WORKSHOP: Case Study - WEN encourages use of real nappies

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Background: Women's Environmental Network has been running the Real Nappy Campaign since 1996. Through an annual Real Nappy Week it aims to raise awareness of the environmental impact of disposable nappies and to inform parents about new shapes and fitted washable nappies. The week also encourages local authorities to promote waste-saving cloth nappies and to adopt a real-nappy project as part of their waste management strategy.

Aims: WEN wanted its 2003 campaign to ramp up public awareness and understanding of the cause, and to provide more avenues for parents wanting to find out more about the case against disposable nappies.

The charity also wanted to use Real Nappy Week 2003 as a vehicle to lobby the Department for the Environment to establish waste prevention as part of mainstream waste strategy.

"We identified nappy waste as a good example of waste prevention because it has an easily identified user group of new parents for whom disposable nappies make up a large proportion of their household waste," said a WEN spokesperson. "We wanted to break down the resistance to waste prevention within the Department for the Environment and local authorities and show them that practical waste prevention is easily implemented."

How It worked: WEN decided to increase its marketing of Real Nappy Week 2003 to try and establish the event as a focal point for groups campaigning for waste prevention.

Nappy display boards, posters, leaflets and other materials were produced promoting the environmental, cost and health benefits of cloth nappies over the disposable variety. The charity also used its 2003 Real Nappy Week to launch a new logo, which was printed on banners and distributed to all campaigning groups and environmental organisations to use throughout the week.

In order to raise awareness among new parents, WEN also used the week to launch a telephone information service called Nappy Line, which gives details of local real-nappy contacts for home washing and a nappy laundry service.

Results: The Waste Implementation Programme, launched by DEFRA in May 2003, put waste prevention at the top of the agenda for waste management, with real nappies and home composting identified as the first two areas for progress.

In 2003, over half the UK's local authorities supported the aims of Real Nappy Week with a substantial number actively involved in the campaign.

The launch of the Real Nappy Week logo was welcomed and used by campaigning groups and local authorities across the UK. The 2004 campaign plans to further strengthen the identity of the week as a focus for lobbying for better waste management.

Nappy Line generated 150 calls over the first two weeks from parents wanting to find out more about switching from disposable nappies. The number of calls has since settled down to an average of 35 calls a week.

WEN plans to use Real Nappy Week 2004 to lobby the Department of Health to adopt an overall real-nappy policy on maternity wards throughout the UK.

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