Diving into Sustainability: The Case for Reusable Swim Nappies in Baby Swimming Schools

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of sustainability across all sectors, including governments across the globe, businesses and individuals. Younger generations are increasingly recognising the urgent need to address pressing environmental issues, such as climate change and global warming. They’re leading a worldwide movement to sound the alarms and raise environmental awareness around the world, reminding us there is no Planet B. It is essential for everyone to take responsibility to act now and safeguard the future of our planet.  

As a baby and toddler swimming school, an integral component of early childhood education, we can play a significant role in promoting environmental and social awareness. We’re in a privileged position to help nurture and empower new generations to be environmentally conscious, while taking proactive steps to reduce our environmental impact. Through our educational programs, initiatives, and commitment to sustainability, we can inspire children to become tomorrow’s stewards of the environment and the catalysts for positive change, in their communities and beyond. 

Our commitment to change 

In February 2023, we become a certified B Corp™ organisation. As a B Corp™, it recognises our commitment to make a positive impact on society and the planet, meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance and putting this at the heart of our business. We know we hold a responsibility to adopt sustainable practices and implement eco-friendly initiatives, contributing to the reduction of our ecological footprint. We also hold a deep commitment to accountability and transparency in our practices; which is why we want to raise awareness of our Double Layer Nappy System, the potential ecological impact of this policy, and how to minimise it. 

Double Nappy System 

Most baby swimming schools in the UK, like Water Babies, insist all little ones must adhere to the Double Layer Nappy System during their swimming lessons. This system, which typically involves the use of a disposable or reusable swim nappy underneath a reusable waterproof swim nappy, is crucial for maintaining pool safety and hygiene standards. The Double Nappy System helps prevent accidents and solid leaks into the pool - what we call “code brown”- ensuring everyone stays comfortable and safe during swimming lessons, minimising the risk of contamination in the pool and avoiding pool closures. 

We recognise the Double Layer Nappy System may sometimes involve the use of disposable swim nappies. While we can’t deny they represent a convenient tool for families and caregivers, especially in our busy and fast-paced day to day life, single-use nappies take a toll on our planet which cannot be ignored. From the huge quantities of raw materials consumed in their manufacturing, to the monumental volumes of waste they generate, disposable nappies add to our ever-growing environmental crisis, becoming a major contributor to the global plastic waste problem. The slow decomposition process of these nappies only exacerbates the issue, leaving a lasting legacy of pollution for generations to come.  

Challenge of disposing nappies 

According to a 2017 Euromonitor report, every minute more than 300,000 disposable nappies around the world are incinerated, sent to landfill, or pollute the environment. Just in the UK, nearly 8 million nappies are thrown away every day; that’s 3 billion a year according to the Women’s Environmental Network (WEN). By offering information and guidance on sustainable nappy options, such as reusable swim nappies, investing in innovative products produced in the most sustainable way possible, while comfortable for the little ones and made to last; and by facilitating the access to them, baby swimming schools can empower families to make eco-conscious choices which can contribute to environmental preservation.  

Swimming and environmental awareness 

At Water Babies, we believe we hold a responsibility to shed light on the broader environmental issues linked to swimming, such as water conservation, plastic pollution, and the importance of biodiversity, providing valuable insights and resources to incorporate sustainability into our daily lives, while inspiring and facilitating change in all layers of society, including our own organisation. In line with these aims and values, we’re excited to announce our latest environmental campaign, hoping to raise awareness about the environmental impact of single-use nappies and advocating for the adoption of reusable swim nappies. 

As we continue to promote broader environmental issues, we recognise the significant role nappy waste plays in these concerns. By encouraging the use of reusable swim nappies in our baby swimming lessons, we not only prioritize the comfort and safety of our little ones, but also take a proactive step towards reducing plastic waste and minimising our ecological footprint. 

Join the campaign 

As part of this campaign, we’ll be publishing a series of blogs which delve into the environmental implications of single-use nappies, from production to disposal. We’ll also provide information regarding the benefits of reusable nappies, and introduce the adoption of reusable swim nappies as a viable and eco-conscious alternative in baby swimming lessons, including step-by-step guides to make the transition as easy and smooth as possible. 

But before we dive in, and while we're passionate about promoting eco-friendly practices and alternatives to disposable nappies, please know at Water Babies we fully understand and respect the choices families make. We recognise disposable nappies offer convenience and ease many caregivers appreciate, and we would never blame anyone for opting to use them. Our goal is not to judge or shame caregivers, but rather raise awareness about the environmental impact of disposables and to provide support and resources for those interested in exploring more sustainable options. We're here to facilitate discussions, offer guidance, and empower caregivers to make choices which align with their values and priorities, all while ensuring the comfort and safety of their little ones. 

By leveraging our platform as a global baby and toddler swimming school, we aim to inspire positive change and foster a culture of environmental stewardship within our communities. We want to raise awareness about environmentally friendly practices among our staff, the pool providers we work with, the families, caregivers, and little ones swimming with us, and other fellow swimming schools; while understanding the importance of making sustainable options readily available, so  choosing an eco-friendly path doesn't become an added burden for families, both during swimming lessons and in other aspects of childcare. 

So, let's embark on this journey towards sustainability together, one splash at a time.