Loving the baby bundle – let's make it sustainable

Published: 20 Oct 2020

Photo of Becky Harford

Becky Harford
Activism and Communities Campaigns Officer
Friends of the Earth Cymru

In Swansea, some new-born babies’ families have been gifted a baby bundle of sleepsuits, toys, nappies and other items as part of a Welsh Government pilot. Becky Harford explores why a national rollout needs to go further than the trial.


Imagine a world where each new parent receives a gift just before their bundle of joy is born. The gift is a box, given to everyone regardless of circumstance, and in that box is everything you need to get you started on your journey of parenthood.

The adverts may tell you different but new-born babies don’t need much, somewhere to sleep, food, nappies, something to wear, blankets and the most important of all love.

That love for your newborn is also hope for their future, the potential lives they could live, and for the world that they are going to live in. What if that gift could help make their world better?

How can a gift love the planet and your baby?

Oh hello, sustainable baby bundle!


'A step in the right direction'

We love the fact that the Welsh Government is currently trialling the baby bundle which includes things like sleepsuits and toys. The bundle gives a nod to sustainability and includes a reusable nappy in about half of the trials. It’s a step in the right direction. But we’d like to see them go further.

We would like to see locally sourced, plastic free products included in the bundle. Also, if we are going to help parents switch from disposables to reusables, a full starter pack of reusable nappies, needs to be included, with all the things that you need to get going with reusables, rather than just one reusable nappy.


'Not like the old terry nappies'

If you’re reading this and imagining big terry towelling squares and massive safety pins, with 3 different buckets for soaking and washing and thinking ‘I haven’t got the space and time to do that’ then stick with me a minute.

What if there was a laundry service that dropped off fresh laundered nappies and took away the dirty ones? Would that change your mind?

Sounds expensive, right?

What if the money your local council saved because they don’t have to pay landfill tax on nappies anymore went to subsidising the laundry service?

Sounding better?

Photo by Laura Ohlman on Unsplash


'Imagine getting a free starter kit.'

I realise it’s not just as simple as chucking in a reusable nappy and the huge problem of nappy waste will disappear overnight.  If you’re on a low or fixed income the cost of reusable nappies is just too much money to spend. If you are time poor the thought of constantly washing nappies is off putting. But can we start to imagine a world where you get a starter kit free in your baby bundle?

Can we imagine a world where local laundry services pick up your dirty nappies and deliver you a new set, subsidised by your local authority, with local people running it like this one in London – which picks up and delivers using electric cargo bikes.

A world where you’re not the odd one out for using reusables.

A world where we’re not sending 200 million dirty nappies a year in wales alone to landfill or to be incinerated.  Wouldn't our ideas remove some of obstacles stopping some people from switching from disposables to resuables? Because disposable nappies are very bad for the environment. 


Let's look at the facts

  • Single use nappies use 20x more land for production
  • Single use nappies use 3x more energy for production
  • 1 tonne of waste per child from birth to 2.5 years if they use single use nappies
  • Decomposition of organic matter in landfill can pollute ground water and release methane, a harmful greenhouse gas.
  • They are expensive! £1475 more expensive according to money advice service
  • They also cost councils in Wales £2.4million per year in Landfill tax either that or they get sent for incineration, but that’s a whole other blog.
  • It takes 1,500 litres of crude oil to produce enough single use nappies to last from birth to 2.5 years


So, why do we still use them?

Well, some of you reading this blog might use reusables but lots of us are still using disposables. Perhaps because it's easy and convenient. We all shop in supermarkets with aisles full of disposables, and everyone we know uses them. Reusables are just not easy and accessible enough.  Reusables may be seen by some of us as something middle class people use.  I mean, if you are in a one room hostel waiting to be housed are you really going to be bothered with expensive reusable nappies that take up space? Doesn’t mean that these mums and dads don’t care about the environment, it just means that there are other more immediate priorities. To make real change, reusables must be accessible for everyone.

A sustainable baby bundle could solve these issues.



Why we need a sustainable baby bundle

If Welsh Government want Wales to be zero waste by 2050, or better as we have campaigned for by 2030, then we must do something about single use nappies. Why not tackle the problem using a sustainable baby bundle with starter pack of nappies and subsidised laundry?

It would remove all the barriers I’ve talked about and create local jobs in Wales via laundries and making and selling the other products in the bundle. 

Welsh Government needs to think big and give new parents the opportunity and means to change, so they can love the planet, like they love their newborn.



So, what now?

I’d like to hear from you especially if you are on a low or fixed income and have used reusables. The more voices we can add in support the better. I’d also like to hear from you if haven’t used them and why, and if you think that anything we’ve talked about here could change your mind.

If you’re considering using reusable nappies there are some great guides and blogs out there and loads of welsh shops that sell them.





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