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Looking forward - 2013 Annual Meeting Report

Last week, we held the Real Diaper Association annual meeting via conference call. The first order of business was to vote in our newest volunteer board members, Rachel Dove and Sara Moore. Rachel and Sara are both accredited Real Diaper Circle Leaders in San Diego, CA and the Lehigh Valley, PA, respectively. Both are cloth diaper retailers who have been involved with cloth diaper advocacy and education for years.

Rachel Dove

Rachel Dove is my co-leader in our local San Diego Real Diaper Circle, so I've had the opportunity to see her build our community to nearly a thousand current members through regular meetings and personal attention on our online forum.  She also owns Rock Easy Diaper Company, a retailer of cloth diapers and more natural products for the home and family.

Sara Moore

I've had the opportunity to work with Sara Moore through the Real Diaper Industry Association, where she is also active in advancing the work of the cloth diaper industry.  She owns Ju-Ju Monkey, where she sells cloth diapers and other natural care products.

We're thrilled to have our new Board members jump right in to help on various committees and set direction for the organization that will best serve our constituents!

Speaking of that direction, in the annual meeting, we also set goals for the organization for the coming year. We determined these goals by assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, then closely examining the opportunities and threats in the current environment. Much of this information comes from our members, so we sincerely appreciate the contact you make with us to help us best determine how to advance the movement. Here are the goal areas we identified, with committees formed to better define each specific goal, then develop and implement plans to meet the goal:

 

Hospitals Project (multi-year) - Just as formula companies like to reach parents in the hospital to improve brand trust and recognition, so disposable diaper companies value placement and use in maternity wards. To empower new parents to use cloth diapers, hospitals should be encouraged to educate and support parents in prenatal classes and in the hours after birth.

Research - responsive research to answer questions regarding yeast and cloth diapers to improve evidence-based laundry recommendations.

Volunteers - develop a process to engage and use volunteers across a broad spectrum of possible activities more quickly

Fundraising - need to raise $30,000 income in the coming year, through the Great Cloth Diaper Change, member recruitment and retention, and/or other campaigns/grants.

 

If you have any questions about our overall direction or any of our specific goals, please don't hesitate to ask!

Heather McNamara
Executive Director, Real Diaper Association


More cloth diapers in hospitals...

Photo courtesy of Tina Whobrey

A couple of years ago, a group of Real Diaper Association volunteers were inspired to get cloth diapers back into hospital maternity wards. Besides reducing waste at the hospitals, getting cloth diapers onto babies from the beginning, with the tacit approval of the doctors and nurses, seemed to be an important step to returning to mainstream use of cloth diapers.

It turns out their instincts had research support. In 2003, the University of Surrey released a study (Uzzell & Leach, 2003) demonstrating the positive impact of introducing cloth diapers to parents in prenatal classes and on the maternity ward in a hospital.

Project goals and objectives

--1-- Research and publicize the data informing decisions about using cloth diapers in hospital maternity wards so that other hospitals will be able to make similar decisions.

--2-- Implement a grassroots campaign to advocate for cloth diapers in hospitals

--3-- Raise awareness of cloth diapers at the prenatal level. Based on research, the earlier parents are introduced to cloth diapers, the more likely they are to use them.  

Even if maternity wards don't use cloth diapers, new parents should still have access to information about cloth diapers included in hospital prenatal parenting classes.

Several committees at the RDA Board level will be focusing on this project - - the Volunteers Committee, where we'll be training and managing the volunteers to work on the project, the Research Committee, which will guide the investigation into current practices, and the Communications Committee, which will create the internet repository where we'll collect and share the collected data.  To coordinate all the moving parts, we'll have a Steering Committee guide the project, which will likely take 18 months to complete as designed.

Want to help? We're organizing volunteers now! Please email me at heatherm at realdiaperassociation dot org.

Heather McNamara
Executive Director, Real Diaper Association


The 2013 GCDC sets a new Guinness World Record!

It’s official! The 2013 Great Cloth Diaper Change (GCDC) set a new Guinness World Record of 8,301 babies changed into cloth diapers at one time.

The record was set on April 20, 2013 when participants around the globe gathered at 11:00 am local time to change babies into a 100% reusable cloth diaper. We achieved this goal with the hard work and dedication of 182 GCDC hosts in 20 countries around the world. Great Cloth Diaper Change events were held in: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Finland, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We are thrilled with the global reach of the GCDC and very proud of all of our dedicated GCDC Hosts.

The overall numbers for the GCDC, which include events that did not qualify per the stringent Guinness regulations, are 266 events total with 10,029 babies changed. 

That’s a lot of babies showing the world that cloth diapers are a viable option and a smart diapering choice for modern families. The GCDC brings together a diverse group of families, many of whom already use cloth diapers daily, but we also have plenty of participants that have never used a reusable diaper before the event. Regardless of their prior experience with cloth diapers, everyone tells us that the fun and positive nature of the GCDC helps motivate them to continue cloth diapering their children.

Get Involved

Help us keep the momentum going throughout the year by sharing your enthusiasm for cloth diapers with your friends, family and community. As the coordinators of the GCDC, we at the Real Diaper Association (RDA) hope that the connections made on April 20th are maintained throughout the year in local diaper circles, education outreach and cloth diaper advocacy. Every connection makes a difference. The Great Cloth Diaper Change showcases cloth diapers on an international stage, but it's your daily choice to use cloth diapers and share your knowledge within your community that keeps spreading the word from family to family. Together we can show the world that cloth diapers are easy, accessible and fun.

-Michelle Dominguez

Event Coordinator, Real Diaper Association

For more information on the Great Cloth Diaper Change, visit our website at http://greatclothdiaperchange.com

 


The Zen of Hanging and Folding Diapers

I received this email following the publication of a news article about the Great Cloth Diaper Change and thought it added some dimensions of cloth diaper benefits we often neglect to recognize.  Read on for the details...

Hi- I read about your organization in the Gainesville (Florida) Sun this morning. I'm delighted such a group exists.

I used cloth diapers exclusively for my only child who was born in 1988. I was the only mother I knew using them. I've read many reasons lots of mothers and fathers prefer them, but I've never read my own reasons, so I decided to share them with you. 

- 1- I washed my son's diapers in my washing machine, but hung them outside to dry. I loved looking at them flapping in the breeze and bleaching in the sunshine. They smelled glorious, too.

- 2- I found hanging diapers to be great exercise, and folding and smoothing them was very therapeutic in terms of giving me a wonderful sense of calm.

- 3- Babies in cloth diapers are very huggable. The covers I used were cotton, also, so there was no crackling or synthetic feel.

- 4- Maybe I was just lucky, but I tend to think babies wearing cloth potty train at an earlier age than those in disposables that wick away all the liquid and store it in a glob of gel. I suspect they don't like feeling wet. My son was completely out of diapers at 17 months old. (I missed my folding, but I have a tall stack of twenty-five-year-old polishing cloths in frequent use that remind me of those good times.)

I had only one child, so I didn't get the added financial benefit of reuse for siblings, and none of my peers or relatives were interested in duplicating my happy experience with cloth diapers. How sad that seems to me.

Mary Tracy
Bronson, Florida

Mary's son is now 25 and engaged to be married. Perhaps she'll be able to use her cloth diapers on a grandchild in the future!


Behind the Scenes: Great Cloth Diaper Change, Lawrenceville, KS.

As we wait for final ratification of the 2013 Guinness World Record, I spoke with one of our qualifying hosts, Megan Blair Bost about her GCDC event. Please read on as she shares her ideas for building community through the GCDC while hosting an inexpensive, low key event.

You hosted a Guinness qualifying event in a small town. Can you share with us how you successfully reached the minimum 25 participants?

This is my second year hosting a GCDC event. The first year I recruited a lot of friends, many of whom did not even use cloth diapers, to help us reach 25. This year, I didn’t recruit many friends since I knew we were going to make the minimum. I hung about 10 flyers around town, but the rest of our promotions came through community connections. We had 38 qualifying adult/baby pairs this year, only 8 of whom participated last year. The 30 new attendees heard about us through word of mouth. We have a strong Facebook community of local mommy groups. There was a lot of cross-posting about the event between different groups and our own GCDC page.

How does the GCDC event help cloth diapering families build community and connect with non-cloth users?

There’s a big group of families that use cloth in our town but we don’t have formal meetings or a diaper circle in our area. This is our only opportunity to get together, socialize, and talk about our shared passion for cloth diapers. I organize the event like a play date with a bunch of people doing the same thing as you, qualifying for the Guinness World Record is an added boost. After our event this year, we did an informal poll of our participants. We asked them whether swag bags and extras were motivating factors for their participation or not. A surprising 85% said they were mostly there to talk to cloth diapering parents and share their passion for cloth diapers with others.

I am happy to hear such positive responses from your participants. How did you boost excitement for your event without freebies and vendor booths?

You do not need a big budget, and a lot of extra stuff like swag bags and freebies to hold a successful GCDC event. The best advice I have is to get people involved. Our event feels special because our participants are invested in the process. They helped with the planning, found door prizes and had family members that were official witnesses.

With all this community involvement, were you able to host the event without a big financial investment?

I put some of my own money up, but we did prepay shirt orders and sold tote bags to recoup costs. We also had several families donate to help with costs so we almost broke even. Snacks were donated by my mom this year. I encourage Hosts to use the manufacturer offers. It’s a great way to get free stuff, especially if there is not a brick and mortar store in your area. If you can find a free space to host the event, that is a big money saver. I think the monetary involvement can seem overwhelming for independent hosts but there are ways to make it work.

-Michelle Dominguez

Event Coordinator, Real Diaper Association

For more information on the Great Cloth Diaper Change, visit our website at http://greatclothdiaperchange.com


Behind the Scenes: Great Cloth Diaper Change Campbell, CA

The GCDC is tomorrow! This week I spoke with the person behind the big idea, Judy Aagard, of Tiny Tots. Judy has been an advocate of natural fiber diapers since 1966 and she shared her thoughts on the bigger picture for Hosts in the final stages of planning for the big day.

Can you give us some background of how the GCDC was started?

I thought of the idea for the Great Cloth Diaper Change originally as a fun activity for our customers. At first I wasn’t even thinking beyond Tiny Tots. After I registered to do the event with Guinness, it dawned on me that the GCDC could be so much bigger than our location. I reached out to nine other people in the cloth diaper movement, and asked if they wanted to help me. Everyone did and we formed the 2011 organizing committee. After the first successful year, it became obvious that an organization like the Real Diaper Association (RDA) would need to take over the event if we wanted it to continue. RDA was the perfect fit for the GCDC.

I love how such a simple idea has grown into an international event. Your original idea has blossomed into so much more. With all the success, I’m curious why you chose to hold a non-qualifying event this year.

I decided to hold a non-record breaking event this year because I thought it might afford more opportunity to have a broader reach for cloth diaper advocacy. There are so many limitations on events that wish to qualify for The Guinness World Record. We thought we’d try holding an event without a lot of rules and regulations this year. I understand that the rules are necessary to set the World Record but it’s nice to be able to give our participants so much more flexibility this year.

What has the response been like from your participants regarding the different event this year?

Some of our returning participants have questioned why we are not attempting to break the World Record this year. I let them know of the many things we can do since we’re not participating in the Guinness attempt. We can allow more diaper options for participants, and we’re flexible on the time. People will be able to change their baby at any time during the hours of our event. We’re holding a low key event. We’ll have different experts on hand to help participants with questions regarding cloth diaper usage, home laundering, managing cloth as working parents, daycare, and other natural parenting topics. We’ll have plenty of supplies on hand to provide participants with diapers if they need and we’re hoping to reach families that are not using cloth diapers yet.

So by holding a non-qualifying event, you are able to focus entirely on outreach and community building?

Yes! Participating in the GCDC may not be the one thing that causes someone to switch to cloth but everything we do builds momentum. Even in the planning process, we reach a lot of people and show that cloth is a viable option. This year we’re focusing entirely on the goal of cloth diaper advocacy. Every little touch counts!

-Michelle Dominguez

Event Coordinator, Real Diaper Association

For more information on the Great Cloth Diaper Change, visit our website at http://greatclothdiaperchange.com


2012 Real Diaper Association Annual Report

As we approach our annual meeting, held in April/May, we've completed our annual report showing the impact the Real Diaper Association had within and beyond the cloth diapering community in 2012.  Here are some excerpts from the introduction.

Our volunteers:

Ultimately, the Real Diaper Association is an organization full of people who help other people achieve the benefits of using reusable cloth diapers.  This is why people join our organization - - they recognize the power of working together toward our shared goal! Any review of our work involves recognizing our volunteers, including the Board of Directors, accredited Real Diaper Circle Leaders, Leaders in Training, hosts of the Great Cloth Diaper Change, and our donor members and social media connections, all of whom are spreading the word and supporting their friends and family in finding and using reusable cloth diapers.

Our impact:

Working together, we are having a powerful impact:

Our future:

The Real Diaper Association is tracking and responding to the findings of studies regarding the interaction of Millennials with nonprofit organizations.  Instead of sending their annual renewable membership donations, Millennials are more likely to give in the form of volunteering, allowing their money to follow their effort.  The Great Cloth Diaper Change is a great design to reach these constituents and conduct education and fundraising at the same time.  We will continue to explore other funding sources as we partner with other organizations to spread our message about reusable cloth diapers.

Each year, we set new goals at our Annual Meeting in April.  This year, we have the benefit of guiding information in the form of results of our 2012 Great Cloth Diaper Survey of 6550 current cloth diapering parents.  The preview from our End of Year meeting includes these likely candidates for 2013 goals:

- increasing volunteer opportunities across the organization,

scientific studies related properly washing cloth diapers in the presence of a yeast infection, and

- a new website to better communicate with our constituents.

How can you help? Volunteer or donate today! Click here for the full annual report.

- Heather McNamara

Executive Director, Real Diaper Association


Behind the Scenes: Great Cloth Diaper Change, Beerse, Belgium

In this installment of our weekly conversations with Great Cloth Diaper Change Hosts, we talk with Winona van Eck, of EngeltjeBengeltje.com. Winona hosted her first event in Belgium last year and is participating on the overall 2013 GCDC Organizing Committee this year.

We are thrilled to have so much international participation in the GCDC. You’ve been very helpful in organizing events in your region, please share with us the status of GCDC events in Belgium and The Netherlands.

I live in Belgium near the Dutch (The Netherlands) border, and I am organizing two locations, one in Beerse, Belgium, and I’m helping a friend host a location in Breda, The Netherlands. We have 7 locations total in Belgium, which is a big increase from 3 in 2012! The Netherlands has 4 locations in different parts of the country. This year there’s a lot of cooperation between hosts. We’re sharing all our ideas, tips and tricks and we mention each other in our media coverage. Right now we are working on getting GCDC coverage on a national TV show.

 

Is it challenging to organize an international event like this?

It’s definitely challenging! But I feel extra motivation because the GCDC is an international event. I want to engage as many people as possible and the international character makes it easier to get media coverage.

How common is it for people to use cloth diapers in your area?

In Belgium it’s still not very common to use cloth diapers. Most people do not know anything about the modern cloth diaper. People interested in minimizing their ecological footprint find their way to cloth diapers, but sadly that’s still a very small group of parents. I do notice that if one family uses cloth diapers, other young parents in their circle are more likely to make the switch. I’ve made it my mission to inform parents-to-be about the advantages of cloth. I own an online cloth diaper shop, and I try to promote cloth diapers by convincing people to look at the financial advantages and the ease of use. It’s not always easy, but it’s a very rewarding job!

What is the most rewarding aspect about hosting a GCDC event?

I enjoy the enthusiasm of the participants. It’s rewarding to talk with the people who aren’t using cloth diapers yet, and get them interested to try cloth. The cooperation with other cloth diaper advocates is great and I love the fact that cloth diapers get so much positive attention!

Does the chance to break a Guinness World Record get people excited in your community?

It definitely helps that the event is an official Guinness World Record attempt, especially for media coverage. For most participants it’s a nice extra. I find that for sponsors it’s not specifically important because they are mostly seeking regional attention.

What advice do you have for international and new GCDC hosts?

The last two weeks are still a good time to reach new participants! If you’re an international host, give your own cultural ‘sign’ to the event and link the international character in your media outreach. Maybe you don’t have that many locations in your country (yet), but every location is important! Even if you don’t reach the minimum of 25, there's still the unofficial count. Have fun!
-Michelle Dominguez

Event Coordinator, Real Diaper Association

For more information on the Great Cloth Diaper Change, visit our website at http://greatclothdiaperchange.com


Behind the Scenes: Great Cloth Diaper Change, South Bend, IN

Do you have a Real Diaper Circle in your area? Are you thinking of starting one? Jen Starks, owner of Ecological Babies, did, and this week she talks about the GCDC and the importance of local cloth diaper advocacy.

This will be your second year hosting a GCDC event, what is different this time around?

The first year I had nightmares the week before the event because I was so worried about having the minimum number of participants to qualify for the Guinness World Record.  Luckily five minutes before the official start, our photographer pitched in and helped us make the record. This year I’m much more relaxed. I realized I don’t need to over think things and I’m having more fun. I’m also less concerned about exposure for my diaper business because I’m more established now. My primary goal this year is to spread the word about cloth diapers and this is how I’m gauging my success.

 

Real Diaper Circles and the GCDC are the primary means for carrying out the cloth diaper advocacy mission of the Real Diaper Association. How did you become interested in starting a Diaper Circle in your area?

I was moved to start a Diaper Circle after my first time hosting the GCDC last year. I had just relocated to South Bend, IN and I discovered there were not many good places in town for like minded people to connect and build community. The Diaper Circle helps to build camaraderie. Our meetings are low key, and held in the public library. As a circle leader, I also offer cloth diaper demonstrations at Memorial Regional Hospital of South Bend. My goal as a circle leader is to provide a much needed resource to parents who have never before seen or considered using cloth diapers.

How does your involvement as a Real Diaper Circle leader help you organize your GCDC event?

The Diaper Circle continues the conversation started with the GCDC and the monthly support groups keep participants connected throughout the year. I have been lucky because my work as a circle leader helped me to get valuable support from the hospital this year. After I became a circle leader, I began offering cloth diaper demonstrations during the hospital’s monthly open house events for expecting parents. I built a rapport with the Bradley child birth instructor and I taught nurses how to use cloth diapers. The response was overwhelmingly positive and I was offered an opportunity to hold the Southbend GCDC event in conjunction with a baby fair the hospital is sponsoring. This is a huge help to me. The hospital has an established media and promotions team that is handling all of my media outreach. Our presence at the baby fair provides a unique opportunity to broach the topic of cloth diapers during a mainstream event.

It sounds like you are going to have a very rewarding and successful event. What advice do you have to share with new GCDC hosts this year?

Enjoy the day!

-Michelle Dominguez

Event Coordinator, Real Diaper Association

For more information on the Great Cloth Diaper Change, visit our website at http://greatclothdiaperchange.com


Behind the scenes: Great Cloth Diaper Change Knoxville

In this installment of our weekly conversations with Great Cloth Diaper Change Hosts, we talk with Mary Rodio, of Fluff n’ Stuff Natural Parenting Store, and third time host of GCDC, Knoxville.  Like many of our veteran Hosts, Mary’s event has grown exponentially since 2011 and she’s expecting 2013 to be their biggest year yet.

You set an impressive goal of 150 babies changed this year. How are you planning to reach it?

We are organizing the Knoxville Natural Parenting Expo along with the GCDC to generate more event traffic. The Expo helps us reach people who may be unfamiliar with cloth diapers and natural parenting. Our goal is 500 Expo attendees in addition to 150 GCDC participants.

How will you accommodate such a large number of participants this year?

We are renting the Knoxville Convention Center. Our sponsorship packages and vendor pricing offset our rental fees. Fluff n’ Stuff Natural Parenting Store sponsors the GCDC event and the Lisa Roth Birth & Women’s Center sponsors the Natural Parenting Expo. We recognize our sponsors in all media promotions and communications about the events, and we include them on all event signage, banners and flyers. Sponsorship also helps us keep our vendor pricing reasonable so that we can offer space to local vendors and WAHM businesses. This year we will have 30 different vendors.

You have a strong online presence for your event. What suggestions do you have for new hosts and those who are trying to strengthen their online promotions?

Keep your Facebook page active and engage with your audience! We have a few behind-the-scenes volunteers working on the event page. Someone is always able to respond to posts and keep our page fresh on the news feed. Also, talk about more than just the event. We share usage information, talk about our favorite diapers, and post pictures of our babies in cloth diapers. Cloth diaper advocacy is important. Our goal is to show parents who are new to cloth diapers that there are more options available than the “plastic pants and pins” they might imagine.

With all your vendors, sponsorships, and community outreach, you must have a full goody bag this year. What advice would you give new hosts regarding giveaways?

Honestly, I want new hosts to know that prizes, vendors and sponsorship backing aren’t critical to a successful event. You can offset a lack of giveaways by playing up the community connection. Pull on the heart strings of your local activists and concentrate on making personal connections.

Connections are definitely important, what tips can you share for business hosts wishing to maximize connections with their participants?

In this era of searching for the best online deal, it’s the personal connection that will bring people to you. Show your passion and maintain a connection with your participants throughout the year. Your enthusiasm is contagious. Your customers could go to Amazon, but they won’t get the advice and encouragement you can offer. Support their efforts and they’ll support you.

- Michelle Dominguez

Event Coordinator, Real Diaper Association

For more information on the Great Cloth Diaper Change, visit our website at http://greatclothdiaperchange.com


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