When I talk about cloth diapers to people that aren’t currently using them, I often get questions about how it’s possible to use cloth if you don’t own a washer or dryer. I also have many people concerned about how much it costs to start cloth diapering – even after I tell them that they can save $1,300 by the time their child is 2 years old!
In light of this question and concern, I want to talk to you about the Flats and Handwashing Challenge. Last year my kiddos were still in diapers and I joined Kim Rosas of Dirty Diaper Laundry in using flat diapers and handwashing them for one straight week. I have a hard time expressing all that I learned from this challenge but I will try to summarize it here.
First of all – what is the Flats and Handwashing Challenge? For one week, limit yourself to using flat diapers or single layer fabric folded into a diaper along with covers to diaper your baby/babies. During this week “unplug” from your washer and dryer and turn up the elbow greese and wash those diapers by hand! While this may seem like a silly challenge to many at first glance, I assure you, it is not. Below, I will explain why.
This challenge, in combination with discussions with Heather McNamara of the Real Diaper Association, made me realize that most any absorbent material can be a diaper. If you think you have to spend money to join in this challenge, I challenge you to use only what you already have! Do you have receiving blankets? Do you have flour sack or single layer dish towels? Do you have some old tshirts? Cut them in half (at the side seam) and you have 2 diapers! Have any old sheets you aren’t using? Cut them into squares! All of these items make for great diapers.
Flat diapers (what my grandmother used) are the easiest diaper to wash because they are only one layer of fabric. They dry the quickest as well, making them perfect for this challenge. Flats can also be folded to accomodate for different wetzones, absorbencies, and body types which makes them a great choice for families with more than one child in diapers.
This challenge does more than teach you that you can upcycle items in your home into a diaper. It also teaches you emergency preparedness. What if we had no electricity? What if there were no gas and stores were shut down and you couldn’t buy disposables? What if you had a limited water supply? Did you have to make some diapering changes during the recent hurricanes on the east coast? Ever wondered how to travel with cloth? Ahem… flats baby!
I used flats confidently on our trip to Mexico last year after having practiced during the Flats Challenge. I washed those diapers in the hotel sink like a pro! They dried on our balcony in less than 12 hours. I also took flats on a camping trip! Give me a bucket, a faucet, some detergent, gloves and half of an old tupperware meat marinade container (the little pyramid bumps on the container made a great washboard) and I’m set!
And…. I was able to put a combination of two flats, a trifolded washcloth (in the wet zone) and a fleece liner together for a nighttime diaper that worked for both of my twins! SCORE!
So, back to the original question. Can you use cloth diapers if you don’t have a washer? Yes. You can hand wash your diapers, take them to a laundry mat twice a week or use a diaper service. It’s totally doable. As for how much it costs to get started, you can buy an inexpensive cover for less than $10. Buy 6 covers, some diaper closures like pins, Snappies, or Boingos and upcycle some materials I suggested above and you can diaper a baby full time for under $100. If you want to get fancier over time, go for it, but you have the basics and will never have to buy a disposable diaper again!
P.S. I had a good time doing the actual handwashing also. It was therapeutic in the same way that most physical labor is. I also plugged my earbuds into my Kindle and blazed through a book that week while washing away. It was me time.
If you are interested in joining the Flats and Handwashing Challenge it runs from May 20th-26th this year! I highly recommend it. Even if you don’t complete the challenge successfully the experience is an amazing educational foundation! Cheers to Kim for dreaming up such a great educational experience of a challenge!
Here are links to the posts I wrote while taking last year’s challenge!
This year’s Ventura County Great Cloth Diaper Change was great! I am very grateful to the many volunteers that helped set up, sew the upcycled t-shirt bags and help me run this year’s event! There were many giveaway prizes (more than half the participants got a prize as well as their goodie bag)! Families from all across our county (and a few from outside of our county) got to meet up, talk about cloth diapers and discover some wonderful community resources! Thank you to Horizon Hills Preschool for opening up your arms to Ventura County’s Real Diaper Circle and The Great Cloth Diaper Change! For the most updated information about this year’s world record attempt please see the official Great Cloth Diaper Change site HERE. Our location had 66 babies participate!
The Horizon Hills playgrounds were open for children to play on and vendors were open for business at GCDC this year. You could learn about cloth diapering at the Real Diaper Circle of Ventura County’s table grab a snack, or purchase a wide variety of products including cloth diapers, eco-friendly toys, baby carriers, and hand crafted clothing and toys. Later in the afternoon, we had a free Kindermusik class with Miss Mary which kids and babies of all ages enjoyed!
If you missed out on this year’s Great Cloth Diaper Change you might be interested in participating in the 3rd annual Flats Challenge, hosted by Kim at Dirty Diaper Laundry! I participated last year and was thrilled about what I learned from the experience! Also, knowing how to wash diapers by hand would come in very handy in case of a zombie apocalypse. I’m just sayin…..
I hope you had as much fun at GCDC as I did! Our photos were limited due to not having a professional photographer (accepting volunteers for next year now) so if you have photos from this event please email them to me and I will add them!
Please see our local Great Cloth Diaper Change site for a full list of sponsors and give them some love!
Have you heard about the Great Cloth Diaper Change? All around the world people are learning about how using simple, reusable, cloth diapers can make a BIG impact on a family’s finances, environmental waste and pollution, as well as the health of your baby. To help spread the word about the benefits of cloth diapering, an event called The Great Cloth Diaper Change was dreamed up and the Real Diaper Association turned this dream into a reality.
The Great Cloth Diaper Change is an annual event (in its third year) where parents and caregivers gather with their babies to change a diaper in an attempt to set a world record for the most cloth diapers changed in one day. You don’t even need to be a cloth diaper user to participate because most sites will let you borrow a cloth diaper for the event (and once you try it, you might find it’s easier than you think!)
All around the world local hosts set up a location for “the change”. Some locations will be intimate, smaller gatherings, and some events are so large that they need multiple venues to contain their hundreds of participants! Many locations, like my Ventura, CA location, take this opportunity to invite relevant people and businesses from their community to make this event a baby/parenting fair where parents can learn about businesses and services that will benefit them. All events focus on cloth diapering advocacy and education. We also collect donations for the Real Diaper Association so that they can continue in their efforts to advocate and support local advocates in cloth diapering. Last year there were 8,251 qualifying participants!
If you are a parent of a child in diapers, are expecting your first child or are a business that supports natural minded parenting, I encourage you to visit GreatClothDiaperChange.com and search their map to find a location near you! Your local host would love to have business sponsors and as many participants as possible!
Save the date on Saturday, April 20th, 2013 for the Great Cloth Diaper Change and meet your local cloth diapering resources and community. Talk to cloth diapering families and see how much money they have saved. Ask about laundry, leaks, poop and blowouts. I think you might be surprised at how doable it is to use cloth diapers. I cloth diapered twins! P.S. What’s a blowout? (Cloth diapering parents might not even know what a blowout is!)
Do you want to change your diet for the better but feel intimidated by all the work it is to eat healthy? I’d like to introduce you to Naturally Savvy and Unjunk Your Junk Food. Naturally Savvy is a blog written by Registered Holistic Nutritionists. This blog is a great resource for natural living, including holistic care, environment, nutrition and recipes. I highly recommend you check it out. These ladies have put together a great handbook to get you started on your journey to healthier eating and it’s called Unjunk Your Junk Food.
Unjunk Your Junk Food is a small CD sized book which gives you a basic nutrition 101. This book goes over food labels, basic nutrition, fats, grains, fiber, vitamins, minerals, natural vs. organic, GMOs, and the worst ingredients. One of my favorite parts of this book is the double sided “cheat sheet” of worst ingredients that you can cut/tear out of the book and keep in your purse or wallet to bring with you to the grocery store.
The bulk of Unjunk Your Junk Food compares common junk foods and drinks to a healthier alternatives with Naturally Savvy alerts and explanations about why you should choose the healthier option. If you find yourself undone by soda, candy, chips and cookies, check out Unjunk Your Junk Food for a way to curb your cravings while making progress toward a healthier diet!
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I received a free copy of Unjunk Your Junk Food for review.
In honor of Valentine’s Day I wanted to share the love I have for some great community resources and activists. These ladies are making a big change one step at a time for my local community. I know that sharing their passions and efforts will help inspire others in their efforts and may even inspire some of you to be a part of the change you want to see in the world! This post, by no means, covers all of the advocates and change makers in my community – but here are some. And if you want to give a shout out to someone you see making a difference in your community please leave a comment!
First up is Lupe, owner of Little Birdy Lane. I met Lupe through her support of my cloth diaper advocacy. She let me hold classes in her shop and was a sponsor of our local Great Cloth Diaper Change 2012. Lupe believes strongly in our community. She supports it by befriending and supporting many others in the community. Every time I turn around, someone mentions “my friend Lupe at Little Birdy Lane” and that speaks for itself. Little Bidy Lane is a child and maternity consignment store. Lupe has created a wonderful store where parents can recycle and reduce the environmental impact that comes with having a growing baby/child. She holds all kinds of classes, including potty training, baby wearing, and parenting skills. Much love to you Lupe!
Second, is another forward thinker. Michelle of The Refill Shoppe. Do you like to buy in bulk? If you are like me, you like to buy nontoxic and environmentally friendly household and self care products but don’t like the plastic packaging much of it comes in. Michelle created the Refill Shoppe to help all of us decrease our environmental impact. The Refill Shoppe is a place for you to either bring your own containers or buy beautiful reusable containers at the store to fill with a wide variety of household products. Has the word BRILLIANT echoed in your mind yet?!? Yeah. If you are local, I encourage you to head on down to E. Main St and check out her store. If you are not local, and are bummed that there isn’t a Refill Shoppe near you, call Michelle up and see if you can’t open your own Refill Shoppe chain location!
Third, I’d like to introduce you to Hannah of Adore Diaper Service (also a Great Cloth Diaper Change 2012 sponsor). Hannah owns and operates Adore Diaper Service located on South Laurel Street in Ventura. She is one of the first people I spoke to about teaching cloth diapering to the community. Because of Hannah suggesting I look into the Real Diaper Association, I learned about accredited cloth diaper circle leaders and became one myself! Hannah has made cloth diapering possible for those who want a healthier, more environmentally friendly diapering option but are intimidated or don’t want to wash diapers in their home. If you talk to Hannah, ask her what her current number of “diapers kept out of landfills” number is. She always amazes me with what a difference her business is making to our planet! P.S. A few months of cloth diaper service (which Hannah offers in gift certificates) is a WONDERFUL baby shower gift!!!
Fourth, is Nichole at The Luxe Baby (also a Great Cloth Diaper Change 2012 sponsor). Nichole opened the first store locally to carry cloth diapers (which sent me OVER THE MOON with joy) and many other non-toxic baby care items. She sells baby clothing, toys, teethers, detergent, cloth diapering safe creams, wool wash, amber teething necklaces, breastfeeding needs, oh the list goes on. It’s the first shop of it’s kind in our community (that I know of) that is really focusing on selling what a mom with knowledge about toxins would use for her baby. And that’s what you want right? A store that is looking to get you a product that is good for you and your baby vs. product that will make them the most money. Nichole has allowed me to host cloth diapering classes at her store before and it made for a wonderful location. She let me use the photo studio – did I mention she will take adorable pictures of your baby? – for our meeting and it was a great space.
There have also been some awesome strides in the breastfeeding and birthing circles in our community lately but I will need to do more research and get back to y’all about that.
Please note that this is not a sponsored post. I really do just LOVE these ladies for all they are doing to make our world a better place. XO and happy Valentine’s Day – Janice