April 13th, 2023
On average, one baby creates 700kg of waste to landfill in disposable nappies per year.
Little Droppings is reducing nappy waste from Adelaide residents by providing an easy cloth nappy loan and laundry service to parents and childcare centres.
In one year of operating, they saved over two tonnes of nappy waste from going to landfill.
Did you know that around 3.75 million disposable nappies are being used every day in Australia? This equates to a significant contribution to landfill with one baby having the capacity to produce up to 700kg of waste in disposable nappies to landfill per year.
Even though the impacts of disposable nappies are evident, making the switch to cloth nappies can have its own difficulties amongst the many responsibilities that parents must juggle when caring for their baby.
Having experienced this issue firsthand with her own child, Jacqui Storey was determined to find a solution. She is a parent, entrepreneur and project manager who is making it easier for Adelaide’s parents to care for their baby’s needs while also caring for the environment through a nappy lending and laundering service Little Droppings.
We spoke with Jacqui, CEO and founder of Little Droppings, to learn about her vision to make cloth nappies the norm for parents.
"Little Droppings is Adelaide’s only dedicated cloth nappy laundry service. The business is making cloth nappies the easy choice for parents and childcare centres. Before launching into the business full time, I was working on social and environmental projects as a project manager; including working in the waste industry as an auditor where I saw first-hand that the most impactful solutions to avoiding waste were not coming from the waste industry.”
“Cloth nappies are a great choice - for babies and the planet. But they come with a bunch of tasks like washing, drying and folding. Luckily, we get a kick out of it. We are the only business of this kind in Adelaide and focus exclusively on modern cloth nappies. The previous iteration of cloth nappies was a white terry toweling cloth, which has poorer absorption, is prone to leaks, and definitely not as easy to use.”
“We are aiming for a grand scale, which is to be a South Australian icon. We want to make it easier than ever for people to use cloth nappies than to use disposable nappies.”
The solution to the problem may not be where you think it is. Using a creative thinking lens, you’ve got to look outside the industry where the problem is occurring. In my example, the nappy waste problem was not going to be solved by the waste industry.
“As a parent, it was horrifying to see the 240L household waste bin getting full every week with mostly disposable nappies. We changed our daughter to cloth nappies when she was four months old, however, were never able to keep on top of the washing. It became less of a priority when managing the other aspects of being a parent – like feeding the baby and managing sleep cycles.”
“My Local Council, Unley City Council in Adelaide were very generous in sharing one of their waste audits with us, which revealed that around 16% of residential waste that was going to landfill consisted of nappy waste. And at that time, there were only two options for parents – to either use cloth nappies at the cost of time and effort, or to use disposable nappies at the cost of the earth. I asked other parents if they had the same struggles, and they did. This is when I conceived my second child – my business, Little Droppings.”
“Little Droppings is for parents who want to make the better environmental choice of using cloth nappies but find the washing too time-consuming. Customers can either use their own nappies or loan a set from us. The business has purchased thousands of premium quality, durable, ethically manufactured cloth nappies that are used repeatedly by customers. These cloth nappies have a life span of five years minimum, meaning one cloth nappy saves at least 260 disposable nappies, considering the cloth nappy will be used once a week for a minimum five-year period.”
“I had experienced using cloth nappies with my little one as well as the washing process; my biggest learning curve was translating these processes into a commercial scale. I had to search for local cloth nappy suppliers that had considered the ethical certification of their manufacturers.”
“I started operating from home on my domestic washing machine, but quickly outgrew this setup and had to find funding for commercial equipment. I was fortunate to receive a grant from Green Industries SA for my commercial washing machine.”
“Using a lean startup method, I launched a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ as early as possible before pouring too much time or effort into the business. To ensure people were actually interested in buying this service, I launched my website, engaged with parents’ groups in Adelaide and found my first few customers. To avoid spending thousands of dollars purchasing nappies as well as using virgin materials, I then got in touch with the cloth nappy library here so I could hire cloth nappies for my first customers.”
“Our nappy laundry service is currently offered in Adelaide metropolitan areas. This is how it works for our customers:
1. Choose between BYO or loan nappies- We're flexible. Users can use their own cloth nappies or loan from our beautiful range of nappies from Little Popkin (see above image sourced from Little Popkin), a local Adelaide designer. They can be loaned together with our laundry service.
2. Select your pickup and drop off location- We offer free pickup of the soiled nappies from the baby or toddler’s childcare centre or from their own home at an additional fee.
3. Your Welcome Pack is delivered- We deliver the Welcome Pack on the first delivery. The welcome pack includes a Little Droppings nappy bin, a mesh bag bin liner, a detailed info sheet and the option for a demo using cloth nappies.
4. Leave the stinky stuff to us- On Tuesdays and Fridays, we do pickups of used cloth nappies (from the chosen pick-up location). We'll pick up the dirty nappies and drop off freshly cleaned ones. We come back every week until they choose to finish the subscription. Parents can also pause their subscription until they are ready to start (if expecting a little one soon).”
“In one year of operating, we saved over two tonnes of nappy waste from going to landfill. Every customer will save 13kg from landfill for every week they are with the service. Our average period for customers is about 6 months – so that’s more than 312 kg of waste being saved by each customer.”
“We are a zero-waste organisation. Thus far the business has created almost zero waste, the only waste being through the packaging of our office goods. Our cloth nappy supplier delivers in reusable containers and our washing machine packaging waste was also taken back by the supplier for recycling. Our day-to-day operations include no solid waste. Our next target, which is high on the agenda, is reducing emissions through our electricity and fuel use - solar panels are planned to be installed later in 2023 so the washing machine can operate on renewable energy.”
“If you know a parent that wants to use cloth nappies but is put off by the washing process – let them know that nappy services exist for that very reason!”
“Learn more about our services at Little Droppings.”