Reusable Products Week

Sunday, 24 March 2019  |  Admin

Reusable Products Week 2019

Welcome to Reusable Products Week. Eh, say what now? Don’t you mean Real Nappy Week? Erm, nope.

Firstly, I take umbrage at the phrase ‘real nappies’. What is real about them? Does this mean disposables are fake? Is this more fake news… are they just imaginary then? Sadly, no. Disposables are far from imaginary, and considering they are now over 4% of everything sent to landfill, don’t break down for up to 500 years (and if you wrap them in the oh so lovely plastic bags, then double that), they are far from imaginary. But they are not ‘fake’ and cloth is not ‘real’. So having a 'real' week is a bit of an oxymoron. Of course, it is just my opinion but I’ve tended to refer to the week as ‘reusable nappy week’ in the 16 (yikes, 16!) years I have been helping to promote it. Thankfully I see that enlightened cloth retailers are now using this phrase and have ditched the annoying and meaningless ‘real’.

So why aren’t you celebrating reusable nappy week then? Well, for lots of reasons. I have thought long and hard about this. The week had an amazing history starting with the Women's Environmental Network way back when, but now it appears it has drizzled out as no real core organisation is organising it or pushing it. Yes, a few retailers have some promotions on, but the buzz has most definitely died. In the height of week’s appeal, the Reusable Nappy Association (RNA) (sadly disbanded) had a huge treasure hunt with over £15k of donations and about 100,000 entries! With, from memory, over 70 retailers taking part there was most definitely a ‘buzz’ with retailers sites crashing and lots and lots and lots of people winning lots and lots of cloth. Some retailers grumbled it was just a chance for existing cloth users to get bargains (was that such a bad thing?). Others saw the benefit of the greatly increased publicity and saw how people who had never considered cloth were just trying them because of the deals, because of the promotion, or simply because they had stumbled upon the hunt and won some! I’m sure if I ask in our group, how did you find Baba Me or start using cloth many would say it was through winning or even taking part in a RNA competition that started them on the path.

So, if it's dying, shouldn’t I take up the gauntlet and get it going again. Yeah, been there and done that. The RNA was mainly run by myself, Wendy from The Nappy Lady and latterly Gina from Max & Bella’s. It was a ridiculous amount of work, which sadly we could not continue to do whilst also running our small independent shops. But also, and more importantly, I think the world has moved on slightly. With the increasing awareness of the damage of single-use products does to our world (not just disposables), thanks to the likes of the brilliant Blue Planet series.  We need to raise awareness across the board and not just focus on one single product. We were one of the first retailers to stock reusable water bottles with the ThinkSport bottles in 2007/8. We tried to distribute them, but at the time the nappy retailers didn’t see the future in stainless steel reusable water bottles! Thankfully, they and the public are now more informed and I see lots of retailers now selling various brands. I love our Fosh Bottles. A nice range of sizes, colours and a reasonable price and I love supporting smaller independent manufacturers. I still have my ThinkSport bottles 11 years on, but they are quite heavy and cumbersome in comparison to more modern designs and I do reach for my gorgeous Fosh Tropical a lot more!

So, I just stood back & pondered where we are, and where we need to be going. As one of the first retailers of reusable straws, the news this week that the UK is going to impose a plastic straw ban by the end of the year filled me with glee. One battle won, many more to go! We’ve been selling eco shopping bags from day dot, and with the introduction of the plastic bag tax made a huge reduction in plastic bag usage (95% in the Republic of Ireland where the levy was first introduced) another battle has been won. But there are many many more battles to win. The biggest way to win the battle is by public awareness. Therefore why not have a reusable week just to highlight how we all can make small steps which can make a huge impact on our precious earth.

So, why not have a week where we just focus on reusable products and all those little steps which can help, and not just focus on one item or one area. Yes, I get that nappies are a little more ‘out there’ and need a lot more work, explanation and help to convert people. But if we are raising awareness about a more green or eco living lifestyle, then it makes sense to look at a wider selection, rather than just hone in on people with young babies. If we convert society to reusable bags, bottles, straws and even menstrual cups instead of tampons or worse disposable sanitary pads, then they are taking all the small steps to permanently ditching disposable products. It becomes second nature to them, when they have babies, to consider a greener alternative. I feel it makes much more sense to do this awareness in conjunction with one another, rather than as a stand-alone project. Converting people to reusable sandwich wraps is superbly easy, converting them to using cloth is harder. But if we have got them on the path, if we have them thinking about single-use products and how catastrophic they are for our planet, then we are winning.

So for the first week, yes I will be focusing on raising awareness of using cloth, but also of switching to reusable menstrual products, to reusable food products and so much more. Throughout this week, which launches on Earth Day, we have lots of blogs, vlogs and awareness campaigns planned. We have some surprises coming throughout the week which will hopefully keep the buzz up. Our week will focus on us taking those first small steps and becoming more aware of the consequences of our choices. Reusable Products Week 2019 will be held from 22nd April - 29th April 2019. How many more battles will we have won by then?

As a society, we really have to stop and consider the environmental impact of our propensity for single-use products. We have so much waste going to landfill, and worse into our oceans we have to change. We launched a new ‘grown-up’ website in Fairtrade fortnight, Danuworld and its slogan is ‘be the change’. We, quite frankly, have to be the change our world needs. So this week is all about being the change, ditching the plastic and returning to using reusable products, something our forefathers would have done naturally. This is why we have chosen to focus on a reusable lifestyle in general over a single item week. We want to see a fundamental change in the way we use products and a societal shift to a more sustainable lifestyle where reuse is something that is just second nature to all of us.

I know a lot of people know the damage and don’t know where to start or presume they can’t afford the change. Ironically, most reusable products will save you a fortune. Tot up the cost of a lifetime supply of disposable sanitary pads against buying 1 menstrual cup - that's some saving! Washable nappies will save you £1k per child, whilst adding in washable wipes and you are on the pigs back! Yes, there is more use of the washing machine, water and electricity but overall the environmental savings have proven to be at least 40% when using cloth over disposables. I’m sure using organic cotton incontinence products over their disposable plastic alternative, is also a lot more comfortable as well as saving money. I know I prefer fabric to plastic around my panty area!

Take a water bottle wherever you go, rather than continually shelling out for plastic bottled water and that's more pennies in the bank. Eating on the go is also so much easier these days with a plethora of reusable sandwich wraps or stainless steel food containers. I love the simplicity of the boc n roll which will wrap pretty much anything for on the go or the amazing Abeego beeswax food wraps for in the house. Clingfilm be gone! The much talked about latte tax on single-use coffee cups, is, overall a good thing. Keep Cups are idea replacements and all coffee shops will happily fill your own cup for you.

One of the biggest issues facing us is the plastic packaging on food at supermarkets, but even this can be mitigated. I love the rise of the zero waste shops but sadly, there are none in my vicinity. We sell the reusable fruit and veg re-sack bags which are ideal when shopping as you can put your produce into them rather than grabbing the plastic bags in the food aisle.

Reducing waste is always a priority but this week aims to raise awareness about items which can be used again and again and again, whether it is baby products, feminine hygiene or food storage.

Each day this week we will be focusing on a small step you can take on the journey to eco-living or just being more sustainable. Being green these days is not about being a hardcore hippy living with a compostable toilet in a mud house. It’s about ALL OF US making the difference and just thinking how we can reduce our reliance on plastic and single-use products. We hope to reach out to everyone and help them make those small steps, to help them be the change.

The first small step is to banish the plastic bottles. How? Simply comment below telling us what small step you hope to make this week.