For many, when it comes to Reusable Nappies, it is the cleaning that can sometimes be a little bit daunting. For a while now we have worked and followed Solange from Eco Nappy Services that helps with just that, mainly focusing on Early Childcare Education centres (ECE’s), helping them to minimise their waste and save hundreds of disposables from landfill each week by hiring out Reusable Nappies and cleaning them! We hope to inspire more ECE's to follow and try this out!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family: I’m solo mum to my 7 year old daughter Olive, we live on the North Shore with our Yorkshire terrier Piccy (Short for Picasso), our cat Isla, and our fish whom seems to have a different name every time she’s spoken about haha.. We’re lucky enough to have lots of extended family living in Auckland too, both on my side and on Olives dad’s side which is super helpful when we need extra support at times like school holidays. Piccy is also ENS’s team mascot, he comes on all the deliveries/collections with me, and pretends to supervise in the laundry room.. when he’s really just hopeful a piece of digested and washed corn will fall out of the dryer haha.. yuk!
Where are you from? How did you end up where you are? I grew up on the North Shore with my Mum, Dad and Brother, I left school at 16 years old to go to nanny school in Whangaparoa and then started my career as a nanny. When I was 17 my Mum passed away which shattered my world into a million pieces, within a year my dad and brother had moved out and I flatted in our family home with one of my cousins and a friend. It would be fair to say I had a few years of being a bit out of control and wayward.
I nannied most of my life and had a few random jobs along the way, I did the OE thing and ended up spending a year living in Madrid, Spain which I fell in love with. The people so warm and friendly, the language so intriguing and the food.. oh my lord the food.. take me back! After coming back from Spain I met Olive’s dad and quickly became pregnant, although our relationship didn’t last our love for our daughter means that we put our differences aside to do what’s best for her - even if we don’t always see eye to eye. Even with all the nanny experience I had nothing could have prepared me for being a single parent with a newborn.
When Olive was about 3 years old I started to create what is now ENS.. I have poured my heart and soul (and every last penny ahhh!!) into this business, there have been a few triumphs and many tears shed over it and it has morphed along the way.. Life hasn’t been particularly kind to me, (I’m not sure it is to anyone really?!) but I’m determined to show my daughter what a strong woman can achieve. And It’s only taken me 20 years but I’m finally get the help I need to heal the emotional scares of my mothers passing - Better late then never huh! During the week you can find me juggling working and parenting/running the household. On the weekends I’m either doing child focused activities with Olive - or she’s at her dads and I’m free to work or have some much need down time.
What is ENS and what do you do: Eco Nappy Service - we are a cloth nappy hiring and laundering company - Meaning that we hire out cloth nappies to Early Childcare Education centres and individual families then we come and take away the used nappies to be laundered and delivery clean nappies. We focus mainly on setting up Early Childcare Education centres (ECE’s), helping them to minimise their waste and save hundreds of disposables from landfill each week!
How did this idea come about? I was having lunch with some girlfriends and one of them was pregnant, she mentioned that she was looking for a cloth nappy hiring and laundering service.. my initial thought was “Sorry a what!? Is that a thing??”. When I got home I started researching it. There didn’t seem to be one here in NZ so I modeled ENS off several that I found on google from around the world - selecting bits from each one and pulling them together to create ENS. It took around 6 months from the time I started researching until the time I set up my first client (my friend that was pregnant that had given me the idea!)
We are really interested in knowing more about your work with daycare centres. Tell us a bit about this. How does it work? Ok, so when a daycare centre gets in touch we set up a consultation (they can book a free consultation through our website www.ens.co.nz) , I go to meet with them, to discuss their needs and tailor a plan to suit them. From there we set them up with all the nappies they need, cloth wipes, nappy bins and bin liners. Often if they are having a staff meeting I will go along for 15 minutes to show the team how to use our system, answer any questions and explain what’s expected from them eg; solids must be flushed and inserts removed from the nappy before placing into our bins.
Once the centre gets started on the nappies we add them to our delivery/collection schedule, and collections run either daily or every second day depending on their needs. Once nappies are collected they are brought back to ENS HQ and methodically washed, dried, stuffed and re bagged ready for the next rotation. Each bag of nappies is washed individually and put straight back into its bag so that no nappies are mixed with another rooms or another centres nappies.
At a daycare, what are your cost compared to using disposables or using your services? In NZ disposable nappies cost around 60-85 cents each - When an ECE uses our services it works out to cost about 60 cents per nappy. It also saves parents having to bring nappies into the centres and saves the centre having to send notes home when more nappies are needed.
We know as a policy/guideline a lot of daycare centres have a 2-3 hour limit for how long they can have a nappy on, soiled or not, it goes in the bin. What are your thoughts on this? This is a great policy and should be adopted into homes also.. Just because a disposable can last up to 4 or even 6 hours it doesn’t mean it should! I’m sure no adult would want to sit in their own urine for that long, so why should a child have to? The best way to prevent nappy rash is to change nappies often!
If a daycare is interested in making the change, part from getting in touch, what would you advise them to do first? Book. It. In! Book in a consultation with us, change starts with one small step, one that you can take right now, book us in, get informed and make a change today! Also book in to see Kate Meads at one of her Waste Free workshops, only Kate could make a subject like waste so entertaining..
You are based in Auckland, but what if your daycare centre is somewhere else in this beautiful country and want to use your services, do you have affiliates/franchise opportunities to start ENS elsewhere? The only other businesses like ENS that I’m aware of are in Tarankai and Hamilton. I often get enquires for service outside of Auckland, and also get lots of people asking me how I set up ENS because they want to set up a similar business. Although I’m hesitant to give away my years worth of work for free.. I would love to franchise ENS one day for sure!
Why do you choose to use Little Genies Pocket Nappies in you? Babies, like adults are all different shapes and sizes, from long and slim to shorter and wider and everywhere in between, that's why when people ask me “what’s the best nappy to buy?” there’s really no one size fits all.. However I've found Little Genies to be a great fit for the majority of our babies. They are very affordable and easily accessible for family’s shoaled they chose to use cloth nappies at home. We find once people get their heads around the idea of cloth nappies not just being “for hippies” they tend to be open to giving it a try at home, so being familiar with Little Genies makes it super easy because they can pick one up from their local supermarket.
What is you #1 tip, to a new parent? Trust your instincts! My Mum used to always say “babies don’t come with manuals” But the problem these days is that they do, there are a million and one baby books on the market and you can drive yourself crazy trying to follow all the directions from all the parenting books, BUT you know you and your baby best, while you can pick up some good tips and guidelines from these books I think its most important to learn to listen and look for your babies cues, then trust your instincts to know what your baby needs and when.
Give us your best washing routine to apply at home: Best nappy washing routine would have to be:
- Flush solids down the toilet and dry store nappies in a bucket with a lid.
- When ready to wash - tip nappies into washing machine and run a short cold wash without detergent (or hit prewash if your machine has that function)
- Run your longest hot wash with detergent (60 degrees is ideal).
You can find heaps of nappy info at: