January 1st was the start of 2019 and the birthday of The Cloth Option, a cloth diaper advocacy group. This non-profit was formed by volunteers with a passion to end diaper need. Their mission? To encourage families to use cloth diapers as a sustainable solution to close the diaper gap. Advocates for The Cloth Option work on a volunteer basis, building relationships with local families to support them in their cloth journey. While The Cloth Option has only been around for a few weeks, this non-profit is making huge waves in the parenting world.
“We believe The Cloth Option should be available to all who choose it.”
Diaper need is defined as a lack of clean diapers. While diapers might not seem to be out of reach to you or me, many families struggle to make ends meet. For some, they have no other options but to choose between food or diapers, heat or wipes. Desperate parents have even resorted to reusing soiled diapers - blow-drying wet diapers and putting them back on their baby. No, it’s not sanitary - but what choice do they have? Unfortunately, the United States does not have any federal or state-level aid programs designed to meet diaper need. This means families must rely on private charity to safely diaper their baby.
RELATED: What Is Diaper Need?
Several non-profits operate as disposable diaper banks. These charities do great work to help families in need! Of course, disposable diapers are not self-sustaining; once they’re gone, they’re gone. This issue of “running out” is exactly why The Cloth Option exists. Previous cloth diapering non-profit The Rebecca Foundation shuttered its doors after the founder, Amanda La Bell, was found to have mismanaged organization funds. While corruption is never acceptable, the closure left a hole in the cloth diapering world. In order to avoid the same fate of The Rebecca Foundation, The Cloth Option is built on transparency and accountability. Every member has a vote in all organizational matters.
Cloth diapering is often inaccessible to low-income families as the startup cost can be quite prohibitive. The Cloth Option removes this barrier by providing families with a stash of cloth diapers. These diapers can be washed at home or in a laundromat, which means families will never run out of diapers. Even better, the same diapers can keep a baby clean and happy from infancy to potty training! After that baby potty trains, the diapers can be sanitized and used by future children, too.
The Cloth Option provides packages of cloth diapers to families who join the program. In addition to the diapers themselves, the local advocates provide one-to-one mentoring on proper cloth diapering laundry and care. Families who receive a Cloth Option package are welcome to keep their diapers until they no longer need them; after that, they are encouraged to pass the diapers on to another family who might benefit from using cloth. Packages are hand-delivered or shipped to families at no cost.
In the few short weeks since The Cloth Option launched their diaper program, they have been featured by Scary Mommy, Parents magazine, and the Huffington Post. The immediate demand for cloth diapers has been exacerbated by the recent U.S. government shutdown. Most TCO advocates were certain the organization would have a slow start. Instead, four weeks of frenzy has produced some impressive numbers.
The Cloth Option has provided diaper packages for 183 children. The cloth diapers they have shared with families will replace over 400,000 disposable diaper changes - and that’s a conservative estimate.
Families in need can apply for their own cloth diapers from The Cloth Option on their website. If you’re interested in volunteering or supporting The Cloth Option’s mission, visit their Facebook. Local advocates may have specific needs, but the largest need overall is a financial donation to cover shipping costs. Parents are welcome to donate any preloved or new diapers and diaper accessories. Donate your time and talents by joining the team as an advocate or support volunteer.