Recycling & Zero Waste Week - Colchester Cloth Nappy Library

Currently in the UK about eight million disposable nappies are thrown away every day, but Colchester Cloth aims to reduce that by offering parents a'n-appier' alternative!

Rachel Green is launching Colchester Cloth this Sunday, April 22nd, at the Recycling and Zero Waste Exposition at Firstsite, organised by Repair Reuse Recycle, with the support of Colchester Life! She tells us how it all came about:

  • Where did the idea for the Nappy Library come from?

I have two daughters, my eldest is 4 1/2yrs and my youngest is 10 months. I was pregnant with my first daughter when I moved to Colchester and didn't really know anyone let alone any mums! I did know that I really wanted to use cloth nappies, mainly  because of the environmental impact of disposables. I didn't even know nappy libraries existed then so it took a lot of research to find the ones we thought were best. Luckily we got it right and the nappies really worked for me and my daughter. Unfortunately I know of a lot of people who have splashed out cash on nappies that just weren't right or didn't even fit their baby. This is where the nappy library comes in, it gives people the opportunity to 'try before you by' to get the right style and fit for your baby which is great as every baby is different.

  • What spurred you into action?

With my second daughter I knew I wanted to use cloth again. I needed some advice as I was having issues with my old nappies (it turned out to be a detergent build-up). I had heard of nappy libraries by then but the only Colchester based one seemed inactive. I did however find the Maldon & Tiptree Cloth Nappy Library and noticed they were attending a local NCT group so thought I would go along. Whilst talking to Emily (from Maldon & Tiptree) she mentioned that Colchester hadn't had a nappy library for a couple of years which got me thinking..."I could do that!"

So I met with Emily and she showed me her kits and all the different types of nappy (there are so many!) Thankfully she had just been given the old Colchester library stock which she very kindly passed to me to start off! The majority of nappy librarys are not-for-profit and self funded by volunteers so to be able to have a starter kit was a God send!

  • How hard was it to garner support?

I registered as part of the UK Nappy Network which is an online community of other nappy librarians. This provided me with a wealth of knowledge and experience from some very clever ladies who have been running nappy libraries for years so this was another great source of support.

I've managed to build quite a strong online presence so the next step is to launch! I'm using the Recycling Expo as my launch day as it will be my first public appearance as the nappy library so fingers crossed I get a good response.

  • What would your message to the good people of Colchester be?

My message to the people of Colchester would be just think of any small changes you could make to your  baby routine that could avoid waste for example, using reusable baby wipes, or degradable nappy bags to start with. Disposable nappies take up to 500 years to degrade so if Shakespeare had worn disposables they would still be in the ground today!  Switching to just one reusable nappy a day could save over 900 disposables going to landfill! 


I think what people struggle with the most is the change in routine, washing and storing dirty nappies needs to be factored in but like anything once you've done it a few times it becomes normal. Another thing that puts people off is extra washing, washing nappies only adds 1 or 2 extra washes a week and actually decreases the amount of clothes needing to be washed. 

Cloth nappies are excellent at containment as they are elasticated at the back, this helps avoid the inevitable "poo-splosions" most new babies get up the back! In my experience having to clean up after one of these is far more messy than using reusables.

  • Do you have any other plans for the Library?

I am planning on having monthly meet ups called Nappy Natters. These will be informal coffee mornings.  We'll have various nappies available to demo, the chance to ask any questions or issues people may be having and the opportunity to sign up for a hire kit. The first Nappy Natter will be Friday 27th April 10.15-12.00 at Firstsite Cafe. I am planning on continuing these having them on the last Friday of the month.

Rachel can be contacted through the Facebook Page Colchester Cloth.