The Nappy Collective making a difference

Ever wondered what to do with your kids' old nappies? Wonder no more. Zoe Arnold meets a woman who has turned old nappies into a charity initiative.
The Nappy Collective founder Sandra Jacobs and Lisa Simon.

Ever wondered what to do with your kids’ old nappies? Wonder no more. Zoe Arnold meets a woman who has turned old nappies into a charity initiative.

Babies grow fast. And in their wake, there are always a bunch of unused nappies. You find one in the door of your car, another stack at your parent’s house – a few left over in your nappy bag.

It seems a waste to throw them out, but there’s not a lot that can be done with a handful of nappies … until now.

Enter Sandra Jacobs. A financial advisor and mother to Lyla, nearly 3, Sandra hated to see her daughter’s outgrown nappies go to waste.

“The idea formed organically really,” Sandra says. “I kept finding little piles of nappies stashed away, and thought, ‘I wonder if other Mums have old nappies too?’

“At the same time, I was doing some volunteer work for a women’s crisis centre – and I kept meeting women who had left horrible, violent situations with literally nothing but their kids and their clothes on their backs.

“I wanted to make one aspect of their transition to a safe life easier, and remove one short term challenge – finding nappies.”

Sandra threw together a logo and a website in a matter of weeks and in October last year held her first collection drive for the Nappy Collective.

“All of us working on the initiative are volunteers, a group of Mums with toddlers who don’t need nappies anymore,” she says. “We are a collective: a community coming together to help those in need.”

The Nappy Collective holds three two-week “nappy drives” a year, where businesses in Sydney and Melbourne can volunteer to be a drop point for those wanting to donate their superfluous nappies.

“While a handful of nappies doesn’t seem like much – the average baby needs 10-12 a day – when hundreds of people donate, we have thousands to give to babies in need,” Sandra says.

“We take all types: from newborn nappies to pull-ups for older children. We take swimming nappies, which are given to programs that help disadvantaged Mums take their babies to swimming classes.

“While one day we hope to be Australia-wide, right now we are only in two states, but people can still post their extra nappies to our PO Box.

“The only type we don’t accept are cloth nappies – for the simple reason that women who are starting their lives again often don’t have access to laundry facilities.”

During their very first nappy drive, The Nappy Collective gathered an impressive 1500 nappies, which were all donated to McAuley House, a women’s crisis centre in Melbourne.

“We hope 2014 will see us collect many thousands of nappies, which will be distributed nine different organisations in NSW and Victoria,” Sandra adds.

From humble beginnings the Nappy Collective is rapidly growing, and is in the process of being registered as a not-for-profit. Last week Sandra’s innovation was recognised in the form of a $10,000 grant from the Foundation for Young Australians.

“It was humbling, really,” Sandra admits, “I was really chuffed.

“There’s a saying – love what you do and do what you love – and that’s what I feel like I’m doing – it’s great to know you’re making a difference.”

The Nappy Collective is collecting nappies between February 17th and March 2nd in Sydney and Melbourne. To find out more, visit

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