NEWS: Nursery staff 'back plastic ban'

A third of staff at day nurseries would support a total ban on plastic children's toys, according to a new study.

The research by daynurseries.co.uk also found the number who want their nursery to ban glitter has risen from 22 per cent in 2018 to 38 per cent in 2019.

Across the country a number of nurseries have already gone plastic free.

A few months ago New World Nursery in Tyne and Wear swapped plastic toys with wooden alternatives or recycled resources.

Manager Emily Padgett believes natural toys help children’s creativity, saying: "Children are not missing any of the plastic toys'.

Jungle Monkeys Nursery in Ilford, Essex, went plastic-free back in September with its manager Heleanna Phair giving the nursery’s collection of toys away to parents.

At the time she said: "What is really surprising is that the children are not missing any of the plastic toys.

"The children are so much happier. I think it is easy to put plastic toys in front of children and not really engage with the learning opportunities.

"Now the resources are more natural, the children are more inquisitive and love to spark up more conversations with the staff, therefore the learning has increased. The children are just so eager to become involved and explore all of the loose parts that are there and want to find out a lot more about it.”

Some people believe wooden toys can be expensive and not very durable, according to the research by daynurseries.co.uk.

Sarah Woolley, manager of Brook Cottage Childcare in Stoke on Trent, said: “We've been trying to use more wooden toys but the problem we've found is that the life span is so short!

"It would cost a fortune to maintain over time, and they're so much more expensive.

"We are only a small setting and have been really struggling due to funding being so low and the constant wage increases.

"We avoid using glitter as the eco-friendly equivalent is too expensive. We have strong views on using disposable plastics and as much as possible have stopped using gloves and wipes."

Nursery practitioner Luisa Isabel believes: “There's a time and place for plastic toys such as Lego etc. I have a mix of toys and will continue especially outside as plastic is more weatherproof”.

In 2018, the owner of Tops Days Nurseries banned glitter from all her nurseries, due to concerns over the effects of microplastics on marine life.

Cheryl Hadland, managing director of Tops Day Nurseries in the south of England, said: “It’s great to see that nearly twice as many nursery colleagues are wanting to ban glitter due to its negative impact on the environment, but obviously I would like to see at least 80 per cent banning glitter.

“Perhaps 100 per cent is unrealistic as there are going to be some settings that still don’t care about plastic pollution.

"Climate change is even more of a threat to our children than plastic pollution, and there are a whole range of measures that early years educators can put in place to help.

"Every single person and setting that makes changes is valuable because we influence so many others as well, from friends and family to colleagues and parents, no action is too small.”

Ms Hadland is not an advocate of totally banning plastic toys, adding: “These resources will last virtually forever and are great resources to play and learn with. So, if you really don’t want any plastic at all, at least give them away to others who do want them.

“The most important thing to do is not throw stuff in the waste bin, or even the recycling bin, as both could end up in landfill either here or in Asia somewhere.

"Plastic is an amazing material, but certainly we buy very little now, preferring to buy or acquire more open-ended resources that stretch children’s imagination, or secondhand items from charity shops and similar, rather than buying new plastic toys with only one function.”

A spokesperson for

daynurseries.co.uk

said: “It is very encouraging to see more and more nursery staff taking this environmental stance.

"After all they are crucial role models and play a vital role in educating children at a time when they are very impressionable.

“It is the children who will inherit this planet, so it is good these messages are being passed on at an early age. Of course, glitter is fun, but children are not missing out if they don’t have glitter.

“Banning plastic toys is more complex as some nurseries say they can’t afford to replace them with wooden toys which are more expensive and are not so durable.

"And what do you do about toys such as Lego which are good for developing fine motor skills and improving spatial awareness?”

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