Rash reuse of disposables creamed by nationwide challenge [Family and parenting]

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While struggling families continue to toss hard-earned money at what's destined to be garbage, Rosas' Flats Challenge has become a call to action, as most hardworking families don't have idle hours to spend online researching good diaper options. "The people who need cloth diapers the most are the least likely to have access to information about them. We need real people on the ground showing people that cloth diapers aren't niche; they aren't for hippies or only for the rich. There is no mold for cloth diapers. Every baby needs a diaper. Why can't it be reusable?"

Sustainability may be in vogue, but cloth isn't just for the rich. "Growing up we were 'green' because we were poor," Rosas admitted. "Now it seems to be the opposite." In an ironic turn, thirty years after the birth of disposable diapers the richer have gone from consuming what they could afford to throw away to investing in reusables. Likewise, in the 1980s, the poor continued to cloth diaper, and in reaction to a sort of social demotion–or a brilliant marketing opus–parents grew to sacrifice the family budget for disposables to keep up with elevated social expectations.

"I see potential for a partnership with many assistance agencies around the country that will introduce cloth diapers as a way to help low income families make the most of their money while keeping their babies safe and dry," Rosas said.

"More than anything, I hope this challenge has put flats back on the table as not just an emergency, desperate option. I'm still using them 95% of the time because they have kept my son rash-free more than my modern diapers, and they've had no leaks. If I choose them over the 'fancy' diapers, there has to be something to that."

Recently, Walker has shifted the focus of Fannies to free diapering workshops and in-person sales by appointment, "because education and awareness-raising is really where my passion lies …but I haven't quite figured out how to reach the lower-income families who need cloth diapering the most."

Giving Diapers, Giving Hope of Gloucester, Massachusetts is a free non-profit cloth diaper lending service that provides diapering education and support for families in need of diaper materials anywhere in the contiguous United States. Its main focus is simply "…to alleviate diapering costs for low income families…" through donations of new and used cloth diapers, as well as disposables.

Walker and Rosas have another thing in common besides reusable diaper advocacy. Walker told me, "I can't sell what I wouldn't pay for myself, so I operate on a teach a wo/man to fish philosophy now." Rosas' mantra, "Buy a package of disposables, diaper a baby for a week. Buy a stash of cloth diapers, diaper a baby for a lifetime."

Having the courage to make do and reuse takes social support, education, a good stash of reusables and dash of hard work. Unlike just a few years ago, thanks in part to a depressed economy, support and knowledge of cloth options abound.

To learn more about the Flats Challenge, and view its instructional videos visit DirtyDiaperLaundry.com. If you're interested in cloth diapering supplies right here in Louisville visit FanniesDiaperService.com, or get information from Stacie Walker at the next free workshop at Babyology. Families in need of diaper assistance can contact Giving Diapers, Giving Hope via email at applications@givingdiapersgivinghope.org.

Photo: Rachel Hurd Anger

Contact the writer at rachel@hurdanger.com, or visit her website.

About Rachel Hurd Anger
Rachel is a freelance writer who enjoys running in our metro parks, drinking local beer, and raising suburban chickens. Most recently she has contributed to a special edition of Chickens magazine.
More articles from Rachel Hurd Anger
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