Imagine a community where a majority of families use cloth diapers. This isn’t a virtual community, but your actual neighborhood. How did they all choose cloth diapers?
The Samsons got a flyer about an incentive program for purchasing cloth diapers from their city council. The Nguyens read about the same incentive program in the local paper but used it to subsidize a diaper service. Meanwhile, the Hailes got some cloth diapers from the local refugee support group and the Delmonicos got a certificate from a local food bank. All are participating in their local Real Diaper Circle, where they receive support and help spread cloth diapering to other families. The Jacksons saw these Real Diaper babies in the park and joined the group to find out more.
So began a session I presented at the Real Diaper Industry Association meetings in Louisville a couple of weeks ago. I followed this vision with two REAL stories about volunteers working to make these very things happen in their communities.
Rachel Aube told her story about initiating a cloth diaper subsidy in Victoria, BC. Their petition (which has thousands of signatures so far, but is still in the gathering stages) reads, in part:
“We would like to have a subsidy in place for CRD families that are lowering their environmental impact by choosing cloth, thus reducing gross municipal tonnage and keeping single use products out of our landfills… we would like to support our local cloth retailers and small businesses by adding the stipulation that a subsidy would only be eligible if the diapers are purchased within the CRD. Therefore, your petitioners request that the CRD develop a subsidy plan for the use of cloth diapers, and reduce waste in our local landfills while supporting local small businesses.”
Megan Fernsler told her story about starting a cloth diaper program within a local social service agency. The program includes the following components:
- Get diapers – agency has procured a grant for diapers for low-income families (and they’ve gotten many donations for inserts from Diaper Kind). Megan advised the agency on what to buy.
- Indentify recipients – agency surveyed existing qualified low-income clients about their interest in cloth diapers and access to washing facilities, then invite them to a free cloth diaper introduction class to find out about them.
- Diaper distribution – Interested clients apply for diaper kits and are matched with a set for their baby’s size.
- Cloth diaper support – Clients are referred to their local Real Diaper Circle, led by Megan, for ongoing support from other families using cloth diapers.
Rachel and Megan aren’t alone. There are others working on similar initiatives in their communities. The Real Diaper Association is facilitating their efforts through a new Facebook page, the Diaper Aid Hub. The Diaper Aid Hub aims to support people who are helping low-income families find and use reusable cloth diapers via education, direct aid from social service organizations, and/or municipal government subsidies. If you are interested in participating in any of this work, please join the conversation there.
Executive Director, Real Diaper Association