After a successful 13 years providing real nappy advice and support to families in Edinburgh and the Lothians, Changeworks’ Real Nappy Project came to an end last month. We caught up with Hannah Milne, Real Nappy Project Co-ordinator, who took us through some of the project’s highlights, from diverting disposable nappies from landfill to providing advice and support to parents at our Nappuccino events and helping break a world record. All of this couldn’t have been done without the support from a team of passionate and enthusiastic volunteers.

Hannah says, “The Real Nappy Project began back in 2003, with a pilot project supporting 800 families of newborn babies in the maternity ward of Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. The project has grown and evolved several times since those early days. From 2006 to 2011 the project also supported families in East Lothian, Midlothian and West Lothian, as well as Edinburgh.”

On a mission to spread the joy of real nappies, save families money and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, the Real Nappy Project and its volunteers distributed subsidised real nappy starter and lending kits to more than 1,600 families.

“This has helped divert a whopping 2,400 tonnes1 of disposable nappies from the landfill − the weight of at least 2,400 baby elephants!” says Hannah. “Modern real nappies are attractive to parents in a number of ways. Besides being colourful, reliable and easy to use, they can help families save £500 per child2.”

“The starter kit really helped me figure out what type of nappy to get. I found that choosing was the hardest thing about using real nappies. It is an excellent service.  Even occasional use of real nappies saves waste and money.”

Katherine, Edinburgh

Nappy fact: 62% of families who received a Changeworks’ real nappy kit (2015−2016) switched to using reusable nappies, 89% of these families plan to continue using them until potty training and 47% intend to pass their starter kit on to a friend after they finish using it.

Great Cloth Nappy Change 2013One of the biggest events the Real Nappy Project took part in between 2013 and 2015 was the international Great Cloth Diaper Change.

Hannah explains, “This is a world record breaking event, where families all over the world gather at once (in their respective time zone) to change their baby into a cloth nappy and raise awareness of reusable nappies. The Real Nappy Project was part of the group which broke the Guinness World Record in 2013. Thirty Edinburgh participants joined a group of 8,301 babies in 15 countries around the world for a consecutive nappy change!”

“Our volunteers have been vital to the success of the project from the outset”, says Hannah. “With their experience of using real nappies, the project has delivered demos at hundreds of Nappuccinos events. Since 2005, in Edinburgh alone, the project staff and volunteers have advised almost 4,000 people on how to use real nappies”. A major part of this success is due to the volunteers’ commitment. In the last two years, several of our long standing volunteers, Jo Nickson, Jennifer Bow and Emily Wood, were publicly recognised for their contributions to the Real Nappy Project with a Volunteer Edinburgh Inspiring Volunteer Award, presented by the Lord Provost. This year, the whole volunteer team were nominated, and it was recently announced that they are also to receive a certificate for their volunteering contributions.

Nappy fact: Since 2013 a rolling team of 10 volunteers have contributed 380 hours of their time to the Real Nappy Project, including helping out at regular Nappuccino events, offering parents real nappy advice and demos at local events.

“The Nappuccinos were such a great event for me to go along to and meet like-minded people to have a cuppa and discuss nappies. It created a wonderful support network when I was starting out. Because of this wonderful network of people I wanted to give back and that led me to volunteer for the Real Nappy Project. I look back on it with very fond memories!”

Sarah, Real Nappy Project volunteer

Choose real nappies!Hannah says, “On behalf of Changeworks, I’d like to thank all our volunteers over the years – we simply couldn’t have done it without you. Special thanks (and good luck) to our current volunteers who will continue to fly the real nappy flag in Edinburgh as part of their new independent volunteer-led group, the Edinburgh Real Nappy Community. Keep up the good work!"

“Thanks also to our many funders over the years, including the City of Edinburgh Council, Midlothian Council, East Lothian Council, West Lothian Council, Zero Waste Scotland, NHS Lothian, WRAP, the INCREASE fund and SEPA. Finally, thank you to everyone who has come to a Nappuccino, tried one of our incentive kits or supported the Real Nappy Project. Do keep spreading the real nappy word!”

Changeworks continues to offer a guide to using real nappies to help you get started and a real nappy starter kit, so you can test before you invest.  

  1. Source of stats: based on WRAP tonnage calculator 2007 and WRAP Real Nappies - Overview
  2. Go Real Nappy Information Service