The Cloth Option
Written by: Kaity J - Advocate at The Cloth Option
In 2018, a group of caregivers came together to form The Cloth Option (TCO). We knew Diaper Need affected one in three families in the US, and during our founding stages, learned even more about this resource gap and who it involves. Diaper Need means a family cannot provide enough diapers to keep their child clean and dry. Not only does Diaper Need have a negative impact on children with more rashes and infections, caregivers reported higher rates of anxiety and depression when they didn’t have enough diapers for their babies. As with many public health issues, this burden disproportionately affects communities of color. Because there are no government programs to assist families with diapers, non-profit organizations take on the responsibility of ensuring every family has access to enough clean diapers for their baby.
The caregivers who formed TCO understood that disposable diaper banks play an important role in closing the gap on diaper access. But they’re not accessible to every family and often don’t provide enough to meet families’ needs for the entire month. As cloth diaper users ourselves, we knew it could be an affordable, sustainable option for caregivers. One of the main barriers for using cloth diapers is a higher start-up cost. Although disposable diapers cost significantly more over the full diapering stage, that cost is distributed more evenly. The founders of TCO chose to remove these barriers by providing a free, loaned stash of cloth diapers to get families started.
Another barrier to access is education around cloth diapers. Often, flats or prefolds, pins and plastic pants come to mind when folks envision cloth diapers. Caregivers wonder what to do about number two, how to put the diapers on their baby, and how diapers need to be cared for. This was another consideration for TCO and plenty of education and support is included in our program. Advocates around the country are assigned to each family approved for our program. Cloth diaper beginner classes are offered to families and monthly check-in emails provide a platform for asking and answering questions.
Since 2018, we’ve provided more than 52,000 diapers for over 3,500 children, which kept at least 10.5 million disposable diapers out of landfills. TCO is secular and social-justice oriented and does not employ any paid staff, keeping our overhead costs low. Every dollar donated helps to provide diapers for families in need, by purchasing diapers or covering shipping costs for families too far from a local advocate.
We at sPUNKy rumps are excited to be choosing The Cloth Option as our Inaugural Feature Organization. An important cornerstone to our Holistic Sustainability model is Community Sustainability. As a primarily cloth diaper brand, we admire The Cloth Option's mission to address diaper need as well as environmental sustainability. We are excited tto assist in their mission.