Friday, 26 November 2010

Exciting times for Real Nappies

Well, I am finally coming up for air after working hard on a piece of research for WRAP which has seen me locked away in a quiet room for days!

One of the many interesting messages that have come out of the research is the low product knowledge amongst people who were reluctant to consider Real Nappies. That along with persistent perceptions on Real Nappies being old fashioned, messy and time consuming.

So it seems quite timely that we have now seen the launch of two prominent brands on to the shelves of 100 Tesco stores across the UK. This is a big move for the Real Nappy industry and one that many have been hoping for, for years.

Go Real met with Senior Buyers at Tesco early in 2010 to discuss this very possibility, believing that it would be an unrivalled opportunity to raise awareness of Real Nappies and how far they have come.

Although many of us have been passionately promoting Real Nappies for years, we have never been able to reach everyone and many is the time that we have wished for big budgets to allow us to buy into expensive marketing to help us compete more effectively with the disposable companies.

Now parents will walk past Real Nappies as they go to pick up their disposables, they will see the lovely fabrics, the beautiful designs and will be confronted by choice at the very point of purchase! This increase in awareness could be a fantastic opportunity for the Real Nappy industry as a whole.

Now, we still think that there is a massive part for all the smaller retailers, alternative nappy brands, Work at Home Mums and advisors to play. After all, they are the ones that have helped to get Real Nappies this far! These companies have experience, offer great advice, a huge choice and that personal touch; and with heightened awareness we could be looking at a much bigger market with more parents seeking out that extra special nappy that you just can’t find anywhere else!

Go Real is here to support the whole industry; our aim is to get more parents using Real Nappies and so we will continue to provide support to advisors, online retailers, small high street shops, major retail giants, nappy laundries, manufacturers and most importantly parents!

Whilst all this has been going on, the rest of the team have also been really busy! Jack is still working away on the Go Real website and after finding out how confused people can get with all the different Real Nappy terms he has put together an A-Z of Real Nappies.

Tara has been busy organizing a second training session for Surrey Children’s Centre’s meaning that 10 more trial kits will be available from the new year. Bec is working on some webinars to be launched in January and Laura is getting ready to go on maternity leave and just has one morning left with us! We wish her all the best of luck and can’t wait to get her blogging on all the latest Real Nappies, it is been quite a while since we have had a guinea pig!!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Go Real headed North last week to see what Local Authorities were's how we got on:

Last week Go Real, or rather myself, travelled 314 miles north (and then back again) to the 2008 European City of Culture, Liverpool, where for the last 2 years hundreds of Council waste officers, recycling officers, waste managers, sustainable development officers, waste minimisation officers and just about any permutation of a council waste person have met to discuss strategic issues for the waste management industry….commonly referred to as the LARAC Conference.

Guess what this years focus was firmly on? You guessed it, money…or rather the impending lack of and how Council’s could work smarter to achieve more from less. Given that Go Real have just produced and distributed our very first Local Authority brochure entitled, “Targeting Real Nappies – Cost effective solutions for Local Authorities” we felt this was an ideal opportunity to test the water and see if Real Nappies were still on the agenda and with the Waste Review responses now being analysed by DEFRA, also a great opportunity to hear what they had to say.

Over the 2 days there were a number of key presentations from LA’s on partnership working and cost effective communications, some good, some not so good, and to a certain extent I’m not sure we hadn’t heard much of it before, so the highlights for me were:

Gunnel Klingberg, Secretary General, Municipal Waste Europe – an interesting presentation from an EU perspective. This organisation is effectively the EU LARAC of LARAC’s and Gunnel discussed the waste hierarchy and the importance of upcoming changes in legislation. From a Go Real perspective, Gunnel was delighted to see the work we are all doing in the UK on Real Nappies and keen to discuss further how this could be shared across the EU. Go Real will be following this up in the New Year and will be contacting all our European partners that we have communicated with in the past. Needless to say, Diana left with a Go Real brochure in her hand!

Diana Linskey, Deputy Director in charge of Waste Strategy, DEFRA – this was the big one….the one I had travelled 300 miles to hear, and unfortunately, I was slightly disappointed. Perhaps naively I had hoped to learn more about initial findings from the review, but unsurprisingly I guess, Diana was limited in what she could say at this early stage. So what did I learn, well:
- average waste in UK has dropped to 281kg per person (so for a disposable nappy family that would equate to 30% of their total waste!!)
- behavioural change is still a priority? (surely that’s a green light for Real Nappies!)
- Business Waste is a priority – no surprise there, Commercial and Industrial waste far outstrips municipal waste and our pre-occupation with municipal waste has always seemed strange.
- Support for Recycle Now and Love Food Hate Waste will continue (stressing the importance of national government funded campaigns to increase participation, what about nappies?!)
- Role of govt. – only intervening where necessary (does that mean no more support for nappies or does it signal that where there is a market failure they will step in, we’d argue that there is a market failure because there isn’t a level playing field and parents do not get a real choice.
- Big Society – removing barriers to participation was mentioned, what bigger barrier could their be to a waste problem than the upfront costs of Real Nappies, our waste review response called for a national government backed loan scheme to combat this, supported by the Big Green Bank!
- Localism – reflecting local needs. The Real Nappy sector is defined by its support from local volunteers/agents/retailers and reflects the diversity of the communities it operates in. Granted we could do more to address disadvantaged participation, but many of our supporters work on the ground in their communities for example giving out old stock to needy families or working with credit unions or even providing interest free loans to drastically cut the up front cost.
- Deregulation – reducing the burden on business. Go Real called for financial incentives for Real Nappy businesses to level the playing field….will they see the opportunity to be creative?
- Waste hierarchy – it was clear that reuse was high up the agenda and that nappies therefore played their part, but no specific mention was made, but there again, no specific mention was made of any particular waste prevention option.

The review received 300 responses in total, which for me is disappointing given that 100 of those were from LA’s, 57 from business and 38 from trade associations, 16 from campaigns and 14 from charities/community sector.

Having said that, with a low response, perhaps the Real Nappy responses we are aware of will stand out well??

However, my final observation on the Waste Review is this, I managed to catch Diana in the lobby after her talk and asked her how they would weight the responses so the messages were not dominated by a specific sector. Diana stated that they were not using weightings and with specific reference to the community sector, she said we would be treated differently! You could take this two ways, they are going to really listen and react to our proposals or that they will be dismissed as irrelevant… with all the focus on the Big Society, we have to hope for the former. Needless to say, Diana left with a Go Real brochure in her hand!

Further presentations from WRAP on Love Food Hate Waste stressed the need for consistent campaigns that reinforced positive messages (sounds familiar) and that Civil Society membership organisations had a greater role to play in partnering on such initiatives, particularly because they reached groups that other organisations simply could not reach. (reminds me of the Carlsberg ad!)

Julian Parfitt presented research on why cutting communications spending in the short term only leads to higher costs in the longer term as participation drops and it becomes more expensive to get the public back on side. Clear and consistent messaging is so important and that is why national campaigns such as Recycle Now have been so successful. Julian also discussed findings on the ‘green jobs revolution’ from the US in which recycling jobs often produced some of the highest net benefits to society. Finally he unequivocally stated that going back to weekly collections of refuse was not the way forward and recycling rates would suffer, fortnightly was clearly the best option for increasing recycling rates. This is an opportunity for the nappy sector and if your Local Authority has fortnightly collections we should be working in partnership with them as they are more likely to be interested in a Real Nappy scheme to avoid the public’s negativity around smells building up!

So, 700 miles later and back in Cornwall, was it worth the huge expense?….on balance yes. However, if this conference is to have a future, then it needs to embrace Social Enterprise and actively open its doors to a sector that can, in partnership, provide many solutions to under pressure LA budgets.

Friday, 5 November 2010

November Starts with a Bang!

A busy week for Go Real HQ!  We dispatched Jon to Liverpool to take part in the LARAC (Local Authority Reycling Advisory Committee) conference, where he flew the flag for Real Nappies and tried to glean the priorities for waste.  Jon kept us all up to date on Twitter and Facebook but he is also going to blog on how the event went and so I will leave the detail to him.

This month we are concentrating on troubleshooting and there is a great exchange of advice happening on our facebook page.   One thing that is coming across loud and clear is a need for some washing advice and so we will be asking our manufacturer members for their advice and will add it to the website as soon as possible.

If you are looking for troubleshooting advice it is always worth checking out our Guide section, where you can find advice on potty training, night time nappies, using Real Nappies out and about and much more.  You can also email your queries to or give us a call on 01208 265941.

We were pleased, this week, to be able to present Catherine Geraghty from Cumbria with a collection of Baby Bee products from Burts Bees as part of our monthly competition.  This month the prize comes from Go Real member: Petit Guili who sell a range of eco friendly products as well as Real Nappies.  They are offering our November competition entrants the chance to win three beautiful wooden toys, just in time for Christmas!

We have also been busy welcoming three new members to the Go Real fold:  Nappy Go Lucky, Grace is Green and Harry's Cot.  Nappy Go Lucky and Grace is Green both provide online shops with a range of brands available plus accessories.  Harry's Cot has joined us as the manufacture of Doody Pants which they sell through their online shop, alongside other prominent Real Nappy brands.  We are also pleased that this week we have been able to make our new and improved Supporters Pages live which list all of the fantastic companies and organisations that help support Go Real

It seems that lots of our members have also been busy this week with Babykind announcing the introduction of the new Charlie Banana All-in-One nappy, Softbots launching a new questionnaire to help them tailor advice to customers and Bambino Mio introducing a limited edition heart print nappy cover.

If next week is this busy we might need a lay down!!