What goes around, comes around

Childcare providers supporting the circular economy

At Flexible Childcare Services Scotland we are very mindful about the environment and the impacts that our actions can have on both a micro and macro level.

Within our settings we are very conscious about the resources we buy and how they will be used by the children we support.

In recent years we have adopted an approach developed by our friends at the Curiosity Approach – using calm and natural play spaces and loose parts to create a rich learning environment where children harness their imagination to create their own learning experiences.

The concept of loose-parts play was developed by Simon Nicholson in the 1970’s where he said that materials which can be moved around, designed and re-designed, create infinitely more opportunities for creative play than static, predesigned materials and toys.

Loose parts encompass a range of ‘open-ended’ materials such as boxes, crates, pipes, poles, sticks, rocks, logs that children can adapt, move, design and transform in many different ways. With loose parts play the only limitations are the children’s imaginations and therefore there are very few limitations!

Loose parts can be found in the natural environment but can also be utilised from left over or ‘junk’ materials – think old tyres, fabric, cushions or even left over construction materials – PVP pipe, timber, pallets and crates.

Where many of these items would normally be ‘dumped’, childcare settings can utilise them to create an untapped range of play resources. In this way, the childcare sector is playing an important part in the circular economy where we are reusing, repairing and reimagining existing materials, giving them a new lease of life. In this way, the life-cycle of products are extended and they stay out of landfill for much longer – without the need of buying new ‘static’ materials which don’t have the same play potential.

Another initiative we have trialled are clothes swaps, most recently our Winter Coat Swap.

Swapping second hand items is ultimately the most sustainable way to shop because you’re giving pre-loved items a new lease of life. This prevents garments from going to waste and joining the 300,000 annual tonnes of clothing that finds its way to a UK landfill each year. More than that perhaps is that your child’s old coat could go to a child with no coat at all, so as well as reducing waste, you’re also supporting other families in need.

It’s through this mutual support that we will affect even greater change – helping to not only cement the circular economy within our childcare settings but also the desire to support each other and our wider communities. After all, what goes around comes around and we all want that to be good.