Momentum gained in waste reduction at Puddleducks Manchester St

| By Enviroschools Manawatū - Whanganui team

Puddleducks Manchester Street’s journey began in 2018 with a change from plastic bags to a personalised wet bag with the centre logo, each child at the centre is gifted a wet bag (see banner image) to take home any wet clothes, which has significantly reduced the use of plastic bags within the centre and also led them to undertake a full waste audit. This highlighted the significant amount of nappies going to landfill each year and showed that this equated to over 60% of the centre’s daily waste, weighing in at an average of 11.5kg per day, and totalling nearly three tonnes of waste per year.

Cloth nappies bin where dirty nappies are collected for washing.

The centre staff reached out the Nappy godmother to visit. Alternative options were discussed, what the process might look like and costs involved. Families and the wider community were then asked what their thoughts were before a decision to become a disposable nappy-free centre was made.  Cloth nappies are now used in the infant and toddler rooms, and biodegradable nappies for the pre-schoolers, with a new disposable system put in place. There are still a few disposable nappies used from tamariki arriving with these on, and they are wrapped in newspaper to be disposed of. The children leave the centre at the end of the day in a disposable, biodegradable bamboo nappy.

The centre has also looked at resources used within the centre and with particular interest to making a switch to natural materials for art and play, the centre often take community trips to the farmer’s markets and explore the nature environment opening the tamariki up to a wider range of experiences including planting seedling and growing vegetables in their gardens.  Food scraps are composted and there is a pig bucket in the staffroom. Plastic cling wrap use is almost zero with the use of washable food covers that are now used to keep the food fresh, and they also no longer use bin liners in any of their bins.

“Our Manchester Street’s Enviroschool journey has set the standard for changes across our services. The implementation of cloth nappies and also re-useable hand cloths have made a significant reduction to our wastage. This is our holistic approach to our philosophy of caring for the future generations.” – Natalie and Hamish Davidson

Manchester Street’s initiative to look into more sustainable practices has had a positive flow on effect to other centres. At the time of the initial audit stages Puddleducks had a couple of new centres been built and these new practices were implemented into the new centres straight away. To date the Manchester Street centre has diverted 16057 nappies from landfill and collectively the 6 Puddleducks centres in Manawatū have diverted a massive 88011 nappies from landfill!

“Over the past 18 months, I have had the opportunity as a kaiako to learn about and participate in the Puddleducks’ Nursery & Preschool Enviroschool programme. As part of this journey, I have seen so many positive changes within our centre including drastically reducing our waste output through mindful practices such as using cloth nappies, wipes, hand/face cloths and thinking in alternative ways to positively make a difference with our waste reduction. I am shocked and proud to hear that since our cloth nappy journey began, Puddleducks’ collectively has saved over 15 tonnes of waste going into the landfill, what an amazing difference we are making for our future generations!” – Jen Cullinan

Teachers completing a waste audit that provoked questions!

The success of their zero waste journey was shared with other Enviroschools in 2021, where Puddleducks Manchester Street presented at the regional ECE zero waste hui, their desire to share to their knowledge of their journey with others and encourage some of these initiatives to be introduced, the changes have been well supported by management who have been impressed by the economic and positive environmental impacts the actions have had.

After a second waste audit held in Term 1, 2021, the focus was looking at a zero waste project that looks at an alternative to paper towels, they have been phasing out the use of paper hand towels and now have introduced a new green cloth system in place, they have also sowed real grass in the preschool area instead of fake grass which helps the tamariki to enrich the connection to their environment and reduces waste.

Puddleducks Manchester Street Feilding has a passionate enviro-team of teachers who support each centre throughout the nursery and preschool towards successfully implementing projects on the journey to reducing waste and thinking outside the box for ways to achieve sustainability and are excited to see where they head to next.

“The Journey through Enviroschools for our centre is one I’ve been lucky enough to have been part of from the beginning. We have removed plastic bags and disposable nappies from our centre, created plant to plate projects, discussed cause and effect, gone on rubbish gathering walks in our community, reduced paper waste through paper free days and more. The teamwork and dedication that staff, tamariki and whanau have inputted is such that we know we can continue to reach for new goals and achieve them. Some of our families have taken on some of the initiatives into their own homes, along with staff and our wider Puddleducks community. We have come incredibly far in our waste reduction journey and have plans to continue this along with new avenues to ensure that we are instilling a great care for the environment within our tamariki, creating lifelong kaitiaki of our place and Papatūānuku.” – Sam Wheeler