So! We live in a country where parents go without food to diaper their children. I learned about this on Metafilter this morning.
Naturally, the early comments were about why people should use cloth diapers, because this is the Internet and why shouldn't people seize every opportunity to lord their superior choices over other, less fortunate people?
And yes, cloth diapering can be a wonderfully economic alternative, provided you've got the cash up front for the initial investment, you're in a situation where you or your children's caregivers are amenable to the specifics, and you've got the time and facilities for convenient cleaning of your stash.
But there are lots of people who don't have a whole lot of time, or childcare situations which permit cloth diapering, or 24/7 access to washing machines that are just a walk down the hall. Like couponing or using a deep freeze to store homemade staples, clothing diapering is one of those economizing measures that presupposes a certain amount of middle class privilege, i.e. control over one's time and access to the capital that can be sunk into start-up costs like appliances and inventory.
Wearing a clean diaper shouldn't be something only middle class babies enjoy. Until we reach the day where every mother in America gets the Finland-style box of start-up baby essentials and things like washers and dryers are standard in every apartment and daycare center, we may as well accept that sometimes, disposable diapers suit a family's circumstances.
And there are things you can do to help make sure every baby keeps a clean bum:
Donate to a diaper bank. I like Help A Mother Out, mostly because it's easy to set up recurring monthly monetary donations. There's also the National Diaper Bank Network. There are even cloth diaper banks, if you feel strongly about that.
Use Amazon.com to do good. Thanks to a three-fer of Amazon Mom, Amazon's Subscribe & Save program and Amazon Prime, I can get nearly 300 diapers delivered anywhere for less than $50. I have a standing arrangement with a local emergency shelter: Every month, I email the director to confirm the diaper sizes they need, then make an order through Subscribe & Save to ship a few big boxes to the address she gives me.
(The nice thing about Subscribe & Save is that you can suspend or cancel subscriptions, so this way, I can make sure I'm delivering size 4 diapers one month, size 2 the next.)
I would urge anyone who's motivated to reach out to their local homeless or domestic shelters, or their local food bank, and ask if they'd like a monthly diaper shipment. This is basically frictionless do-gooderism. I can do something useful for someone else in under five minutes and I know what my money's being used for. It literally took ten minutes to email a shelter director and set up the monthly arrangement.
Okay, then! Now that we've solved one problem, let's all write our congresspeople and start lobbying for the big box of baby stuff for all new parents in the U.S. I cannot wait to see a nation of babies crawling about with star-spangled bottoms.
Got any other bright ideas for diapering the babies in your community? Let me know by hitting me up on Twitter at lschmeiser.