Nursery World Awards 2020 - Eco-Friendly Early Years

Friday, February 5, 2021

Enya’s Childcare, Peterborough

As a Green Flag certified Eco School, Enya’s Childcare puts sustainability at the heart of its work with children. The aim is not to frighten or confuse children with information, but to use approaches such as Forest School to help them learn first-hand about the natural world.

Children engage in activities such as making homes for wildlife and planting trees during three ‘Wilderness Pathway’ sessions a week all year round in the setting’s dedicated woodland.

Involving them in initiatives including the Great Big School Clean, Keep Britain Tidy and Plastic-Free July helps them learn about littering and the dangers of single-use plastic. Each week, the nursery’s Eco-Committee removes plastic from the setting’s online food delivery and gives it back to the supermarket delivery driver.

As part of the marine topic, the Eco-Committee also decided to ban the use of glitter and plastic straws.

Children learn about alternatives to plastic household goods, such as toothbrushes, shampoo bottles, straws and cutlery, reinforced at home with activities including a ‘plastic-free lunchbox’ challenge.

They also learn about the bigger picture in terms of climate change. Activities about the Australian wildfires and the impact a warmer, drier climate is having on the people, animals and plants that live there led to the children asking to help.

As a team, they prepared banners for a march, made postcards and baked cakes to raise AUS$200 for the family-run Dimmocks Retreat in New South Wales to help care for the animals affected by the fires.

Its Eco Schools England inspector commended the setting’s connections with external companies such as Terracycle, as well as the fact only eco-friendly cleaning products are used.

All of the setting’s computers are signed up to the Ecosia search engine, which runs on renewable energy. It also acts as a collection point for empty crisp packets to be recycled, saving 5,304 crisp packets so far from landfill or oceans, and for baby food pouches and packaging too.


Tops Day Nurseries

Tops Day Nurseries gained global attention for its decision to ban the use of glitter in all its nurseries. Staff have now stopped buying plastic baby wipes and make their own instead, while glass milk bottles and bamboo toothbrushes are used across all settings, alongside electric vehicles for staff.

All nurseries have received or are working towards an Eco Schools Award and Tops Havant was the first nursery in the UK to receive a Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Schools title.

Managing director Cheryl Hadland has recently published Creating an Eco-Friendly Early Years Setting and formed the Green Early Years Choices Champions Organisation (GECCO) charity to share good practice across the sector.


Young Friends Nature Nursery

The setting’s urban woodland is full of native species to feed and provides essential habitats for insects, mammals and birds. Children also learn about the requirements of indoor plants, notice when garden flowers appear and know which insects like each plant.

Daily child-initiated play encourages children to consider and readily take on sustainable responsibilities. Children remind one another to recycle, compost and take care around areas where animals and insects live.

Families report greater responsibility as they take greater care of their home environments and ask them to pick up litter.


Honey Pot Nursery Group


Open to early years settings and services that are developing an eco-friendly approach in all aspects of their work, from management, resourcing and design, to educating young children about sustainable development


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