GECCO - Real Nappy Campaign

GECCO is a registered charity, established to promote sustainability in Early Years childcare and education.

Why a Real Nappy campaign?

It is now widely recognised that there needs to be a behavioural change away from plastic, “disposable” single-use nappies, towards reusable cloth nappies.


Single-use nappies are made using plastics, elastics, adhesives, paper pulp, and chemicals. They are resource expensive, using up oil, and lots and lots of trees. Nappies do not readily degrade and could leach toxins into the ground. It’s estimated that it could take hundreds of years (some estimate more than 500 years) before nappies begin to break down. It also takes more water to make one single-use nappy than it does to wash one for a child’s lifetime. Lots of poo is left in the environment instead of going through our sewage system.

Disposable nappies are great for emergencies and travelling, but should not be used on a daily basis. It costs 3x as much to get a disposable nappy to landfill or incineration than it does to buy it! We have got into a bad habit, without thinking things through. We need to change this if we care about our children’s future world.

The numbers are mind-boggling! Currently in the UK about 8 million disposable nappies are thrown away each day! Every child will go through up to 6,500 nappy changes before he or she is potty trained and there were 680,000 babies born in England and Wales in 2018; those children alone have the potential to use more than 1.5 billion (billion!) disposable nappies in their first year.

What’s happening?

A Nappy Library pilot project … and a campaign targeting the UK’s Early Years Sector

The UK currently boasts some 22,000 day nurseries and 400 grant maintained nursery schools, employing about 500,000 people. Not to mention the nation’s childminders and nannies. It’s a huge sector, and in the right cultural climate, in their unique position as childcare experts, nursery owners and managers, childminders and nannies have real potential to influence the parents that know and trust them.

GECCO is taking advantage of it’s close relationship with the Tops Day Nursery chain of 30 childcare settings to fund a pilot ‘Nappy Library’ project, encouraging behavioural change amongst their own staff (some 750) and then the parents of the approximately 3,000 children that attend. “We will be measuring the impact”.

Many day nurseries currently refuse children to attend in real nappies because it is perceived as being risky and problematic. The pilot ‘Nappy Library’ project at Tops seeks to test those perceptions through use of real nappies, role modelling, and sharing both pros and cons. If the results are as good as we hope they are, we can then take that message further afield, for others in our industry to learn from and (fingers crossed) to replicate.

Traditionally Nappy Libraries are community projects run by volunteer parents. The unique aspect of the GECCO campaign is reaching parents through the day nurseries that their children attend, with colleagues in those nurseries being fully trained in the use of cloth nappies within the setting, and then supporting parents to make the change.

How & when?

“If everyone makes small changes to everyday life we can make a significant difference between us. Everything we buy, everything we do, should be influenced by how our decisions and activities will impact on our environment. This is a journey that we are all on, we are bound to make mistakes, make wrong decisions, and to do things without thought. This website and the GECCO Facebook pages are for us all to share our learning and experiences and to help make the world a better place.”  Cheryl Hadland

Cheryl Hadland is the Managing Director of Hadland Care Group, the umbrella company for Tops Day Nurseries, Aspire Training Team, and founder of GECCO,

Cheryl is an avid diver with many years of experience and has seen first hand the damage that plastic can cause in the ocean. After learning about how dangerous the consequences of our everyday actions can be, Cheryl founded GECCO in 2017; she went on to complete a course in Sustainable Leadership at the University of Cambridge and has been working hard to educate staff, parents, children and the community on how to become more aware of the impact of our decisions and activities.

Are you using reusable nappies?  If so, please feedback your comments on our Facebook page or Twitter @GECCORealNappies they’d love to hear from you.  For more information, go to


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