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School of Cloth Sponsor Highlight: Enkore Kids

Recently, we had an opportunity to interview Susan McCarthy from Enkore Kids in Boonsboro, MD.  Enkore Kids specializes in new and used cloth diapers, baby carriers, clothing, toys, and baby-related equipment.  Susan is in training to become a Real Diaper Circle Leader to even better serve her community through cloth diaper education and support.  Enkore Kids donated $500 of cloth diaper products to the School of Cloth event, much of which will be donated to charities who distribute cloth diapers to low-income families.

Great Cloth Diaper Change at Enkore Kids, April, 2013

How would you describe your business and its place in your community? 
SM: We offer our customers and community a great way to raise their children affordably in these increasingly difficult economic times. We provide families with a way to get money back for items their children have outgrown or are no longer using and provide a great selection of gently used items at less than new retail prices to help them provide new items for their children. Our large selection of new and used diapers can help a family save thousands of dollars just in diapering alone. We have an ever changing selection of items and take pride in getting to know our customers and being able to spend time helping them make the best choices for their families 

How important a task is cloth diaper education to your business? 
SM: Cloth diaper education is very important to our business. Our classes show them it's so much easier than they thought. We believe in helping families to save money and to help reduce the environmental impact of having a child. Education helps parents make the best choices for their families without succumbing to misleading advertisements or the latest hype. 

How frequently do you teach cloth diapering classes in your community? What types of classes do you teach? 
SM: We teach families everyday in-store about diapers and offer classes several times a year about diapers. We also offer classes and education in the areas of baby wearing and car seat safety. 

What's your favorite piece of advice to give NEW parents about cloth diapering? 
SM: 
My favorite piece of advice to give to new parents about cloth diapering is to not give up- they may need to try several brands and/or styles of diapers before the find the right combination to fit their baby and their lifestyle. Also, as baby grows they may need to adjust their routines and stash again. Cloth diapering is not a one time purchase and you're done, even with “one-size” diapers. It's an evolving part of your child's life. 

Enkore Kids is offering many cloth diapering classes this month as part of School of Cloth.  

 

 


Using Flour Sack Towels as Flat Diapers

Flour sack towels make great, versatile flat diapers.


Flats by far are one of my favorite diapers to use, and make up 75% of my diaper stash. I have two children in cloth, a two year old and a 7 ½ month old, and I reach for my flats 90% of the time. The only type of flats that I have in my stash and the only ones I have ever used are Flour Sack Towels (FSTs). Therefore, I have nothing really to compare the FST to, since I have never tried a name brand flat.

Two years ago, I wanted to participate in the Flats and Handwashing Challenge, but needed to buy flats on a very tight budget. I heard about FSTs so I was off to find them. I started the challenge with 10 FSTs and 5 receiving blankets. By the end of the challenge, I was in love with them and bought 10 more to add to my stash.

 

The benefits of using FSTs as flats are:

- They are very accessible. Most chain stores have Flour Sack Towels in the kitchen linen aisle. I have found them in Wal-Mart, Target, and Meijer. 
- They are cost effective. All of them averaged $1 each.
- They work well. There is not much shrinkage, folding is easy and they are soft. Absorbency depends on the age of the towel, but I have not had many problems with them. 

Prepping them was easy. A 20 minute boil with a drop or two of Dawn dish soap and a wash in the machine and they were ready to use.

The only down side to using FSTs: They give off lint every time you wash them. In addition, this can be messy and more work. When I go to fold my clean FSTs and shake first, lint ends up all over the floor. You can tell right where I stood to fold my FSTs. This lint can also be found on baby’s bottom. Since they are always leaving lint behind, they are also becoming thinner. To this day, I still have about four FST that have been in my stash for one year, but they are so thin I can see through them, or they have holes in them. Since they thin so much I use two FSTs together to make one diaper for my child. Therefore, fifty FSTs gives me 25 diapers.

Overall, they are great for a quick pinch if you need to increase your stash, need an emergency diaper when on a trip, or want to try out flats before spending the money. If you decide flats are for you and you want them, I suggest saving and buying actual flat diapers. They may last you longer, and still be easy on your pocket book in the end.

- Luann Wells is an RDA volunteer in training to be a Circle Leader in the Low Country Real Diaper Circle.


Using cloth diapers on a budget – How to build that stash!

The most economical and historically effective commercial method of cloth diapering is simple flats or prefold diapers. Families can cloth diaper for around $100 by using one-size waterproof covers and prefolds, or cloth diaper for even less by using items around your home.

With a tight budget, there are alternatives to help build a stash of cloth diapers:

1. Create a baby registry for cloth diapers. Consider having a “cloth diaper shower.”

2. Buy gently used diapers.

3. Use items that you have around the home.

4. Try an economical system like flats and prefolds.

5. Save a little money each week to buy your diaper stash. Build your stash over time.
 

The following chart shows how to build a stash of cloth diapers over time.  Prefold diapers will be used in the example assuming the average prefold costs $2.80 and the average disposable diaper costs $.20.  For the purposes of this chart, initially you will need to purchase one prefold.  Replacing one disposable with one prefold every day for two weeks will allow you to save another $2.80.  You will now have two prefolds to use every day.  The effect is similar to a debt snowball.

After two months, you will have enough prefolds to use cloth full-time!

In reality, you will need an inexpensive diaper fastener (such as a pin, Snappi or Boingo) or a waterproof cover to hold the prefold on the baby.  These can be purchased up front for around $15 or you can make a cover and inserts from items you already have at home.  You can slow down your purchasing snowball to buy additional covers or use your extra savings at week 9 to purchase more.

Diapers can be hand washed while you are building your stash and only have a few.  An alternative is to wash each diaper with towels or other items that you will be washing in a machine on hot water.

You can use the diaper purchasing snowball with any cloth diapering system.  Just evaluate your goals, your budget, and what type of diapering system you prefer.  The timing of the complete conversion to reusable cloth diapers will change depending on the variables.  The most important aspect is that everyone can cloth diaper, and everyone can be freed from the economic bindings of disposable diapers.  Enjoy your savings from week 9 through potty learning!

- Elizabeth Pilgrim, Oklahoma Real Diaper Circle Leader


Cloth diaper banks - Helping families in need get started

The decision to cloth diaper is one of the single most economical decisions that a family can make. The tangible benefit to their family’s financial health is immediately felt. There is no doubt that cloth diapers save you money, and you can see a return on your investment in the matter of a few short months. But what about families who cannot afford to invest in a $400 stash of pocket diapers up front, or even $100 for prefolds and covers?

A family might spend $40-60 per month on disposable diapers, or $14 per week on packages of Pampers from the grocery store, but if budget is an issue, then to drop a hundred dollars on one diaper purchase is out of the question. Especially for families who are having to choose between food and diapers, the epidemic is wide spread and keeping families trapped in buying that one small package of diapers each week.

For families like this, is there another way? In fact there are several ways to skirt around this commercial booby trap! A family could buy used cloth diapers in the secondhand market or reuse items around your house as diapers.

Another option is to sign up for the services of a Cloth Diaper Bank. These banks have sprung up around the country and multiplied over the past 3 years. Many banks are local, but there are 2 who ship nationally: Giving Diapers Giving Hope (GDGH) and The Rebecca Foundation. You can go here to see a list of all of the Cloth Diaper Banks and here to see a map of where they are all located.

Each bank uses different income guidelines and application requirements for documenting diaper need. Some of these programs lend diapers, while others give them away. Either way, they all help families start cloth diapering.

A family can expect to receive anywhere from 12-40 cloth diapers, and most banks also provide assistance in the form of Cloth Diapering 101 classes, mentors, resources, or other guidance.

To find out if there is a cloth diaper bank near you, explore the list and options linked above. Even if you already cloth diaper, there are often opportunities to volunteer or donate your own used diapers.

Check out this video, made by Kim Rosas of Dirty Diaper Laundry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- Stacy Mojica, Low Country Real Diaper Circle Leader and founder of Cloth for Every Bum


The simplicity of hand washing cloth diapers

Hand washing cloth diapers is easy especially when using simple diapers like flats and prefolds.   I recommend washing every day.  It only takes a few minutes and is less daunting than washing several days’ worth of diapers at a time. Simple steps to hand wash cloth diapers:

  1. Pre-rinse the diaper with warm water
  2. Use a small amount of detergent and agitate the diaper in hot water.
  3. Rinse well and wring out excess water.
  4. Hang to dry.

Pre-rinse the diaper.

Dunk the soiled part of the diaper into the toilet to remove solids.  Any residual can be rinsed in the sink or bathtub and washed down the drain.  Store wet diapers in the sink, a small plastic bin, or a wetbag.  Soaking dirty flats or prefolds (in a safe area) between washings will help get them clean.

Use a small amount of detergent and agitate the diaper.

If desired, use rubber gloves to protect your hands while scrubbing.  Fill the sink, bathtub, or a bucket with hot water and a clean-rinsing detergent.  Be cognizant of the amount of detergent used as a sink will have much less water than a washing machine.  Massage the fabric with your hands and rub the fabric together.  It takes about 5 minutes to wash just a few diapers at a time.

Rinse well and ring out excess water.

Drain the water and rinse each diaper.  Twist each diaper to wring the water out while removing as much water as possible as this will shorten drying time.

Hang to dry.

Hanging diapers outside is an efficient way to dry; however, flats and prefolds also dry quickly hanging inside.  Hang them over the shower curtain rod, a drying rack, or the back of a chair.

You should be able to see and smell that your diapers are getting clean.  If you are concerned about bacteria residue in the diapers, you can iron flats and prefolds.  The heat will kill any bacteria that could be present.

In my experience, there is a satisfaction that comes with personally washing your baby's diapers.  It's just one more thing I can do for my baby, and I love to hang clothes outside.  It brings me a sense of peace that I do not find in other everyday chores.  I hope you will also find joy in the simplicity of hand washing your cloth diapers.

- Elizabeth Pilgrim, Oklahoma Real Diaper Circle Leader


Cloth diaper for under $5 using items in your home!

Do you want to get started using cloth diapers but can’t dig up the funds to buy them? No worries! Use what you already have! Up-cycling items you own into cloth diapers is THE most economical way to diaper a child. It’s also great for the environment! Remember, the only requirement for a cloth diaper is an absorbent layer, covered with a water resistant layer! It really is THAT simple.

Items that work well as diapers:

-Sheets and pillow cases (to use as a flat diaper cut/sew to approximately 29x29 in.)

-Flour sack towels or single layer dish towels (used as a flat diaper)

-Cotton or Jersey knit t-shirts for a T-shirt diaper

-Cotton or flannel receiving blankets (used as a flat diaper)

-Washcloths or fingertip towels (for extra absorbency or to act as a “doubler”)

 *Search flat diaper folds to learn how to fold the above materials into a diaper OR check out this video on folding a t-shirt into a diaper!*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Items that you can turn into covers:

-Micro fleece jackets or blankets

-Wool sweaters (You will also need lanolin and a wool wash to make a wool cover water resistant)

*Search “The Katrina soaker pattern” or check out the “no sew fleece diaper cover” video below by Kim from Dirty Diaper Laundry for diaper covers you can make at home.*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Accessories:

-Store dirty diapers in a clean bucket or your washing machine until washing

-A wetbag (or water resistant bag to hold soiled diapers on the go) can be a large zip closure plastic bag or plastic grocery bags.

-You will need a safe closure device for your up-cycled diapers. Diaper pins, Snappis and Boingos are safe to use as diaper closures and cost between $2-5. (Pins may be easier to use on some tightly woven fabrics.)

In conclusion, whether you sew or not, you probably have everything you need at home to get started with cloth diapering!

This post was written by Janice Roodsari. Janice is a stay at home mom to twins, an RN, an environment and cloth diaper advocate, and a blogger. She also leads the Real Diaper Circle of Ventura County. You can find more posts written by Janice at http://mommawords.com.


RDA Member Profile: Happy 25th Anniversary, Comfy Cotton!

"Comfy Cotton Diaper Service has outfitted more than 15,000 babies in cloth diapers, all with an extreme focus on being environmentally friendly." They have washed over 40 million pounds of diapers (as well as 34 million pounds of other reusable linens), preventing at least that much waste from entering landfills. - from Comfy Cotton's anniversary press release

The following is excerpted from my interview with Sergio in honor of the occasion of their 25th anniversary...

2nd generation Comfy Cotton customer at anniversary celebration Why did you start the business?

We had a customer who started Comfy Cotton but had no idea about laundering. She hired us to wash the diapers and when her babies were potty trained she was not interested in the business any longer. By then, I was "infected" with the "environment virus". I believe that disposable diapers are unhealthy for the baby and an aberration to the environment. The following are some of the reasons: 

1.Health: Through several studies disposables have been linked to asthma, infertility and allergies. There were far less rashes 35 years ago than today. 
2.Environment: Think that all the disposables manufactured in the last 35 or so years are still in the landfills. The very few that are being "recycled" doesn't stop the damage caused by manufacturing them. You still need all the natural resources to make them.
3.Economics: Babies are potty trained earlier using reusables than using disposables, as they are aware when they are soiled. Six to eight months earlier. 

What role has cloth diaper education played in your business?

Education is a very important part in our success. I would love to have more resources to make people aware that reusable diapers exist. In my experience, very few parents are aware of it. We are supported by many different organizations (RDA, La Leche League Canada, RDIA, etc) and send brochures and information to Doulas, Obstetricians and Health Facilities.

How do you participate in your local community?

We are constantly striving to educate new parents in our community.

  • With social media being as prominent as it is, we have recently added a Facebook and Twitter account to our business, thus helping to try and spread the word about cloth diapers and the impact of disposables.
  • We also advocate and participate  in local events that are happening in the communities we serve (such as The Great Cloth Diaper Change) and publish informational monthly newsletters.
  • We also continue to make several donations each year to not-for-profit organizations, both locally and worldwide. Some of our diapers have ended up in places like Kenya, Mexico and Guatemala!

What are the biggest changes you've seen in the cloth diapering community over the years?

Today's society and government put more emphasis on 'recycling', not 're-using' and 'reducing' - therefore sending out the message that disposables are okay, as they are recycled in many green bin programs throughout Toronto. What many people do not know, is that only a partial amount of a disposable is actually recycled, the rest ends up in landfill.

Comfy Cotton serves parts of Greater Toronto and beyond. Find a cloth diaper service in your community.


Cotton Prefolds and Yeast: Initial Results

Project intern, Liam, running tests under the oversight of Liz, our volunteer microbiologist.

A few months ago, the Real Diaper Association began our first phase of scientific experiments designed to determine the best way to treat cloth diapers in the presence of a yeast infection.  

We have been fortunate to work with a fantastic team of volunteers, including two prominent mycologists, one specifically studying Candida albicans at her university lab, a (cloth diapering) microbiologist, and a high school intern who has eagerly learned the ins and outs of sterile technique and working with yeast.

Since we've gotten a lot of questions about our status, I decided to share our initial results, with the expectation that we'll continue to publish interim updates as we learn more.

1. First, we put yeast on a number of cloth diaper samples using a variety of application methods, then ran them through a series of washing processes.

Sometimes we applied the yeast to wet or dry diapers directly from the plates they were growing on. Sometimes we applied them in a solution of apple juice-sweetened oatmeal to approximate a fecal medium on which yeast might grow in diapers. We left the diapers in containers to mimic diaper pail conditions and washed them at various temperatures with and without detergent, sometimes drying and sometimes retesting them right out of the washing machine.

No yeast grew on any plates that had been swabbed with cleaned diapers.

2. Based on those results, we needed to figure out if we were using enough yeast to make it through the dilution expected in the washing machine.  Therefore, we calculated the ratio of yeast to water and tried to play with the dilution levels in test tubes.

Here we had no problem growing yeast even further diluted than expected in a washing machine, meaning that the amount of yeast we were using was, in fact, sufficient.

These results lead to the conclusion that live yeast does not remain on 100% cotton prefolds through a wash cycle.

It IS possible that yeast remains on other cloth diapering fabrics.  And there are a number of further tests we're planning, as described in our initial project outline.  

To learn more, or to support our work by helping us procure the additional materials necessary to continue to run the tests, please visit the project webpage.

- Heather McNamara
Executive Director, Real Diaper Association


RDA Member Profile: Rachel Lawson

Rachel is one of our oldest individual members, and has been supporting the Real Diaper Association since 2006. I recently conducted the following interview to learn about what she's seen related to cloth diapers over the past 7+ years.

Family with baby

Q: Why did you start using cloth diapers? Where did you hear about them?
A: It was my mom who first told me about cloth diapers. I was cloth diapered as baby, but back then the only diaper options were flat diapers with pins. When my mom and I talked about cloth diapers we both assumed that that was my only option, and even then I was fully on board. It wasn't until my first visit to the midwife that I discovered other cloth diaper types existed. She had a fitted diaper displayed in her waiting room (Crickett's Diapers) so I went looking online and that was the first brand of cloth diaper that I purchased. 

Q: What year did you first use cloth diapers? Where did you get them?
A: I started using cloth diapers in 2006 (Feb 2006), although I started purchasing them at the end of 2005. My first round of cloth diapers I purchased all online. Mostly Crickett’s diapers and some “unknown” brand off of eBay. I also bought some gently used Kissaluvs newborn size from eBay. My daughter was born in Naples, FL and I did not know of any stores in our area that carried cloth diapers. When she was 5 weeks old we moved to East Lansing, MI. I was able to find a few stores in the Lansing/Ann Arbor area that carried cloth diapers. That is where I found FuzziBunz (which is the majority of my cloth diaper supply). 

Baby wearing a cloth diaper

 

Q: Have you noticed any changes in the availability of cloth diapers? 
A: Most definitely. We moved back to Naples, FL in 2011 and I now have two stores in my city that carry cloth diapers (there could be more but that is all I have found so far). I have  also seen them at larger store like Target. There is also a larger selection of online stores that carry them now too.

Q: Did you use the same diapers on both of your children? Why or why not?
A. For the most part I did use the same cloth diapers on all three of my children. The only ones I did not were the diapers that fell apart. My FuzziBunz made it through all three kids. Sadly my Crickett's diapers only made it through two kids and they were no longer usable. For my third child I had a pretty good supply from the first two and I did not purchase any additional diapers for him. 

Q: Have you supported any friends or family in using cloth diapers?
A: Yes, I have two friends that cloth diaper and I gave them tips about cloth diapering. In addition, I knit them some wool soakers to use over the cloth diapers. We swear by wool soakers, they really do help create and nice barrier between the diaper and the clothes. In fact, I used to teach a soaker knitting class at a yarn shop that I worked in. I was able to discuss cloth diapering quite a bit with customers and people that took my class. 

Baby wearing a cloth diaper

Q: Why do you continue to support the Real Diaper Association?A: I continue to support the Real Diaper Association because they believe as I do that babies deserve to wear real diapers. They assist members and local circles in spreading the word about cloth diapering. In addition there are great resource materials on the website and in the newsletters.

Want to add YOUR support to the Real Diaper Association? Individual memberships start at $25: http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/directory/signup.php


Pañales ecologicos y más

At Eugenia's store, Zona Kids

In Oaxaca City, Mexico for three weeks with my family to study Spanish, of COURSE I was excited when I came across a store with a sign advertising Pañales Ecologicos. I knew it HAD to be cloth diapers - - and I was right!!

Maria Eugenia has been selling them in her store, Zona Kids, for 3 years. She sells the ecopipo brand, which is manufactured here in Mexico. Of COURSE, I gave her my card and invited her to participate in the Great Cloth Diaper Change next year!

Delfina selling her organic clothing at El Pochote market

Knowing my interest in cloth diapers, Eugenia "kidnapped" me for a tour of a couple of other local places she thought I'd like, too. The first was an organic market where we spent a while talking to the woman selling organic clothes and other products. She told me about the natural plants and insects (cochinillas) they use for dyes.

Pancho Leyva Garcia weaving a king-size blanket

After an intermediate stop to get some chapulines (chili, salt, and lime-covered grasshoppers) and Oaxacan sweets at one of the markets, we headed to another neighborhood, Xochimilco, where we got to watch a local family of weavers who still weave on these huge manual looms that they built themselves.  The loom seemed so complicated with all these pulleys that he was manipulating, but the blanket that I could see was just beautiful!

It's so inspiring to see the devotion to organic and natural fibers and sustainable production happening all around the world. What a great opportunity to see it here in Oaxaca!

Heather McNamara
Executive Director, Real Diaper Association


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