Dudes Love Cloth Diapers Too!

The following interview is from Kristen Columbo. Kristen leads the Real Diaper Circle of Rhode Island and interviewed her husband for this post in our School of Cloth blog series.

Kristen & Joseph Columbo live in Rhode Island with their 2.5 year old twins, a boy and a girl.  They feel like they won the lottery when the babies were born and stay at home with them.  Kristen is a teacher and Joseph is a videographer and a CNA.  Their twins were born at 36 weeks 3 days weighing 6lbs 4oz and 5lbs 8 oz.  The babies have been wearing cloth diapers since they were 6 weeks old.  Kristen & Joseph never purchased a disposable diaper and are now helping their twins through potty learning.

Kristen: “When did you first start thinking about cloth diapers?” 

Joseph: “I watched a news show with all these diapers in a landfill.  It was 2012 and I think you were pregnant.  We didn’t even know we were having twins yet.  The news said that the diapers never decompose or it takes something like 400 years for them to go away.  That’s awful, so I thought about cloth diapers.  There had to have been improvements on them since we were kids.  Cloth diapers today could not be just a piece of cloth and a safety pin with a giant plastic bag over it.  I just wanted to not have to throw them away and make all that garbage.  It had to be easier than it used to be. If anything, it could be better than throwing them in the trash.  It seemed like a good idea, so I told you.” 

Kristen: “How did I react?” 

Joseph: “You brushed it off.  I don’t want to make you seem rude for your article, but you had an attitude.  You thought it was a stupid idea.  Ugh, Joey, you said….  You and your crazy ideas.  You always think I come up with something that will never work out.  You let me worry about those things, Joey, you said.  Cloth diapers...  For TWINS?  What is he thinking now, you said.  My husband is so cheap. You said those things.”

Kristen: “When did it change?”

Joseph: “After you looked cloth diapers up on line, you were sold harder than I was.  You were like, OMG these diapers are so CUTE.  I felt like oh no, we are really going to do this.  Maybe we shouldn’t.  I was talking about them and I was thinking oh no, I have a lot of bad ideas and now she is actually listening to me… oh no.  You showed me pictures of the diapers and they were cute but I was not as nuts as you were about them.  Look at this one its pink.  It’s green. You went up to the diaper store and saw them. New cloth diapers surprised me.  I knew they would be newer and different than a pin and a piece of cloth, but those ones we got are nice.  Snaps.  That was nice.”

Kristen: “When did you start using them?” 

Joseph: “The cloth diapers we had were way too big when the babies got here.   We used disposables at the beginning.  Is that bad?  We had a baby shower and no one knew about cloth diapers. People gave us diapers plus the hospital did too.  We had twins!  It was crazy!  I do not think I was quite ready for the cloth when they came home.  They were basically pooping water and mustard seeds anyways, so it was messy.  I wanted to make sure we had our heads wrapped around everything before we started cloth diapers but, I did not want to buy any disposables.  Once we ran out of disposables, that was it.  We were going to start cloth.  We started cloth diapering when the babies were just a few weeks old.  We never bought a disposable diaper ever.” 

Kristen: “How did the diapers work on little babies?”

Joseph: “I was surprised at how small they snapped up for little babies.  Sammy’s chicken legs did not quite fit at first, but that is because she was skinny.  Remember her chicken legs?  Mason had a problem with his butt for about 2 weeks when he was in disposables.  He liked the cloth diapers better.  They made his butt less red and I oiled him up with the coconut oil.  The diapers worked a lot better than I thought when the kids put on a few pounds.  Sammy was little.  She rolled over a lot and it was tough in the beginning because she pooped all over the place.” 

Kristen: “How was cloth diapering when the babies started eating solid foods?” 

Joseph: “Solid foods make poop firmer and less like watery mustard seeds.  This is what you do.  Hold the diaper up and shake the poop right off.  The bigger they get, the easier it is.” 

Kristen: “How is it to manage illnesses with cloth diapering?” 

Joseph: “Diarrhea is really hard.  Well, it is watery, but hard to manage.  You know what I mean.  It is probably hard with disposables too.  It must be terrible with disposables.  One good thing about the cloth diapers that I can say is that they really can hold a lot of diarrhea.  Wow, the diarrhea.  Make sure you write that.  You really don’t think there is any poop in there until it hits maximum capacity and then wow.  Sometimes, it overflows and I have to make a sprint for the nearest changing area.  Then, I have to go on a scavenger hunt looking for poop in the house.  Disposable diapers I don’t think those are the same.  You know when they are wet because they gap when they are full and babies look like little gangsters walking around the house with saggy pants.  Stay dry layers are great, no saggy pants and they keep babies from getting rashes.” 

Kristen: “What is your laundry routine?” 

Joseph: “I don’t mind helping with the laundry at all.  It makes me feel more responsible. My routine is actually the best.  I use my rubber gloves and a bag and make sure I clean the diapers really well before they go into the machine.  Once I learned to dump the poop before washing the diaper, it washed much better.” 

Kristen: “How do you troubleshoot problems with cloth diapers?” 

Joseph: “I follow my wife’s lead on this.  She does the research and development.  I‘m the guy who said ‘take a plane’ and my wife says, ‘Jet Blue.’  That’s what we go with.”

Kristen: “What type or style of diaper do you prefer?” 

Joseph: “I don’t like Velcro because the kids can get Velcro off easier and there is nothing worse than cleaning poop off from behind the couch.  Leave the diaper on.  Snaps are convenient.  Cleaning poop off the couch is inconvenient.  I only like pocket diapers.  Nothing else.  Those flippy diapers (all in ones) drive me nuts and take forever to dry.  The pieces are all over the place.  The stay dry layer is great because you can leave babies in the diaper for a long time before changing them if you add extra adsorbent layers.  That’s a dirty look.  I change them frequently.  That stay dry layer keeps them DRY.”

Kristen: “Do you have advice for dads regarding cloth diapers if they are unsure?” 

Joseph: “They will save a ton of money.  You do one load of laundry every 3 days for twins.  After you baby is done with them, take the diapers and sell them or use them again on another kid.  Learn how to sew and fix them.” 

Kristen: “You learned how to sew diapers?” 

Joseph: “Fixing diapers, yes.  It is a piece of cake.  They sell these little kits.  I bought a giant spool of elastic for way cheaper at the craft store and I can fix diapers now.  I do the pocket ones and the flippy ones (all in ones).  Watching TV, I am doing nothing anyways, so I pull out the thimble.  Then, I don’t have to worry about loose diapers. After, I fix them with my wife, I can sell them for a good price or hold my kids without getting wet from pee.” 

Kristen: “Any last words?”

Joseph: “Sometimes, I come home and I see that my wife just did a whole load of diapers start to finish and she is the hero.  Other times, I do a whole load of diapers start to finish and I am the hero.  It really is a team effort.” 

Talking to Your Daycare About Cloth Diapers

Most new parents search for a caregiver that supports their values and respects their parenting style. Finding a caregiver that listens to the reasons why you choose cloth diapers and values your choice, makes it more likely that you will have success working with your caregiver. If your search for a child care provider proves to be challenging, we want to give you some tools to talk to your daycare about using cloth diapers.

Some personal experience...

My twins started preschool right before they learned to use the potty. When I was interviewing their daycare, I said, “We use reusable cloth diapers. Would your teachers like me to bring in some diapers ahead of time to make sure they are comfortable with how they are used?” I was fortunate enough to find a preschool that first, took children that were still in diapers, and second, that were actually happy to see that I used cloth diapers.

Before my kiddos started preschool, I brought some diapers and a wet bag in and we talked about the easiest way for the teachers to change my children. We decided that they could hang the wetbag from either a hook on the wall or the back of a nearby door (just steps away). The baskets where other families had disposable diapers, would hold our reusable diapers. All diaper creams had to be clearly marked with the child’s name, so I wasn’t worried about a diaper cream being used that wasn’t cloth safe. Nice!

Every morning during drop off, I put our diapers in the basket and hung our wet bag from the door. When I picked up my kiddos, I would take all of our diapers back home. Rather than have the preschool teacher fuss with dumping any solids, they would close up soiled diapers before adding them to the wet bag. I dumped solids and sprayed diapers when I got home with them in an effort to make using cloth at preschool as easy as possible.

We chose to use hook and loop closure pocket diapers for daycare in an effort to use a reusable cloth diaper that was a similar structure to a disposable diaper. They worked out really well for us! What I love about  pocket diapers is that they work well with prefolds, so whether you wash your own diapers, or use a diaper service, you’re all set!

Here are some great ideas to help you get started:

  • Check out the Real Diaper Association’s “Tips for Using Cloth Diapers in Daycare” guide.
  • Keep your tone positive. Instead of talking about how much you dislike disposables, share why using cloth diapers is important to you.
  • Bring a cloth diaper and wet bag with you to show the provider what they will be working with and come up with a plan to help make diaper changes as simple as possible.
  • Check with your local RDA Circle Leader and see if they are willing to teach a cloth diapering for caregivers class. I have a standing offer, in my circle, to help teach any daycare provider about cloth diapers!
  • Know your state’s regulations when it comes to diapering in daycare.
  • Check the Cloth-Diaper-Friendly Daycare Directory. If you find a daycare that is happy to use cloth diapers, ask them to add their location!
  • Talk to your local cloth diapering community for daycare recommendations!
  • Keep it simple. Show your daycare provider how simple it can be to use cloth diapers. You might even ask them if they have to pay for trash pickup. If they do, using cloth diapers will save them money!

What has your experience been when approaching your daycare about using cloth diapers?


:-) Janice R.


Using Cloth Diapers Overnight

Using cloth diapers overnight requires a few minor adjustments to your daytime diapers. You’ll want to have a good overnight diaper ready for the day your baby starts sleeping longer than 3-6 hours at a stretch (or at the age you are ready to leave baby in a diaper until morning in an effort to increase sleep for you and for baby.) An effective nighttime diaper has added absorbency so that it can work, without leaks, for up to 10-12 hours. It will also have a stay dry liner of some kind so that baby doesn’t wake due to feeling wet.

Overnight diaper style suggestions:

  • Double up. If you use flat diapers during the day, consider adding a second flat diaper in a pad fold to increase absorbency.
  • Try a Fitted Diaper. Fitted diapers make for a great overnight diaper. I liked to add a trifolded cotton terrycloth washcloth right in the wet zone to give our fitted diapers that little added absorbency boost. Terrycloth make for a great way to add absorption to a diaper. All of the little loops in terrycloth add surface area to the fabric which allow it to absorb faster than non-terry fabrics.
  • Try a nighttime version of your daytime diaper. Many manufacturers make nighttime inserts which provide added absorption for longer wear time.
  • Use a wool cover. Wool covers are a great addition to an overnight diaper, provided you or your baby are not sensitive to wool. Wool has two unique qualities that make it ideal for longer wear time. While it serves as a water resistant barrier when lanolized, it also provides some absorption and allows for better breathability than PUL. While the PUL portion of diaper covers only repel fluid, wool is able to absorb small leaks that get past the absorbent portion of your baby’s diaper. Learn more about wool HERE.
  • Layer your fabrics. Many cloth diaper users that own a mix of microfiber and natural fabrics, find that layering their fabrics work well for nighttime. A layer of microfiber (remember that microfiber should have a stay dry layer on top of it to avoid drawing moisture from baby’s skin) on top of a natural fabric work well together. The microfiber tends to grab liquid quickly, while the natural fibers, which are a bit slower to grab liquid, provide a thirstier layer which hold on to liquid for longer and are less susceptible to compression leaks than microfiber alone.

Some other tips for overnight diapering:

  • Make sure your cover is well fitting. Overstuffing a diaper can cause gaps at the legs and may lead to leaks.
  • If you have a tummy sleeper, add an extra layer of absorption at the front of the diaper to help prevent leaks.
  • For boys - point their parts down so that the very top front of the diaper doesn’t have to do all of the work.
  • Use a stay dry top layer to help prevent baby from waking due to feeling wet. Stay dry liners include microsuede (synthetic), fleece (synthetic), and raw silk (natural). Stay dry liners have the ability to wick moisture away from baby’s skin to help them feel dry.
  • If your baby sleeps in fleece pajamas, this added layer can also help to keep sheets dry.
  • Hemp and bamboo are overnight fabric favorites of Real Diaper Circle members. These fabrics are some of the more thirsty fabrics available.
  • To help prevent ammonia buildup in your overnight diapers, try rinsing your overnight diaper thoroughly in the morning prior to adding it to your dirty diapers.


So what is your favorite overnight diaper? We’d love for you to tell us in a comment here or on our Facebook page! Check out the Real Diaper Association's Cloth Diapering At Night Tip Sheet to easily share many of these tips!

:-) Janice Roodsari
Real Diaper Circle Leader
RDA Board of Directors

Wash, Wear, Repeat. Cloth Diaper Laundry Made Simple.

When it comes to cloth diaper blog posts, how to wash cloth diapers is, for good reason, one of the most common topics. Whether the perfect cloth diaper wash routine has proven to be elusive to you or not, I hope you will get a lot out of this post on the subject.

Wash, wear, repeat. It used to be simple, right? When my grandmother told me about washing her cloth diapers, she held up her fists like she was ready to box and said “I used these!” She had a washboard, a bar of laundry soap and a bucket of (soft) water and went to work. Now, I live in an area with really hard water, so when I heard that she had a water softener, I knew that made her job much easier.


Alas, times have changed and our laundry has changed with it. Detergents have been “improved” and complicated with additives that coat fabrics with fragrance, optical brighteners, and fabric softeners. Washing machines have become more “efficient” and use less water and energy. Diapers have also evolved into multilayered, multi-component, and multi-textile poop catchers! It’s no wonder cloth diaper users want a straightforward detergent and wash routine example!


I’m hoping to give you a few tricks of the trade to simplify your wash routine, so stick with me...


Have you read our laundry guide &  laundry science pages? Take a second to go check it out, I’ll wait. :-)

So, now you know the basics of washing and all about the WATCH formula. All of these components play a part in getting fabric clean. Think of each of them as a part of a pie chart. When one is affected, the other components must be adjusted.


WATER - Natural surfactant that does the heavy lifting when it comes to cleaning your diapers.

ACTION - This is where an appropriate sized wash load comes into play. Too many or too few diapers in a wash load will impact how much agitation, and how clean, your diapers get.

TIME - Length of wash and/or soaking

CHEMICALS - Clean rinsing detergent and additives.

HEAT - Temperature of the water in your washing machine.


If you have hard water, you may need to use extra chemicals to counteract those minerals. If you can only wash on cold, you may need to soak your diapers for a bit right before washing or use detergent that works well in cold water. If one of the elements of the WATCH formula is adjusted, the other elements should be adjusted also.


Many cloth diaper users want to know what brand and how much detergent they should use. The truth is, we can’t give you an answer that will fit every situation. I wish we could. The answer will vary depending on your baby, how you feel about detergents, their ingredients and the environment, what type of washing machine you have, and where your water falls on the hard to soft water scale. Don’t worry though! We have resources where you can find local recommendations!


Real Diaper Circle Leaders are a great community resource. A Real Diaper Circle is a great group to ask questions. What detergents are working best in your area where your water hardness or softness is similar? Where can you find cloth diapering supplies locally? A question I frequently hear in my circle is, “How can I tell if I’m using too much detergent?” Check your final rinse cycle. Do you see soap suds? Don’t worry about agitation bubbles that pop quickly once your washer has stopped. If soap suds remain, continue to rinse until they are gone and decrease your detergent amount a little bit at a time. Find a Circle Leader near you! Check out the Real Diaper Association Local Resource Directory.


Bloggers are another great source for brand recommendations! Most bloggers review diaper brands which, if you know what you are looking for in a diaper, will give you a great idea if a diaper is right for your family. Blogger reviews of diaper creams and detergents may also be helpful but make sure to keep in mind that your water and the reviewers water may be very different, leading to different results.


Retailers and manufacturers are a wonderful source of information! They often have washing recommendations. If they are not local to you, make sure to let them know what kind of water you have so that they can give the appropriate advice.


Simple diapers make for a simple wash routine. Need help? The Real Diaper Association is here for you!



School of Cloth 2015

The Real Diaper Association has been supporting cloth diapering advocates and cloth diaper users just like you for over 10 years! We want to continue to help you successfully use 100% reusable cloth diapers and we want to applaud those of you educating others about the benefits of cloth diapers. One of the best ways to educate others about cloth diapers is to give you an excuse to get together with your community to share what you know about cloth diapers. In order to support and encourage your efforts to teach your community about cloth diapers, we are hosting the third annual School of Cloth event!

School of Cloth is all about education and giving back. Although anyone can register to teach a School of Cloth class, Real Diaper Association donors and Real Diaper Circle Leaders may sign up to teach School of Cloth Classes at no charge. What are the benefits of teaching a School of Cloth class? Well, other than the fact that you get to share your knowledge about cloth diapers, all attending students will be entered to win cloth diapering related prizes from the generous businesses supporting School of Cloth. That’s not all our winners get… Remember when I said this was about giving back? Our winners will get to choose one of the registered (5013c) cloth diaper charities to receive a separate donation worth an estimated $400!

  • To register your 5013c charity to be eligible to win sign up HERE.
  • To learn more about the origins of School of Cloth click HERE.
  • If you are a cloth diaper business, and would like to donate, register HERE.
  • Sign up to teach or attend a School of Cloth class near you HERE!

No classes near you? If you can’t attend or teach a class, you can still join in the fun by following our blog posts and blog hop and by answering our School of Cloth questions with the #SchoolOfCloth on social media. Keep your eyes open for some virtual School of Cloth classes this year!

Are you a blogger that would like to learn more about how to participate in this year’s School of Cloth Blog Hop? Blogger suggestions and tools can be found HERE.

What's a Blog Hop? A Blog Hop starts with a primary blog post. Other bloggers wirte a related post and link it up to the primary post (or blog hop home post). Blog hops allow readers to reach many sources of information on the same topic or theme in one convienient place!

This years School of Cloth blog hop posts will post every Friday in October and will include the following topics:




4) October 23rd, 2015: DUDES LOVE CLOTH DIAPERS TOO!

5) October 30th, 2015: POTTY LEARNING WITH CLOTH.

Thank you for your continued support of the Real Diaper Association! Become a member or a Real Diaper Circle Leader today to help us help more families learn about

the benefits of 100% reusable cloth diapers!

Taking the Plunge by Christie Dickson

Have you ever wondered how you would wash your diapers if you didn’t have access to a washing machine? I’d thought about it a few times; “what would we do in the event of a natural disaster?”, but I didn't worry about it too much. Then, three years into my cloth diapering journey, there was a mechanical failure in my hot water heater and I found I couldn’t wash my diapers in my normal way. Luckily, I could reach out to my Real Diaper Circle Leader and friend, Janice, who pointed me in the right direction for learning how to build a camp washer.


My husband, Jeremiah, went out to the hardware store for a bucket, lid, and plunger. When he got home, he cut a hole in the lid, and drilled holes around the plunger to allow for better agitation.


My next mission was to heat water. I set to work on the stove, heating water to rinse the diapers. I put the dirty diapers in the bucket and filled it about 2/3 of the way full with warm water. We closed the lid and took turns agitating the diapers, for about 10 minutes. Jeremiah took the bucket and emptied it. We then moved to the wash cycle. We added hot water (around 120 degrees F). I wasn't sure how much detergent we needed to add, so I added one heaping tablespoon of Tide, a heaping tablespoon of powdered water softener, and, in a change to my normal routine, I added a tablespoon of oxyclean.

We took turns agitating the washer, plunging until our arms were tired. I checked the suds level after the first round, I was shocked to see how many suds there were, Oops! We agitated the diapers for about 30 minutes. Even my son, aged three (pictured), helped out! Jeremiah then dumped the bucket again and we rinsed, several times. I've forgotten now how many times we needed to rinse. Once we were mostly clear of soap bubbles, I tossed the diapers in the washer to spin the water out. If the washer spin cycle had been broken, I would have wrung out the inserts by hand. I hung my shells to dry like normal, and dried the inserts in the dryer.

Everything came out really clean! I was so glad because we have really thick inserts! On the morning we found our hot water heater was broken I started using all our receiving diaper flats and these proved really easy to clean. I found them super trim and absorbent for use too.

For those wondering if they can hand wash; yes, you can! I highly recommend it. Not only does it use a lot less water, extremely helpful in a drought situation like California is experiencing, but it is also great exercise for your arms! Hand washing is an economical way to wash your diapers if you don't have a washer at home, or if you have to use a coin-op machine. Just make sure to dump the initial rinse and wash cycle water into your toilet or down a utility sink. Don't worry, the toilet will flush itself before overflowing.

Next time I hand wash, I will omit the oxyclean, I think it contributed to the excess suds I experienced. I’ve found a full tablespoon of washing powder does well for handwashing.


Christie Dickson

Real Diaper Circle Co-Leader of Real Diaper Circle for Ventura County, CA





Thoughts on Cloth Diapering; Mothers Day 2015

RDA Mothers Day (2).jpg

Spring has arrived in our corner of the earth. Spring to me means clothesline season. Every time I hang our diapers on the line, I feel connected to my mother and grandmother.


My mother cloth diapered two children. Disposables were just becoming more popular, but she says they were too expensive. She did not have a dryer until her children were out of diapers. She kept life as simple as possible, making many decision based on saving money. We lived in a mild climate and she hung our laundry on the line year round. My, and my brother’s, earliest memories are of playing in our backyard inside the laundry basket.


However, my mother has a hard time using my daughter’s cloth diapers. I had a revelation last month as to why my daughters’ diaper is usually crooked, or backwards after a day with her Nana. The pocket diapers that dominate our diaper stash are designed to be similar to disposable diapers. My mother has never used disposable diapers. She used prefolds with pins, covered with rubber pants, for both of her children. Like many aspects of modern parenting, I have taken cloth diapers and complicated them.


My grandmother immigrated to the United States (from Australia) after World War II. She was a war bride who grew up on a farm. Her first winter in the Northeastern section of the US was eye opening. When the wash froze on the line outside, she attempted to photograph the frozen laundry. In that era, cloth diapers were the only option.


I often wonder what my grandmother would think of me cloth diapering. She was thrifty, yet also practical. The diapers on my clothesline would be unrecognizable to her. Perhaps my colorful pocket diapers and covers would seem frivolous to her.  Maybe she would think I am wasting time my hanging my clothing. Modern conveniences, such as dryers, simply made sense to a woman who boiled water over a fire for laundry day.


But when I hang diapers out to dry, I think of her. When I hang cloth diaper laundry on the line, I am carrying out a chore that generations of women in my family have performed. I am the person I am today because of these women.  


My life is wonderful, especially because I have choices. I choose cloth. I want to line dry and keep life simple. Maybe I will use my prefolds more to remember how cloth diapering can be simple too.

Lorna Flowers

Real Diaper Advocate


The Great Cloth Diaper Change 2015 in Belgium

Michelle Dominguez, the RDA’s Great Cloth Diaper Change Event Coordinator, saw something special going on in Belgium and wanted to know more about it. While the majority of GCDC events take place in the US, I encourage you to take a moment to check out our GCDC event map to get an idea of the number of international hosts. You’ll notice that, at a distance, there is such a cluster of pins in Belgium, that you can’t event read this country’s name!

Michelle reached out to José Delameilleure, Belgium GCDC host and owner of the cloth diaper store Klein Spook (which José translates to mean ‘little rascal’) to find out about the magic happening in Belgium…

Michelle: I’m curious to know how you first heard of The Great Cloth Diaper Change?

José: We heard about the first GCDC from one of our Dutch distributors, 'Kaatje Katoen'. But the first one came too early for us, we only started the webshop in May of that year.

Michelle: How common is cloth diapering in general in Belgium? From my vantage point in the US, it seems like cloth is more widely accepted in your country than it is here. Is that true? And if so, why do you think that is?

José: In Belgium, cloth diapering is getting more common than before. In some cities, like Leuven, 10% of babies wear cloth diapers, in our own city, Ghent, it's about 4 percent. The reason it’s more popular in Belguim is that about 40% of cities in Belgium give out subsidies to promote cloth diapering! If you choose cloth and show an invoice to the city council, you can get around 120 dollars as a grant. The city gives out grants to decrease the environmental impact of diapers.

In Belgium, cloth diapering is something we see more often in larger cities with a university or high school. Cloth diapering is typically more common here among the educated middle class, who are conscious about what is happening to our environment. If you go to smaller, rural towns, the percentage of cloth diaper users drops.

Michelle: I know your event is being held in a beautiful historic location this year. Will you tell our readers about it? Will you be holding additional activities throughout the day?

José: Our Antwerp event is in a beautiful 200 year old school! We are keeping it simple. We don't do extra activities, just the diaper change itself.

Michelle: How many attendees are you expecting?

José: We are aiming at 60 in Ghent (last year 55), and around 50 in Antwerp (last year we had 46 participant pairs), as there are more events now in towns not too far from us, we think growth in numbers will be limited. Last year, for all of Belgium we had 285 babies that were changed, and 257 that qualified for the record, so that's quite nice.

Michelle: Are you doing anything particular to reach non-cloth users?

José: In Ghent and Antwerp most participants are our existing clients. I know that at other events they have been able to reach out to families not currently using cloth diapers. At Winona Van Eck’s event in Beerse last year, I think a third of the babies changed were 'non-cloth babies' that tested cloth for the occasion!

Michelle: What do you think has made Belgium so successful with The Great Cloth Diaper Change?

José: All the organizers in Belgium work together! We have a joint press release (sent out by Winona) and my wife made a flyer that has all locations in Belgium on it. And we all distribute it among our clients. So it's great to be working together with our 'competitors' toward our common goal!

We at the Real Diaper Association appreciate José and all of the Belgium GCDC hosts for their inspiring efforts. Simple, successful events with a lot of teamwork prove to be a great way to build success in your community! We thank you and all of our Great Cloth Diaper Change hosts for your efforts to bring simple, reusable diapers to your communities! Best of luck with your events!

-Janice Roodsari

Real Diaper Circle Leader

RDA Board of Directors

In appreciation of Marshall Rosenberg

This week the Center for Nonviolent Communication shared that Marshall Rosenberg, American Psychologist and creator of Nonviolent Communication, died on February 7th, 2015 at home with his wife and children at his side. If you are not an RDA volunteer, then you might wonder what this has to do with cloth diapers....

RDA Founder, Lori Taylor, sums it up nicely:

"By creating a system for learning nonviolent communication and by being an ambassador for compassion, Marshall Rosenberg helped many of us to slow down and look at the real needs underlying our communications. Real Diaper Association has required our volunteers to learn nonviolent communication from our founding 11 years ago because we want those who represent our organization to hear what parents really need rather than getting caught up on the surface of what they say. We mourn his passing and celebrate his work."

Current RDA Chair, Angela Torres adds:

"Marshall Rosenberg's vision has been the cornerstone of RDA since it's inception helping us to become the longstanding support organization our founders intended. As we enter our second decade, we will continue to use the tenants of NVC to reach through every situation to meet the individual needs of every family, virtually and face to face, listening deeply and acting with kindness."

RDA Board member, Angela Imes adds:

"I would just want to express my gratitude to a man whose words and ideas have helped me through many of life's difficult moments."

I wrote a post last June to help people understand how Nonviolent Communication is such an integral tool to the RDA, entitled "What makes the Real Diaper Association special?" I believe the quote pictured above grasps one of the most important aspects of how we use NVC. We are educating to increase well-being and we want that education to be done by helping to meet a family's needs. Relaying that education without coercion is of utmost importance to us because we value person to person connection. Our NVC training, however, reaches far beyond our RDA communications. In my experience, it has improved every relationship in my life.

Thank you Marshall. May you rest in peace. Your work will continue to bring peace and compassion to everyone that uses it!

- With Love and Compassion,

Janice Roodsari

RDA Board Member and Real Diaper Circle Leader

Cloth Diapers vs Disposable

Have you seen claims that environmental impact of cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers is a toss up?

Every time you read that claim, you are seeing the lingering effects of one flawed study published in the UK a decade ago.

Since RDA keeps our claims evidence-based, we have to call shenanigans on the use of this study to prove anything other than one conclusion:

When it comes to environmental impact of cloth vs disposable diapers, it’s no toss up.

On the contrary, even the flawed study says impact of cloth diapers is in the hands of the consumer.

What the Study Actually Says

The study used to make this claim was published by the UK government in 2005 with an update in 2008 (after much uproar). There is plenty wrong with this study. Advisory board of disposable diaper industry representatives with few reusable diaper representatives. Reusable diaper representatives complained bitterly about conflicts of interest and flawed methods. Compared “optimistic future projections” of disposable diapers with two types of reusable diapers. Home-laundered diapers included were not representative but a thick, slow-drying type, and the numbers included were low. Commercially laundered diaper (diaper service) data was provided by disposable diaper industry representatives. Cloth diaper data included ironing. Ironing. Taking a hot iron and flattening out every cloth diaper. You know we all do that. This study did not compare all disposable diapers with all cloth diapers. It compared a lower-impact subset of future, wished-for disposable diapers with a higher-impact subset of uncommon cloth diapers. Given all of these flaws in framing the questions and gathering the data, the worst this study could find was a small overlap in environmental impact between thick terry diapers washed and dried by machine then ironed and the best-case disposable diapers of the future. That’s all. That’s the small area of overlap that is misused to justify a conclusion of similar impact. Since few use terry nappies (a lot like thick hand towels) and none of us irons our diapers, we’re left wondering how that could ever be considered representative of cloth diapers as used in 2005, let alone in 2015. Since no one was using the wishful thinking disposable diapers of the future in 2005, it was a nonsensical conclusion even then. Even with all of the trouble in data, sources, and conflicts of interest, a tiny overlap was all they could come up with. That’s all that was needed to cast fear, uncertainty, and doubt over the common sense conclusion that reusable diapers are better for the environment than single-use diapers. You don’t have to buy into that nonsense, though. We could (and should) continue to argue about the flaws in this study, nevertheless, we can still use the findings as they are to show that cloth diapers have 40% lower impact than disposable diapers. Cloth diapers have 40% lower impact than disposable diapers.

Are Cloth Diapers Better for the Environment?

Cloth diapers are absolutely better for the environment than any disposable diaper on the market today. If parents make an effort, they can easily lower the impact even further. Most of the impact of cloth diapers (about 90%) comes from the energy used to heat water. Wash diapers at 140 degrees, which is hot enough to clean diapers without wasting energy. Have you ever tried handwashing cloth diapers? Because so little water is used and it is not hot, handwashing uses very little energy for lowest overall impact. The rest of the energy used with cloth diapers (12%) goes to the electric dryer. Air dry diapers to lower impact. Other considerations that lower overall environmental impact are detergent choice (avoid phosphate-based detergents, which case nutrient water pollution), renewable resources (like cotton and wool over synthetic fibers), organics (which cause less stress on environment), and reuse for another child. When you talk with cloth diapering parents or new parents concerned about environmental impacts, help them understand that their choices make a big difference. Cloth diapers vs disposable diapers

Speak Up!

If you see a claim that there is no difference in environmental impact of cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers, call shenanigans. I call shenanigans on your claim! Speak up. Comment. Provide reliable information to show that even the study cited doesn’t conclude what it is simplistically claimed to conclude. Remind authors and speakers that the study shows cloth diapers have 40% lower impact than disposable diapers. Repeat that over and over until people get it.

How to Lower the Environmental Impact of Cloth Diapers

How do you lower impacts of reusable cloth diapers? Use Energy Star rated washing machines. Wash diapers at 140 degrees. Air dry. Use washable wipes and liners. Use low-impact detergent. Use organic products. Reuse diapers for the next child, then give them away or sell them to another. For more details on the flawed UK study on the environmental impact of diapers, see a full review on The takeaway is obvious: wash with care; care how you wash. Join School of Cloth 2014 virtually and blog about our weekly topics! Don't forget to use the hashtags #SchoolOfCloth and #ClothVsDisposables when sharing your post! Please link up your School of Cloth post on this weeks topic or a post you have previously written about comparing cloth diapers to disposables. Blogger details. Why did you choose cloth over disposables?