Since January 2019, our 15th year of Woodlands we decided that we needed to further our commitment to our children by trying to maintain and improve their planet. We want them to not only have the best experience with us in their early life but also to ensure that the world around them is more wonderful than it is now. As a large setting we know we need to reduce our carbon footprint and that we have a large platform to inspire others to do the same.
This year we are working to make our business and our settings more eco friendly. Follow our journey to see the changes we have made so far and are continuing to do.
We have set up our own Instagram page too so please follow us there @woodlandsecoproject or our Facebook Woodlands Early Learning. We’d also love to see the things you are doing at home too so please tag us in or use the hash tag #woodlandswarriors
Together we can help ensure our children and future generations get to experience the same amazing planet we have. There is no Planet B.
As well as our commitment to teach our children about the change they can make we have also already made several changes within our business that are helping to reduce our carbon footprint. Our aim is to have significantly reduced our waste over the year including food waste, increase our recycling whilst also reusing what we can and eliminated single use plastics throughout both settings. This will be done through finding alternative products to those we are so used to using. Sourcing more eco friendly, sustainable products that share our vision but also reducing the amount of consumables we buy.
So far we have made huge progress in this area, we have stopped purchasing as much blue roll and have started to use more flannels, washable cloths and tea towels. We set ourselves the “Blue Roll Challenge” to really show our staff and children the vast amount we were using monthly, whilst also raising money for The World Land Trust. So far we have managed to reduce our Blue Roll use by 75%! Which we are very proud to have achieved in such a short space of time.
We have also stopped the use of plastic shoe covers in our Baby Bees. We are now using washable, fabric covers that are much kinder to the environment and also reduce our waste.
All of our staff now use fabric and washable aprons when serving food so no longer have to throw away plastic one use aprons. This has meant a huge reduction in plastic waste, as all of our staff would have normally worn an apron each, per meal, across both settings!
We have moved from standard branded nappies to providing and selling Biodegradable nappies from the British brand Kit and Kin. We also use the wipes and nappy sacks. The nappies are hypoallergenic, chlorine free and gentle on skin, so we haven’t compromised on quality, whilst also being made from sustainable materials, biodegradable and cruelty free. Even the nappy bags are completely compostable and biodegradable.
We gift all of our children a canvas nursery bag when they begin their journey with us to discourage the use of plastic bags being bought into the setting. We have sourced our own drawstring bag, with our logo, that is large enough for all of the day to day essentials that is also plastic free and sustainable.
We are now providing stainless steel Pura bottles for all of our children to use instead of plastic water bottle and baby bottles. These bottles are not only better for the environment they can also change for the growing needs of our children. They can be converted from a baby bottle to sippy cup to sports bottle and are more durable meaning there isn’t a need to keep replacing them, which helps us reduce waste. They are 100% plastic free, non toxic and BPA free.
We have made numerous changes within our nursery that have positively reduced our carbon footprint. We are continuously challenging our thinking to change the resources we are used to. Our children love to be creative and we felt there was no reason they should be limited to what they could use, even on our mission to be more green. We understand the damaging effects glitter can have on our environment and so our Rising Fours decided to research making their own, after several different recipes they were successful! We have now eliminated all glitter use from our settings and instead encourage our children to make their own. Our Baby Bees have also made their own eco friendly and home made paint.
We are also moving away from purchasing plastic toys and instead using real, everyday items and natural wooden toys. We find these toys not only allow the children to better connect with and understand their world, they also encourage their imagination. This also allows us to upcycle many items that would have gone straight to landfill. Our amazing staff are very inventive with ways to ‘upgrade’ items, recycle and make almost anything in to learning resource.
We have also been emowering our children to use their voice to make a change too. They recently wrote to our local council and told them about the changes we have made and invited them in to see. They were delighted with the invitation and came to meet our children who showed them around. Together they made plant pots from old plastic bottles and shared posters of what they have learnt so far. Our Pre-Schoolers also wrote to The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to share their concerns about the environment. Prince Charles is a patron for environment change and so our children wanted to express to him the ways they have been trying to make a difference. We were very excited with the response we received, both Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were very impressed with the children’s efforts and praised them all for their hard work. Its so important to us to not only change our practise to be more green but to also inspire our children and help them learn their voice is powerful, afterall it will be them that continue the change.
Throughout the year we also hold several events for our children and families. These days such as the Open Day and Graduation are very big in our year and prior to us making changes to be more eco friendly, would have involved lots of disposable products and single use plastics. This year we have started to make our events more green, this has taken lots of research and some creativity but we are proud to say, have managed to hold both our Open Days and our Graduations this year using no single use plastics. These days are very important to us but we wanted to ensure that it was just the memory of the day that stayed with us and not the physical remains. Some of the changes were fairly simple, for example on our Graduations, changing our table cloths for resusable ones, using glasses and china instead of disposable tablewear. Others we did need to be more creative as we weren’t happy to compromise on the small details and quality that we were used to. Luckily we have some very talented staff that managed to create the most amazing decorations, centre pieces from bottles and a stunning flower arch, in place of our usual balloon arch that provided the most amazing backdrop for the children to graduate under. We also used decoupage numbers instead of balloons to represent the year.
With our Open Days we used it as an opportunity to educate our guests about what we have been doing and how they can make small changes that will make a huge difference. We gave out bamboo toothbrushes, made bird feeders, home made paint, just to name a few activities. We also had stalls from some local businesses that share our vision, including Always Plastic Free who we are huge supporters of came down to sell their products. We aim to find more ways to make our events more sustainable and to keep educating our community how they can make changes too.