Early Years Eco Wheel™ Scheme Launches 

20th February 2020

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A collaboration of nursery owners near Bristol launched a ‘Take Action’ toolkit to help Early Years settings journey successfully towards environmental sustainability.

Inspired by the call to arms by public figures such as Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough, the group recognised that the time for us all to act is now.

With such a lot of greenwash causing confusion over what individuals should do, the team decided they needed to structure their actions and have a clear way of measuring their success. They decided that transitioning to a sustainable business approach should not be based on doom and gloom, but should be a positive process with structure and successes.

Nicky Edwards one of the creators of the not-for-profit scheme states “we need to not panic about the climate emergency, but rapidly shift to ‘Emergency Mode’1  We need to take ACTION, as a sector, and to do that we need a clear framework for success”

She continues, “as part of an NDNA Network for Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire, we recognised that settings need help, they need a pathway to be successful in the changes required to become more sustainable. The Eco Wheel™ Scheme maps out what to do and gives clear support. The idea is to build a ‘community’ so that experiences can be shared, and support given when change is difficult. There are some challenging topics that mean changes in our way of thinking, such as the food we eat and the volume of things we buy. With unsustainable consumption being the root cause of the Climate Emergency, in order to prevent climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, we need to rethink our approaches. Simple things like the 8Rs (which is an extension to the Reuse, Reduce and Recycle) can serve as a guide to our daily approach, and are essential concepts to get to grips with.

Saffia Bullock who owns three nurseries in the Bristol area and has been trialling the Eco Wheel™ Scheme in her nurseries said: “Using the Eco Wheel™ has been a really useful tool for starting discussions with staff. It’s helping us all to think about all aspects of running the nursery differently and bringing the sustainability issues to the front of our minds when making decisions.”

Central to the Eco Wheel™ is the idea of ‘spreading the message’ through educating children, employees, parents and others within the community. This is something that Julia of The Rocking Horse day nursery talks about in reflection of her trial of the Eco Wheel™ Scheme in her nursery: “At The Rocking Horse, we have discussed the Climate emergency and feel as a team we have a responsibility to educate our children. We find the Eco Wheel™ easy to use and set manageable targets, which often involve the children e.g making the bug hotel, composting and growing vegetables and recycling. Our next step is to introduce the Eco Wheel™ to parents as many have shown an interest in the DIY wet wipes which we use. As a team we feel good about the difference we are making, however small, and the Eco Wheel™ Scheme gives us the tools and motivation to do more.”

Launching the scheme at the first ever GECCO Early Years Eco-Sustainability Conference hosted in London and organised by Cheryl Hadland, the benefits of the scheme were clear to attendees. The presentation given by Nicky Edwards mapped out the benefits of the scheme.

  • A clear pathway to make a successful eco-journey
  • Support from an Early Years Community who have provided examples and templates
  • A knowledge hub surrounding all areas of action; Buildings incl Energy, Food, Single use plastics including nappies, Janitorial and Personal Care, Play resources and Equipment, Money, Transport and trips, Nurturing Nature.

Visit www.EcoWheel.org for more information and to sign up to the scheme.

Eco Wheel™ will be Exhibiting at Childcare & Education Expo London on the 20th & 21st March, they will be on stand D60 and are Exhibiting under Eco Focus!

1 See https://www.theclimatemobilization.org/emergency-mode for more information about Emergency Mode – by Margaret Salamon

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