Social entrepreneur sells reusable nappies to ‘reduce waste’

A customer demonstrates how to put a nappy on a child
A customer demonstrates how to put a nappy on a child (Credits: Francesco Zaffarano)

A shop in the heart of Hoxton is fighting to reduce plastic waste through promoting washable nappies instead of disposable ones.

Environment-savvy Joy Vick, owner and founder of Nappy Ever After, opened her shop in 2003 and it is still the only shop in London dedicated to reusable nappies.

“I started using reusable nappies for the first time on my second child and soon realised they were so easy. I couldn’t believe no one was doing something to promote them,” she said.

“I went to my council and asked: ‘Why don’t you do something about it?’ and an officer told me: ‘Why aren’t you doing something about it?’. And Nappy Ever After was established. So be careful of what you tell other people to do because you might end up doing it yourself!”

Ms Vick sells online and offers a laundry service for nappies, as well as opening her shop in Murray Grove for four hours a week.

“The only washable nappies available in the UK 30 or 40 years ago were terry towelling squares or muslins, used with safety pins to hold the nappy in place,” Ms Vick says. “Instead, today the nappies we sell are designed to go on baby like a disposable, fastened with snaps … they are much easier to use.”

The wide range of the colourful and environmentally friendly nappies available
The wide range of the colourful and environmentally friendly nappies available (Credits: Francesco Zaffarano)

According to Hackney Council, around 6% of waste in the borough comes from disposable nappies, equivalent to the weight of nearly 456 double-decker buses each year. For this reason, the council gives parents a £54 voucher to spend on washable nappies.

“I also get 5% off the nursery if I use reusable nappies,” explains Rachel, who came to the shop to buy a pack of real nappies for her baby. “It’s an expensive outlay at first but eventually you end up saving money,” she says.

“In the last three days, we have been using around ten nappies a day. It’s disgusting the amount of waste this produces,” says Mick, who became a Nappy Ever After customer just a week after his son was born.

Ms Vick’s shop is a partner of the charity Real Nappies for London, which is working to reduce disposable nappy waste. “We hold monthly events and demos with Hackney Council where you can receive advice and give and take events where you can get a whole pack of nappies for free,” says Alice Walker, project manager at Real Nappies for London.En

“This is still a niche,” says Ms Vick “but I see an increasing interest for real nappies because they are cheaper, good for babies’ health and, most important, for the health of the environment”.