The Great Divide of Cloth Diapering

A fellow blogger (Pamela from Daytontime) emailed me a link to a blog post announcing a new campaign from Huggies that utilizes “mom bloggers” as brand ambassadors for a new diaper drive.  The Drive is called “Every Little Bottom” and aims to donate 20 million diapers to diaper banks over the next 8 months.

Yes, you read that right, 20 million. And the sad fact is: that is a drop in the bucket of the worldwide consumption of disposables.

But I am not writing about the diaper drive.  There are families who truly need diapers, and food, and other things that these big companies can provide.  Do I wish these families were using cloth diapers?  Absolutely.  Is it possible for them all?  Not really. Without access to laundry facilities it is difficult to use cloth diapers.

This is what Elita of Blacktating commented on that post:

I just don’t see any way around using disposables for low income moms. Instead of pointing the fingers at poor women who don’t have many options, why don’t we ask why parents of means aren’t using them?

The first part of the comment I slightly disagree with.  Even some low income families have washers and dryers.  Many do not.  And coin laundry can become costly, transportation to the facilities hard to come by, etc.  I get it.  I want to cloth diaper the world but I have to be realistic. And the blanket statement that cloth diapers save money so we should provide those, which will last for one or more children, doesn’t always apply.  In theory cloth diapers are the best option because they last, they work for many sizes in most cases, and the families would never need to buy diapers again.  But without access to proper facilities to wash them how useful are they? Not everyone wants to hand wash diapers (I personally do not, thank goodness for my own washer) or has the time.

The second part of her comment did resonate with me.  Even though cloth diapers are the economical choice, there is no reason the upper and middle class shouldn’t or couldn’t use them.  Just because a family has “disposable income” that doesn’t mean they should literally be buying diapers that are meant to be disposed of. Families with means have access to any cloth diaper they want and washers/ dryers.  Some even have enough to hire someone to wash their diapers for them!  Why wouldn’t you use cloth diapers if you didn’t even need to wash them yourself?

Shouln’t we be focusing more on converting those who can afford either option more than pushing cloth diapers on families who hardly have the means to wash them?

Once again, before you think I am pro disposables, I am speaking of families in the modern world who just don’t have the time to hand wash diapers, or transport their own laundry and cloth diapers to a laundromat.  I still hate the thought of all of these diapers going to a landfill, but if more families who could buy a stash without blinking did so, that is better than nothing.  I know many in the cloth community see things in black and white.  There is a grey area too that should be acknowledged.

This is why I hope Operation Fluffy succeeds.  Widespread media attention is needed to make cloth diapers visible.  The Green movement is being followed by plenty of upper and middle class families.  They pay extra for organic food, natural cleaners, sustainable clothing, hybrid cars, and solar panels for their homes.  But somehow they still use disposables!  They just don’t know there are modern cloth diapers!

And for families in need who do have laundry access, cloth diapers should be the answer. This is why The Cloth Diaper Foundation helps families get started who cannot afford to buy their own cloth diapers.  There is no easy answer to the diaper dilemma faced by needy families, but both ends are trying to meet the need.

Image Credit: Jonathan Harford via Flickr
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