Touching Upon Cloth Diapering and Diaper Drives

As many of you read last month, I am working as a blogger ambassador for the Huggies® Every Little Bottom Program in 2011. Well, I’m baaaaaack with some information that I find to be very pertinent. While gearing up to work with the program, the very first thing that came to my mind in regards to diaper donations was, “Why not cloth diapers?” You know me, little Miss Earth Day Organic over here…I mean, cloth diapering seems to be a good solution, so I wasn’t surprised at all when your comments on my last post were essentially asking the same question. (Great minds, people!!)

I’d love to address this situation from a personal standpoint first. For me, I tend to judge situations from my own lifestyle’s perspective, and sometimes it’s difficult for me to imagine life in someone else’s shoes. Although I have a washer and dryer, many do not. Although I have a roof over my head, many do not. Although I have someone who helps watch my children a couple of days during the week at my home, many rely on daycares that require a stack of disposable diapers to accompany their children every morning. These scenarios aren’t really conducive to using cloth diapers, and remember, most diaper banks are accepting donations for people whose lives are affected by one or all of these scenarios.

I have to give kudos to Calee, who left this comment on my previous post and really hit the nail on the head. (By the way, Calee’s husband is a local director for an organization that provides food and services to homeless families living in Orange County, so this is a subject that she witnesses firsthand.)

Cloth diapers are substantially less expensive in the long haul, but for many living in poverty, it’s nearly impossible to buy a large or mega pack of disposable diapers (thus reducing the per diaper cost) much less shell out $5-20 for 1 cloth diaper. Also, there is a time and laundry cost– if you live in a home or apartment with a washing machine, cloth diapers are an extra task, but not a huge deal. If you are working 2 jobs and still living below the poverty line in a weekly motel, it simply isn’t feasible. Forget about it if all your possessions are in a duffel bag and you’re bouncing between shelters every night. It would be fantastic to help people move into cloth diapering, unfortunately, like so many issues those living below the poverty line face, this one isn’t easily solved.

I definitely had an “ahhh, I GET IT” moment after reading that. Thanks, Calee, for your great insight.

So, let’s briefly try to answer some of these questions.

Aren’t cloth diapers a better solution for mothers because they can just wash and reuse?

  • For many mothers struggling with diaper need, cloth diapers aren’t a realistic option: many daycare facilities will not admit children without a day’s supply of clean disposable diapers – cloth diapers are often not accepted.
  • Many Laundromat facilities will not allow mothers to wash diapers for sanitary reasons.

Aren’t cloth diapers a more environmentally-friendly solution?

  • There are many variables that exist in this situation – one example is that if cloth diapers are washed in hot/warm water and then dried, this could have a carbon footprint similar to a disposable diaper. Diapers are an essential need for babies, so Kimberly-Clark works hard to ensure waste is eliminated wherever possible throughout the products’ lifecycle – from sourcing to disposal in an effort to reduce Huggies diapers’ impact on the environment. (By the way, you can read more about Kimberly-Clark’s sustainability efforts here.)

I’m pretty sure this is one of those subjects that we all could go round and round and ROUND, but the one thing that I always come back to is that the Huggies® Every Little Bottom Program is working to meet the needs of families with diaper need NOW. And that is super cool, my friends.

Remember, here are some ways YOU can help meet the needs of these families right now. Learn more about how you can become involved in your community at EveryLittleBottom.com. Find out where you can donate diapers locally, attend a diaper drive event or even host your own diaper drive.

Disclosure: I have partnered with the Huggies® brand to help promote Huggies® Every Little Bottom program.  I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program, which includes writing about my family’s own experiences from my son/daughter’s point of view, and/or their experiences with diapers.  However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

  1. steph

    June 15, 2011 at 10:55 am

    “For me, I tend to judge situations from my own lifestyle’s perspective, and sometimes it’s difficult for me to imagine life in someone else’s shoes.”

    Thanks for that sentence.

  2. Tess

    June 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    This was fantastic. I’m in the medical field, and I see this happening all the time, especially regarding parenting. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of it a time or two myself.

    Stepping back and trying to get some perspective is never a bad thing. Kudos to you.

  3. whoorl

    June 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Thank you, ladies! Sometimes it’s so easy to assume one way is the right way, but in reality, everybody’s situations are different.

  4. Hannahz

    June 16, 2011 at 10:50 am

    I never tried cloth diapers with my kiddos (both long past diapering age) but I always assumed disposable diapers would probably keep a baby drier than cloth. Any mother knows she would do almost anything to help her babies sleep more!

  5. am'ti b

    June 16, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    just throwing out a great idea about diaper drives-we went to a birthday party this past week and brought baby essentials for the okc infant crisis services instead of presents. i know this is not a new idea but a great way to get our little ones involved in philanthropy.

  6. whoorl

    June 16, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    You rock, Brie! :)

  7. JKB

    June 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Definitely not debating that this program is a good thing! Not everyone can cloth. (I am one of the fortunate ones who can. I do however give in the form of disposables to diaper drives, because I get that I am fortunate).

    It’s best to keep in mind though that Kimberly-Clark also wants to sell their disposable diapers, so taking their word on the “cloth and disposables have roughly the same footprint” is annoying. NO cloth is not useable by every person, but to say that the environmental impact is close to or the same so it doesn’t matter? That’s doesn’t make sense and should not be part of the argument for this program that actually does good things. Sometimes being “greener” should not be used as a reason to be kind and give. I worked in a battered women’s shelter for several years and quite frankly these families used everything they had (even if it was little) until it was not useable anymore because they had to. They couldn’t be a part of the consumption cycle of buying buying buying regardless of actual need. I think in many cases the poor are the most sustainable among us.

    I guess what I am saying is you have so many incredibly valid points about why giving disposables (in this case huggies) instead of cloth is a good idea, but you make me question your super valid statements when you throw in the “green” wrench. I was nodding in agreement until I got to the last part, my disposable using friends were too.
    (Also, I realize that you were probably answering one of the comments from the first post, but again…it doesn’t have to be about that.)

  8. Amy in StL

    June 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Years ago I read that you should look at environmental issues relative to your environment. In other words, if you live where water shortages are common,disposable might be for you. If you live where landfill space is at a premium, cloth might be for you.

    The same goes for a lot of issues. I used to take reusable plastic dishes when we camped, but then it was pointed out that we not only burned more fuel that way, those dishes were not as likely to hold up long term and be safe AND they’re made of non-renewable resources. So now, we use paper and burn them when to start the next morning’s fire.

  9. whoorl

    June 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    You make some very valid points, JKB! Like I said, we could go round and round and round on some of these points, but my purpose with this post was to answer any and all questions I received regarding cloth diapers in regards to the program.

    The whole “green” thing is very tricky, I agree wholeheartedly! I’m sure both sides of the camp would gladly go back and forth, but I just hope, like you said, that we can all stay focused on the good that this program is doing going forward. The last thing I want to do is take focus away from the program, but I felt it was necessary to include Kimberly-Clark’s sustainability practices since I was specifically emailed that question.

  10. whoorl

    June 17, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Great point, Amy!

  11. zhnjg

    June 29, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    I live in a developing country and people don’t use diapers period. The kids wear split pants. On the plus side, they are potty trained far earlier. On the down side, I get to watch kids pop a squat in the middle of the side walk on a regular basis. There’s a reason why we treat the ground like it’s contaminated with nuclear fallout…you couldn’t pay me to wear my street shoes into my apartment. Anyway, how’s that for social choices: let kids go au naturel.