Cloth Nappy Hiring Service in Barcelona

August 15, 2021 | Blog, My Story, Work Life

Cloth nappy hiring and cleaning service, pana, was founded by environmental impact entrepreneur Marie Mélinon based in Barcelona. She founded pana, to help families have a more sustainable lifestyle. Marie is also involved in the local Zero Waste community and offers conferences and practical workshops on sustainable lifestyle to groups and supports individuals who would like to incorporate sustainable habits in their daily life.

Interview with Marie Mélinon, Founder of pana


You have made a big career change fairly recently from translator to environmental impact entrepreneur. How did that come about?


I was in the translation industry for about 12 years, in different roles from translation to project manager and finally production team manager responsible for a team of 12 people. This was quite a stressful environment. Major IT clients were based all over the globe with tight schedules. It is a very competitive market which results in translation companies having to always offer more for cheaper. In June 2018, I realised I was actually suffering what is now called a burnout. This helped me reconnect with my personal values of safeguarding the planet and its ecosystems. This is when I decided to align my values with my professional occupation.

How did you make the decision to focus on families and a more sustainable lifestyle?


Before deciding to leave the translation industry, I got closer to the reality of a few families when some of my friends and my sister had babies. At the same time, I got to know about a new initiative where they were providing fresh cloth nappies and laundry service to families giving birth in a maternity ward in the North of France. I learnt disposable nappies make up to 1 ton of non-recyclable waste per baby until they are potty-trained. So when I made my career shift, I thought supporting families to switch to cloth nappies could be a great way to reduce general waste in Spain.


What preparation did you do before launching pana?


I went through different phases. 

First I started with an entrepreneur course offered by Barcelona Activa and given by Labcoop. This helped me move from the idea of “oh this would be great if it existed in Spain” to the one “I will do it myself”. It was the opportunity to perform a market study, question over 200 families, identify the buyer personas and the channels where I can connect with them, among many other activities.

Then, I was a semi-finalist in the European Union Social Innovation Competition which allowed me to further define the project, and get to know the European scene of Social Impact Entrepreneurship and extend my network.

I took part in a new acceleration program from Climate-KIC Benelux which allowed me to invest in more stock, get one-to-one mentoring and gave me more confidence.

The Covid-19 pandemic slowed down the collaboration work with kindergartens, so I decided to focus temporarily on direct customers. Now the situation is under control, the collaborations with kindergartens resumed and the service was launched in two kindergartens in January 2022.

You offer a cloth nappy hiring service to families all over Spain. Can you explain how that works?


That’s right! Families who want to try cloth nappies can hire a cloth nappy kit from pana. After a conversation, the kit is personalised based on the family and baby’s needs. It is delivered to the family together with a maintenance and best practices guide. If they are interested, we can also organise a call after they receive the package, so we can go over the nappies they received as well as the guide and they can ask all the additional questions they may have.

The service is a monthly subscription with no commitment. So whenever the family wants to stop it, they can return the nappies in the post and get their deposit back.


You are based in Barcelona, so you are able to offer a more comprehensive service there. What does that involve exactly?


For families based in Barcelona city, in addition to the hire kit, they can also pick the hire and cleaning service, whereby, 3 times a week, they get delivered fresh cloth nappies and hand over the soiled nappies used since the last delivery so pana can take care of the cleaning. Nappies are stored in a waterproof and odour-proof bag. Deliveries and pickups are done by bike to avoid any contamination during the transport. We are using ecologically certified detergents to clean them, so it is good for the environment and for baby’s skin.

The service is a weekly subscription with no commitment. So whenever the family wants to stop it, they can return all remaining nappies at the next pickup date and get their deposit back.

You recently resumed the service via kindergartens. Can you explain how the service works?


Pana helps kindergartens reduce waste and offers a healthier alternative to disposable nappies for kids. Families can sign up individually to the cloth nappy service in the kindergarten, including all nappies used during the day in the kindergarten, and reduce up to 185 kg of waste per kid and per school year. Pana takes care of delivering fresh cloth nappies and picking up soiled nappies every day of the week. And all this without any hassle for the kindergarten and the families!

You are also involved in your local zero waste community. What does that involve?


I have been a member of the Zero Waste Barcelona Network Association since August 2018. With the association, we organise conferences and workshops. Our biggest achievement so far has been organising the first Zero Waste Festival in Spain, promoting Zero Waste lifestyle as well as a more sustainable and fair way of consuming. I also manage the Zero Waste Barcelona Network Facebook page as well as the Zero Waste Barcelona Facebook group making sure the local community has access to quality information in a respectful and safe space.

I am also a climate activist through occasional participation in XR (Extinction Rebellion) and Friday for Future peaceful manifestations and actions. And I am a Climate Fresk facilitator (a collaborative card game bringing awareness on the scientific and systemic mechanisms of climate change, based on the IPCC reports).


Cloth Nappy Hiring Service in Barcelona

If anyone reading this has been thinking about making the move to cloth nappies but doesn’t know where to start, what would you say to encourage them?


Try before you buy!

It allows you to try different types and brands to identify the ones that work for your baby and your family lifestyle before investing in your own. You will also be able to see what they’re like and probably debunk a few myths and overcome some fears.

You can do this either by buying only one of each type you want to try (new or second hand), borrow from a friend, or hire a kit with a selection. 

Discuss with families that have used it around you and with professionals that will always be happy to answer your questions.

What advice would you give to families who want to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle?


You can follow the 5R principle. It helps us question our consumption habits and make more conscious choices.

  • Refuse: what we don’t need (i.e., plastic bags at the supermarket). 
  • Reduce: buy less and of better lasting quality, use less fossil fuel-based transportation, avoid packaging.
  • Repair: try and find ways or people that can help you repair what’s broken, buy second-hand, or borrow/rent.
  • Rot: use your organic waste to make compost and give it a second life or share it with your local garden community.
  • Recycle: if none of the above is possible, you can separate your waste so they can be given a chance to be recycled and reused as a prime material again.


And also, something I recently did: Calculate your carbon footprint to identify where your habits generate the most CO2 emissions, so you can target them better and reduce your impact on the planet.

And include your children in the process. They’re usually a great motor for changes at home thanks to their energy and sensitivity!

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