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Tags: environment

The Environmental Impact of Nappies

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Parenting , Tags: cloth nappies, disposable nappies, energy, environment, nappies, reusable nappies

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We have long been warned of the environmental impact of disposable nappies - indeed the statistics are quite frightening: 8 million nappies enter landfill in the UK every day, they take up to 500 years to break down, and the quantity of raw materials and energy required to make them are staggering.  However, government research in 2008 found that the overall environmental impact of manufacturing and washing reusable cloth nappies may actually be worse than for disposable nappies.

One of the concerns of disposable nappies in landfill is for the amount of methane that they release as a result of the excrement inside.  This is a moot point as the same quantity of methane will still be released from reusable nappies, just not from a single landfill site.

There is far less energy used in the production of reusable cloth nappies when compared to the much more artificial disposable nappies, but this can easily be outweighed by the additional energy required to launder cloth nappies over their useful life cycle.  Indeed, the environmental impact of using reusable cloth nappies can be twice as damaging as disposables if certain measures aren't taken.  If you want to be a true eco-warrior then use reusable cloth nappies, but also make sure that you:-

  • Wash them at a lower temperature (60 degrees is adequate rather than a 90 degree wash)
  • Use an energy efficient (ideally A+ rated) washing machine
  • Avoid tumble drying the nappies, line dry them whenever possible
  • Use them for siblings and not just one child
  • Wash them alongside other garments on fuller loads, don't just run a wash for a few nappies alone

Out and About in Towns

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Preschool Children, Days out, Kids Activities , Tags: cities, colours, environment, signs, towns, trip, walking

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Often when we take the children out in the fresh air to teach them about the outside world, we head for the local park or nature reserve.  Our towns and cities are often overlooked as places to take children when in fact there is a wealth of opportunity for them to learn in built up areas.

So, how does an excursion around the town provide opportunities for learning?  Excursions in and around towns can help in the following ways:

  • It builds on children's everyday experiences
  • It helps create a sense of community
  • It helps teach about the different cultures that might exist around where you live
  • It promotes the idea of being out in the open air taking walks, keeping healthy and staying active
  • It can help children gain confidence about being out and learning about road safety
  • It helps children learn about how seasons can effect the environment in which they live

Things to look out for:

  • Different styles of buildings (cottages, old office block, modern houses, old shops)
  • 'Street furniture': street lamps, phone boxes, ride-on toys, post boxes, benches, display signs etc.
  • Road signs
  • Letters and numbers on shop fronts
  • Road and rail networks
  • Different vehicles (colours, styles, types)
  • Building materials: concrete, bricks, wood, glass, metal
  • Sounds and smells
  • The people around and what they do (bus drivers, road sweepers, children, adults doing gardening etc.)

How can you enhance the experience?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Talk about what you see as you go along your walk.  If you see a bus, look at it's wheels, the colour of the paintwork, how many people are on it, adverts on the side etc.
  • Listen to noises and discuss smells.  Try and name all the noises (pedestrian crossing 'beeps', diggers, car horns, sirens, shops blaring music)
  • Ask questions: where is the red car?, what's in the tree?, who can see a bus?
  • Spot different materials used in towns and talk about how strong they are: iron railings, wooden fence, plastic door, brick houses etc
  • Look at signs and talk about them.  What might they all mean?
  • Stop to watch a building site or a dustbin lorry collecting bins.  Chat about what they are doing and what happens.
  • Look at road signs and the symbols used eg speed limit numbers, construction signs, house numbers; discuss different colours used - blue/white for information, red/white and yellow/black for warnings, green/white for environmental information, bright colours for shop fronts etc.
  • Look for shapes: square garage door, rectangle front door, round letter box etc.
  • Take some photos of your trip and turn them out as a map.
  • For older children and pre-schoolers, you can couple the outing with other activities when you get back home
  • Ask them where they want to walk to?  Involve them in the planning of the trip and supplies they will need (eg. snack, drink)
  • Make a map of the trip and follow it, draw in any landmarks you pass
  • Ask them to remember things they saw on the trip and draw them when they get home

Have fun and enjoy your environment!

Cloth Nappies or Disposables? Who cares?

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Health , Tags: cloth nappies, disposable nappies, environment, land fill

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In recent years it has become even more popular to provide cloth nappies for babies and toddlers rather than disposables.  We hear about mountains of undecomposed nappy material littering the land fill sites and causing ecological dangers.  But, why should it matter what we wrap around our babies?  After all, it's only for a few years before they're potty-trained and surely there are more important ecological matters that deserve more attention?

Before you make a decision about cloth or disposable nappies, here are a few facts that are worth looking at.

  • In the UK each year, 3 billion nappies are wasted.  You may be contributing just 3 or 4 a day, but there are lots of other babies out there!
  • In the UK each day, 8 million nappies are thrown into bins which translates to 8 tons of nappy, every hour!

Disadvantages of Disposables

  1. They are expensive!  It costs about £700 per child per year on average.
  2. To create all those nappies, it takes about 7 million trees which need to be felled and transformed using valuable resources.
  3. Who actually knows the effects of all the chemicals that we use in the nappies and what they do to our babies skin?
  4. They can irritate eczema and cause sore nappy rash.
  5. The nappies NEVER break down in land-fill sites.

Advantages of cloth nappies

  1. Unlike the old fashioned terry-towel nappies, they are comfortable to wear and soft to touch.
  2. They are made of cotton and therefore are gentle on babies' skin.
  3. They are hygienic as the liners just flush down the toilet.
  4. They are attractive to wear and come in various styles and colours.
  5. They are not difficult to maintain - just pop in the washing machine!  There's no soaking or bleaching or long-winded routine to wash them.
  6. Safety pins and fancy nappy folding is not required - they are very easy to use and wear.
  7. They can be put away and re-used a few years later for your next child.
  8. It reduces landfill.
  9. Cloth nappy babies are potty-trained sooner than those in disposables.
  10. Some local governments actually offer grants for parents choosing to use cloth nappies and refund some of the cost of buying cloth nappies and using washing services.  Check with your local council.

It's pretty convincing and you'll be doing another little bit for the environment that those babies running and crawling around in those cloth nappies will actually inherit one day!

Breaking Through the Packaging

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toys and Games, Kids Activities , Tags:, environment, packaging, recycling, toys

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So, Christmas is over - how much packaging have you had to dispose of?  Is it just our imagination, or do children's toys seem to come with kilo's of superfluous packaging?  In Germany shoppers are entitled to unpackage goods at the checkout and leave the mess for retailers to dispose of.  That has encouraged manufacturers of all goods to reduce the amount of packaging they use - supermarkets and retailer's simply won't stock overpackaged goods.  We think that's a great idea!, in the USA, offer over 350 products in 'frustration-free packaging'.  These are the same regular products available as normal, but in an easy-to-open box that is easily recycled and doesn't recquire an additional package to be mailed out in. They work with manufacturers directly so that these goods are never over-packaged off the production line.  There are none of those annoying clips, wires, screws and other protective gizmo's that make it nigh on impossible to extract your children's new toys from their packaging.  It's better for the consumer, better for the environment, and it has to be cheaper for the manufacturer.  What a great idea!  We think Amazon  should extend this to all their markets!

Understanding the Landscape

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Child Development, Days out, Kids Activities , Tags: environment, new experiences, walks

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Growing up involves experiencing so many new things. As an adult, you can immediatly recognise the outdoor landscape, being able to identify lorries, tractors, pylons, streetlights, churches, factories, and so on. To your babies, these are all new, and they only begin to make sense of the landscape over time. Spend time outside with your children, go for walks and point out interesting features and objects; talk to them, and in time they will begin to learn about their environment. The great outdoors must be pretty baffling to a baby, but in no time at all, they will come to understand it and foster an appreciation for the finer things in life!


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