Last year, I participated in the 1st Annual Flats and Handwash Challenge, hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry (you can read my post about it here). There were about 200 participants last year. This year, for the 2nd Annual Flats and Handwash Challenge, there are about 500! So, why am I doing this, especially since I already experienced it last year, I do own a washer and dryer, and I have 5 children to tend to (the younger 4 of which are home full time)? Why do I want to take the time and energy to switch from my normal diapers (cotton fitteds and wool covers) to flat diapers, and then handwash them???
Well. First of all, it’s fun. It changes things up a bit. It’s a challenge. When I was a little girl, my favorite books were The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I must have read each book 6 times, maybe more. I have even re-read them as an adult, and we are currently reading them to our children at bedtime (something that will keep us busy for months to come!). So, as you might imagine, I was(/am?) a little obsessed with the pioneer period. And how did the pioneers do their laundry? Why, by handwashing, of course! So, you see, by participating in this challenge, I get an excuse to play pretend as an adult. 😀 I even use an old-fashioned washboard. But that’s just the fun part.
On to the business part. The real point of this challenge is to prove that cloth diapers can be used by those who do not have washing machines at their disposal. And since flat diapers are the LEAST expensive type (averaging $1 each NEW), it is easy even for those on the smallest of budgets to acquire a decent sized stash for the price of a week or two’s worth of disposable diapers. Then they don’t have to buy any more – EVER! (Well, that’s not entirely true — diapers do wear out, but again, flats are super affordable, so even replacing them as they wear out will barely make a dent in the budget!)
I founded and co-lead a local cloth diaper group. Its purpose is to educate families about cloth diapering; from the different options available to how to use and wash them. By participating in the FHWC (again), I am able to be a local, in-person witness to the possibility of cloth diapering in the face of two challenges: thinking you can’t afford cloth diapers, and/or thinking you can’t use them because you don’t have a washing machine. Of course, there are those that simply do not want to handwash, and that is understandable. You really have to be committed to cloth in order to be willing to do this kind of thing full time. But when your budget is so low that you have to choose between buying diapers and buying food or paying your utility bill (I’ve been there!), you have a problem. Some parents have begun to keep their babies in disposable diapers much longer than they should, or even try to wash out and reuse them! All in the name of saving money. What is with this madness?? This practice is unhealthy for numerous reasons. They end up sitting in their own filth, which is just plain unsanitary. There are also toxic chemicals in disposable diapers. Why would you want to prolong their exposure to them?
There is a simple solution: cloth. No money? Flats. No washer? Handwash. I am taking this challenge to help prove that it is doable.
Tomorrow I will tell you what kind of materials I am using this year — I have tweaked things a bit since last year. Stay tuned! 🙂
To see why others are taking this challenge, click here (and scroll down to the linkys at the bottom of the post).