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Changing the world: one nappy at a time

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One of the people that the Earthwise team loves to support is Kate ‘The Nappy Lady’ Meads.  She has been known by this moniker for the last eight years and when asked how it all started, she replied simply:  “I had a baby.”

She was looking for a cloth nappy for her own son, Daniel, and found that New Zealand did not have much to offer so she had to look to companies in Australia and Canada for supplies.  Kate then set out to fill this gap in the market by setting up a cloth nappy-importing business with a friend, which she took on single-handedly when her friend had a second baby.  As more brands came into the New Zealand market over the next couple of years, Kate noticed consumer confusion grow, so she started to deliver cloth nappy education workshops to help out.

In a nutshell, that’s how Kate started on a ten year journey championing the cause of cloth nappies as a sustainable alternative to the disposable variety.  She pioneered New Zealand Cloth Nappy Week – which turned into Cloth Nappy fortnight three years ago when she threw in a nationwide Nappy Hunt one Easter and the idea caught on.

“It was constant madness,” said Kate laughing.  “We started to take pictures of hidden cloth nappies at signposts on our way around the country delivering workshops.  When we posted images on Facebook as clues, we got thousands of people watching out for them.  People began to actually follow us in their cars.”

This year’s Nappy Hunt will give away 750 cloth nappies worth around $20,000 – all to raise awareness of the advantages, to the planet and your pocket, of choosing cloth versus disposable products.  For the past two years Kate has put all her energies into parent education and has sold her nappy business so that she can give completely impartial advice.  In fact, her workshops now cover way more than just nappies.  She has branched out into waste-free parenting and focuses on subjects like how to recycle properly and new alternatives to conventional disposable products.

Supported by grants from 30 councils, Kate now facilitates more than 100 workshops around New Zealand every year, speaking to groups of around 35 to 50 people at each event.  Earthwise also support these workshops by providing product giveaways and prize contributions.

“I always recommend sustainable products,” said Kate.  “I’ve been using the Earthwise range myself for a couple of years and really like their fragrance-free products because I’m a hay-fever sufferer.  I love the gentle nature of their baby and child products – they don’t dry out sensitive skin.”

When asked where to next, Kate laughs:  “That’s a good question!  I’d like to provide the same programme in Australia and the UK by training other people to facilitate workshops.  It would be great to get other people involved – and just see where this goes.”

To find out more about Kate’s Waste Free Parenting workshops click here.


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