Thursday, May 3, 2012

Flats and Handwash Challenge!

Before I explain the title I want to state that we use cloth diapers for B and we plan on doing so for any future children. My husband's favorite reason for cloth diapering is that it saves us money. It's a one time, upfront cost, and we never have to buy diapers again. My favorite reason is because it saves landfill space. Other reasons families cloth diaper are to avoid rashes caused by the chemicals in disposable diapers, and because cloth diapers can be very cute.

Now, having just revealed that I don't have enough time/energy in the week for all the stuff I have already chosen to do, I am still going to announce that I will be participating in the Flats and Handwash Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry! This challenge runs from May 21 to May 27. One week. Using only flat diapers. Handwashing them the whole time.

 Yuck? Maybe.
But better than reusing disposables!

This is the second annual Flats and Handwash Challenge. Last year the event was inspired by numerous articles which brought to light the fact that families who had to choose between diapers and food, were desperately trying to extend the life of their disposable diapers. In some cases families were allowing their children to sit in dirty diapers for many hours at a time (4 . . . 5 . . . 6 . . . or longer). And in other cases families were attempting to clean out or blow dry their disposables to be reused a second time. None of this is good for children! And, currently, there are no government programs to help families who need diapers.

Are cloth diapers the natural solution? I have often asked myself if I would continue to cloth diaper if I had to go to a laundry mat to clean them. My stubbornly idealistic self says "yes!", but in reality I am not so sure. We made a special effort to find an apartment with a washer and dryer, but this isn't always an option. In addition, Kim Rosas of Dirty Diaper Laundry points out in her 2011 Flats challenge post, that the start up cost of cloth diapering is mostly likely way too high for families who are already struggling.

 For both of these reasons, flats and handwashing may be the answer. Flat diapers are the original cloth diaper. They are relatively inexpensive; $1-$7 each, whereas more elaborate diaper systems are in the $10-$25 each range. Flats consist of one layer of cotton fabric. They are large rectangles which can be folded to fit any child. This means they will fit one child from birth to potty training, or two different sized siblings at the same time. Their thinness means they can easily be washed by hand and are quick to dry. Hand washing at home means it can be done at anytime, and there is no trip to the laundry mat. But are these the answer? We will have to see how well we survive the challenge!

For myself, I want to attempt this challenge because I want to see if it makes sense to advocate cloth diapering no matter one's circumstances.

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