Cloth vs. Disposable: Where the debate has no place.

Invariably, when there is a news article about the desperate need for disposable diapers and adult sanitary items there are a significant number of comments about how if the potential recipients of the diapers would just work harder,

“Isn’t it enough that I subsidize their children by paying more in income tax, as well as paying property taxes to attempt to educate the fruit of their groins?”

…predict economic downfalls ahead of having a child,

“Irresponsible people make a conscious choice to have children they can’t afford.”

or from more charitable sorts, the use cloth diapers

“Why not give these less fortunate families with babies cloth diapering kits?”

I’m not sure there is much to be said to commentors who do not sympathize with those in such a situation. The first comments appear to lack the basic adult human capability of sympathy. They have not the capacity to imagine themselves rendered incontinent by a health issue, or that employment may not always be plentiful. However, the latter group who suggest cloth are not lost causes, on the contrary they’re on track and I write with this group in mind.

Airing clean laundry

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for cloth diapering if you can, even in the desert. We cloth diapered Bean for two years and if we’re able to adopt I’d do it again (with the same diapers). Even in the desert I think that cloth can be the best environmental choice and certainly a fabulous fiscal choice dependent on your laundering practices but, and this is a big BUT, that is dependent upon great, stable access to laundry facilities, which means having a stable and well equipped home, as well as daycare facilities and a pediatrician that were willing to work with you and your special snowflake’s delicate skin (after all cloth diapers require special medical permission to be used in accredited and/or state inspected facilities in Arizona.)

If you’re struggling to find a place to sleep at night  you probably do not have easy or cheap access to regular laundry facilities, you probably don’t have access to the same doctor’s practice and may not be able to afford the copay each time you have to ask for a request and any daycare facility may well tell you to take a running jump if you if you ask about cloth diapers. So, while I advocate for the use of cloth diapers, the reality is that those parents who need the services of diaper banks, and those adults who have some infirmity that leaves them incontinent, are not in a position to use cloth diapers and we as a community must meet them where they are and not debate this issue here, just help a mother, a brother, a child, a parent, a grandparent out.

I’m proud to be part of a group called Help A Mother Out that is supporting diaper banks and shelters in our nation using social media.

Please check out the website:, share it on Twitter or on your blog, find out about what your local resources are share those. Come back and share in the comments below or the earlier announcement by April 10th and I’ll enter you into a book giveaway competition.

*We didn’t tumble dry, kept the dirty diapers in a dry pail,  saved diapers up until we had a full load, used cooler water,  and scraped the poop into the toilet etc. etc.

This is part of the 30 minute Blog Challenge



Filed under Acting Up, Diapers

6 responses to “Cloth vs. Disposable: Where the debate has no place.

  1. this was very interesting and insightful. I didn’t/don’t use cloth diapers because well, I have bad memories from the 70s with my little sister (raisins in diapers blech). I’ve been out of work since oct and its very discouraging how hard it is (when you’re already humiliated to be asking) to get any assistance for anything. I’m amazed when people think some are taking advantage of the system…I have no idea how they do that or could.

  2. Thanks netc23. I’m sorry to hear about the work situation. I was unemployed a long time ago, and the shame still burns in memory. That was in another country in the eighties. Here in the US I think that the guilt/shame/humiliation of unemployment is a hundred times worse. Speaking in generalities I think Americans are such an optimistic bunch, if you just try hard enough/ work hard enough the dream can be yours. The flip side of this is the assumption that if crap happens, it must be your own fault. Sigh.
    Thanks for stopping by netc23. I hope that you are able to find gainful employment and certainly assistance SOON!

  3. I use cloth diapers, but I understand exactly what you’re saying. Honestly, even if I still had shared laundry facilities I’m not sure I would be up for this. I love the earth and I love my cloth diapers, but having access to my own washing machine definitely makes all the difference for me.

  4. Rachel F

    Thanks for spelling this out so plainly. It’s so easy to say, “Oh, just use cloth, it’s so much cheaper” without realizing all the potential hurdles.

    Childcare is such a big one — even in eco-friendly San Francisco, with all our green programs, it’s not at all easy to find a daycare that will use cloth diapers.

    • Debra

      Its all up to the parents and the child in who can wear pamper or cloth diapers, the mean problem is i am an non-profit try to get help for who ever to get pampers for mother in need here in fremont ca, i been on face book and other website i ask for help in start an diaper bank or donate pamper to us , if you know any one or company that can help support us call Debra Williams at 510-258-3190 Thank you we need an angel.

  5. littlehousesouthernprairie

    Such a thoughtful, well-put post. Thanks for sharing!

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