Eureka! Nursery and single-use plastics

Rebecca Oberg

By: Rebecca Oberg | Date: 21/02/2019

We’ve all woken up to the damaging impact that single-use plastics are having on our environment, and particularly on our oceans.

The campaign to raise awareness really gathered momentum following Sir David Attenborough’s series Blue Planet 2 airing last year, prompting organisations and businesses of all kinds to look more closely at the disposable plastics they use every day.

In recent years, there’s been a significant shift in early years settings away from the use of glitter for that very reason, but when we spotted this article in QA Nursery written by Jennie Johnson MBE, Chief Executive & Founder of Kids Allowed Nurseries, it really got us thinking: What more could we be doing here at Eureka! Nursery?

Fish trapped in plastic glove - Photo: Roger Millán

Photo: Roger Millán

The biggest culprit for us (and the rest of the early years sector) is summed up in two words: Nappy changes…

Before a member of our team changes a nappy they put on a pair of disposable plastic gloves and a disposable plastic apron. This practice has been drilled into nursery practitioners for years as part of infection control measures, but research increasingly suggests that a “robust hand washing” system can be just as effective for the majority of nappy changes or clean-ups.

We at Eureka! Nursery, along with an increasing number of other settings, have decided to change the way we work be more environmentally friendly whilst maintaining effective infection control measures.

Writing in the QA Nursery article, Jennie Johnson says that she received reassurances from a “very senior” Ofsted figure that such a shift in procedure would not undermine their compliance with the Early Years Foundation Stage, and in fact was received positively.

This has inspired us to make positive changes to support the environment:

Our team now do a case-by-case risk assessment as to whether aprons or gloves are needed:

  • As we all know, some nappy changes can be… messier… than others, so gloves and an apron are available when needed.
  • For most occasions, clean hands and surfaces will do just fine.
  • Likewise, if the staff member has an open wound on their hand, they must wear gloves or other protective items.
  • We keep spare uniforms and laundry facilities available should a member of our team find themselves in need of a quick change!
  • We will continue to adhere to parent/carer preference when it comes to which nappies are used.

The team here are keen to find more ways to support our environment and we’d love to hear any ideas that you have. After all, our nursery children are the ones that will have to live with the consequences of our actions, so let’s take positive steps!

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Eureka! The National Children’s Museum
Discovery Road, Halifax HX1 2NE. Map