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Diaper banks spreading

"Diaper need." It's a catchy phrase for not being able to afford enough baby diapers. For many families, it's also a small, but significant factor in the downward spiral of poverty.

A donation of 20,000 diapers from Huggies to the DC Diaper Bank.

Kai Ryssdal: One of the things Congressman Paul Ryan's budget proposes to cut government spending is change the way the social safety net works. Medicaid, food stamps, those kinds of things.

Dirty diapers aren't often mentioned in the same breath as social safety net. Think about what happens, though, if you need 'em -- but you can't afford 'em.

From Washington, Elizabeth Wynne Johnson has the story, one poopy diaper at a time.


Elizabeth Wynne Johnson: Six-week-old Daniel puts away a lot of milk. It's fuel he'll need.

Daniela Maria Leggett: 'Cause I'm going to be tall, and have big hands and feet just like my grandpa and play basketball.

Until then, what goes in must come out. Which means Daniel's mom, Daniela Maria Leggett, changes diapers.

Leggett: A whole lot. I think he has like four dirty diapers a day. We run out of diapers so much.

We're at the Northwest Center, which offers counseling and assistance to low-income families in Washington, D.C. Daniela says she doesn't know how she'd manage without the free diapers she gets here each month.

Neither does Natalia Diaz-Minaya. Even buying in bulk, diapers are expensive.

Natalia Diaz-Minaya: Maybe a box would cost me about $45. And I use about two, two-and-a-half boxes per month.

Programs like food stamps and WIC don't cover diapers. Corinne Cannon and her husband stumbled onto this problem a couple years ago.

Corinne Cannon: We started calling organizations and saying, 'What do you need? Can we give you time? Can we give you money? What do you need?' And we heard over and over again, to our complete surprise, 'We need diapers.'

She started DC Diaper Bank, one of only about 40 in the country. But they're about to a very big boost from a national network for diaper banks and a long-established children's charity, plus a donation of $20 million Huggies diapers.

Through this new partnership, diaper bankers will be able to tap into the outreach of many more organizations. For its part, Huggies will get brand recognition and goodwill.

Corinne Cannon: 20 million diapers will eventually be used because we know babies go through diapers fast. But what we will have is the awareness that was raised around this issue. Folks will know that food stamps don't pay for diapers. And they'll think about it longer-term.

In Washington, I'm Elizabeth Wynne Johnson for Marketplace.

A donation of 20,000 diapers from Huggies to the DC Diaper Bank.

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This report kind of made me angry. Yes, I like that people get access to things they really need, but there is a way cheaper solution and in my opinion much more environmentally friendly. Cloth diapers: Cloth is great. Way cheaper than disposables. We bought about 25 and didn't pay more than $400-500. That's about half what people spend every year on disposables. And I calculated it in a spreadsheet. Since unfortunately most are in diapers for at least 2 years that's a lot of savings. Also, people should stop having their kids in diapers for 3+ years. Mine (and he is a boy, for all the non-believers) has been out of diapers since he was 1.5 years. He is 2.5 now. He still wears diapers for sleeping, but he hardly ever pees into them. I just have been too lazy to let him sleep without. Anyway. Cloth is cheap. Better for the skin. Saves our water, because about 90% of all people using disposables do not do what the package says-dispose of the poop in the toilet. This means a lot of poop gets run-off into where ever. Why don't we all start pooping in the trash can? And just think of all the disposables, which don't end up in a landfill. I know there is this debate about cloth that it is not more environmentally friendly than disposables, but I think they are: 1 single diaper lasts for several years, water for washing them=minimal, probably less or equal to manufacturing a disposable. Methods and chemicals to create wood pulp and the plastic for the disposables, don't even want to think about it. Yes, they may use pesticides for growing cotton (unless you buy organic, which is also not that much more expensive), but that's probably equal to the crap they put into disposables. Pollution caused by shipping disposables over and over and over and over again. Babies are out of diapers faster. And cloth has nothing to do with pins anymore. They are just as easy as disposables. There is no soaking involved either, just store in a dry diaper pail until full, then wash. When the baby starts on solids, use a diaper sprayer or nappy liners that flush down the toilet for easy clean up. Instead of donating disposables, why not donate money, old washing machines, cloth diapers, knowledge about cloth diapers? Oh and dryers are a big NO for cloth anyway. In general people should stop using dryers, ruins clothes and wastes a lot of energy. Time investment: I timed it: 5 minutes to put one load in, 5 to hang them up. I think everybody has 10 every 2-3 days. GO CLOTH!!!

The first thing that came to my mind when listening to this report was are the women breast-feeding? Unfortunately rates of breast-feeding are much lower in low-income populations, which is ironic considering the cost of formula.

Proof that not all banks stink. No wait, maybe they do. Kudos to diaper banks - can diaper credit unions be next on the horizon?

oh... and anti-abortion bill supporters should be happy to pay for them. wouldn't they?

Can't they wash? Like back in old days??

To those saying cloth diapers isn't affordable for those who can just throw away $40+ on a box of sposies, I bought 5 cloth diapers for that with inserts and shipping them to my home. My husband is a specialist in the Army and we have 2 school aged kids with a baby on the way, we aren't above poverty level and can afford it! Average out the cost of what people donating sposies are spending and imagine how many reusable diapers could be purchased! I understand not being able to use a laundry mat but washing in a basin or sink is even more economical and you can line dry or even hang on the shower curtain. And most state laws state that as long as the parent provides enough diapers that they can use cloth. Parents just don't ask if they can. People need to be educated and maybe read or go see The Lorax and get the message about what we are doing to our natural resources that makes sposies and the random other things we throw away.

One writer suggested that the poop go into an "organic recycle bin." Not sure what that means, but just to be sure, please no human waste, as well as pets, should be composted. Since we and they eat meat, our waste is unsafe even if subjected to hot composting. With all the suggestions, am surprised that no one said the poop should be scraped off into toilet just like adults, although maybe those adults who think others should pay for their kids' diapers think their poop is too good to go down an ordinary toilet.

"Why not focus on cloth diapers?" This is a common question when people hear about a diaper bank. Cloth diapers are not a real option for many poor families. While cloth diapers may save money in the long term they require an initial investment of money, and an ongoing time investment, that many low-income families cannot afford. In order to use cloth diapers a family must either hire a diaper service at a monthly charge or must have reliable access to laundry facilities. In-home washers and dryers are not a reality for many poor families. Many laundromats prohibit the washing of cloth diapers in their machines for sanitary reasons.

Additionally, the vast majority of daycare centers do not accept cloth diapers. Parents must provide disposable diapers. If a parent cannot afford diapers, they cannot place their child in free/subsidized childcare. Not having diapers can lead to a day of missed work for a parent because their child was turned away from a daycare provider.

DC Diaper Bank,

You say that cloth diapers are not a real option for poor families. How do you think people survived during the Great Depression without the use of Diaper Banks and disposables? Check with state laws because not many will tell you that daycares can refuse a child because they are cloth diapered. They just don't have enough parents asking to use them. Using disposables leads to more rashes and things like bladder infections due. This causes a parent to miss work for doctor appointments or the child care provider refusing to take the child until they are better.

Please educate yourselves better of the pros and cons between cloth and disposables and see which is actually safer and healthier for children as well as the environment. Put the money towards disposables for the needy to something that is actually worth they money instead of wasting it and literally throwing it away.

Cloth Diapers are far more economical, healthier and more environmentally friendly than disposables. They can be washed in the tub or sink, reused and reused, have been statistically proven to cause fewer incidents of heat rash, yeast and UTIs than disposable. Disposables have also been linked to higher incident of reduced veritlity. Thus disposables increase the need for medications which our lowest socio economics can't afford either - not just not affording that washer. Dryer not even needed, use the sun. Each disposable uses one cup of petrolum in its production - yea that stuff we put in our cars. Hows that for helping to solve our energy dependence? Not to mention that you can cloth diaper 2-3 children for $300 or less, yet it cost on average $1500-3000 PER CHILD for disposables. And Yes, I have source material for all that I have said.
So how about not bowing to corporate sponsorship and do a real article on the virtures of cloth diapering?

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