time deliveries and repeated missed deliveries are an environmental issue, especially for London air quality.  We don’t want to be contributing to that problem.

What we also  want to do is get rid of the diesel vehicle we use for our laundry service and get our electric freight bike out of the shop window and back on the road.  Any suggestions of grants available?   We have some fund-raisers planned so please look out for those and help publicise (we’re running them in Climate Week – 3-9 March 2014).  We need about £2,000 for new batteries and a charger to make this happen.  If it reduces costs (we think it will) we’ll be able to bring down the weekly laundry service charge.  So a better way to do business.

Review by Mamme italiane a Londra

The lovely Alessi from Mamme italiane a Londra visited our Central London store recently and wrote a fab review for us to share: English first, then the Italian for our Italian mamme.

I discovered this gem in the heart of Camden:

NAPPY EVER AFTER, 96 Chalton street, NW1 1HJ

This little shop in Chalton Street specialises in washable nappies (reusable nappies, or those made of cloth – you know the type) as well as other eco-friendly products. It’s the only reusable nappy shop in Central London, or so says its Facebook page Nappy Ever After and I can also confirm that to be true. Before Greta was born, I wasted time and energy to try to get my hands on what for me had become a mirage: the washable nappy that seemed to exist only on my computer screen.

You could buy everything on line (and I did), without trying anything, trusting the reviews first and then the instructions. But a cloth nappy costs between 10 and 15 pounds and, for that price, it’s best to figure out the right system/brand from the very start. How do you find out if your little being is a ‘bumGenius’ baby or prefers the folding nappy by ‘Bambino mio’, or the ‘Bamboozle’ shaped nappy? Let’s all go to Chalton Street!

Nappies on display!

Nappies on display!

I read on their Facebook page that the shop began in order to help London parents (excluding those in Hackney who already know everything!) discover how easy washable nappies can be…and in true Camden style, all in the form of a non-profit organisation.

Crossing the threshold, you find yourself in front of shelves piled with washable nappies in thousands of shapes, colours and sizes, all neatly folded. On the left, there are mountains of nappies stuffed in transparent packaging. Then I found out that Nappy Ever After also offers a laundry service for cloth nappies, similar to that used by hotels for their linens. As it turns out, not all dirty laundry needs to be washed at home.

Nappies for NEA's laundry service

Nappies for NEA’s laundry service, photo credit Alessia Antonelli

That would be enough for me right there, I’m as excited as a six-year-old on a first trip to Disneyland, but my gaze continues to wander and I discover more nappy wraps, liners, washable swimming nappies, olive oil soaps, sanitisers, reusable breast pads made of silk (of SILK, who knew they existed), bottles for refills from the boxes of Ecover eco-friendly laundry and cleaning products, finishing with some Nordic-style clothing lines (much to the joy of Enrica who takes care of our Saturday column) in organic cotton of which I recommend the Disana clothing.

Shop for breast pads, eco-friendly washing powders and clothing.

Shop for breast pads, eco-friendly washing powders and clothing, photo credit Alessia Anotonelli

All of this is going on, while, beside me, they are carrying out personalised fittings of a baby sling to suit you and your baby. An expert gives you specialised advice and then the option to hire your sling before buying it (as an example, £6 for two weeks).

I share my joy with Su, the Nappy Ever After shop manager, and can’t stop squeaking with pleasure. Then a dark thought crosses my brain. Once upon a time, similar bursts of enthusiasm came from the perfect pair of shoes, or the dress that made me look much thinner and I’m there, there to get depressed. Then Greta looks at me, grabs the first nappy off the shelf, throws it on the floor and makes a hilarious grin that makes bystanders smile. I look at my shoes and think…well who’s going to see them behind the pram anyway.

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Ho scoperto una gemma nel cuore di Camden..

NAPPY EVER AFTER, 96 Chalton street, NW1 1HJ

Questo negozietto in Chalton street e’ specializzato in pannolini lavabili (pannolini riciclabili, di stoffa o comunque li conosciate) e prodotti ecologici affini. E’ l’unico negozio di pannolini ecologici in Central London, cosi’ e’ scritto sulla pagina facebook Nappy Ever After e cosi’ confermo io. Prima che nascesse Greta ho investito inutilmente tempo ed energie per cercare di toccare con mano quello che per me era diventato un miraggio: il pannolino lavabile che sembrava esistere solo sullo schermo del mio computer.

Si potrebbe comprare tutto online (cosi’ feci io) senza provare, fidandoti delle reviews prima e delle istruzioni poi. Pero’ un pannolino in stoffa costa tra 10-15 sterline e a quel prezzo sarebbe meglio indovinare subito il sistema/la marca giusta. Come scoprire se la vostra creatura e un “Bumgenius” o predilige il pannolino pieghevole “Bambino Mio” o la mutandina “bamboozle”? Tutti in processione a Chalton street!

Leggo sulla pagina Facebook di NAPPY EVER AFTER che il negozio nasce per spiegare ai genitori mortali (quindi tutti esclusi quelli di Hackney, quelli sanno gia’ tutto) quanto possa essere facile utilizzare pannolini lavabili…ed in vero stile Camden, tutto sotto forma di associazione NON PROFIT.

Varcando la soglia ci si trova davanti scaffali colmi di mutandine lavabili in mille colori, forme e taglie, tutti ordinatamente piegati. Sulla sinistra si stagliano montagne di inserti assorbenti di stoffa (nappy) imballati in buste trasparenti. Cosi’ scopro che Nappy Ever After offre anche un servizio “lavanderia” per econappies che somiglia molto a quello utilizzato dagli alberghi per le loro lenzuola. A quanto pare, non tutto il bucato sporco deve sessere lavato in famiglia.

A me basterebbe cosi’, sono eccitata come un bambino di sei anni per la prima volta a Disneyland, (o a Fiabilandia, per la compagine romagnola) ma lo sguardo continua a vagare e scopro altre mutandine, liners, swimmers lavabili, saponi all’olio d’oliva, polveri sterilizzanti, coppette assorbenti di seta (di S E T A…manco sapevo esistessero), taniche per la refill di ECOVER (ecologia al quadrato), finendo con qualche linea di abbigliamento in cotone biologico dal gusto Nordico (per la gioia di Enrica che cura la nostra rubrica del sabato) tra le quali mi senti di raccomandare DISANA.

Tutto questo accade mentre di fianco a me si eseguono fitting personalizzati sul “tipo di marsupio piu’ consono a te ed al tuo bambino”. Un’esperta ti consiglia dandoti l’opzione di noleggiare il tuo marsupio prima di comprare (6 sterline per due settimane).

Condivido la mia gioia con la manager e non smetto di squittire di piacere. Poi un pensietro tetro mi attraversa il cranio. Un tempo simili slanci di entusiasmo accadevano davanti al “perfetto paio di scarpe”, o “al vestito che mi fa sembrare molto piu’ magra!” e non erano certo causati dalle coppette di seta o dai pannolini lavabili…..e sono li’ li’ per deprimermi. Poi Greta mi guarda, afferra il primo pannolino che trova sullo scaffale lo getta per terra e fa una smorfia buffissima che fa sorridere gli astanti. Io mi guardo le scarpe e penso “ma si…tanto chi vuoi che me le veda da dietro il passeggino?”

Alessia per mamme italiane a Londra

Thanks to Sharon Singleton for the translation.