Wednesday, December 7, 2011

In Support of Jennifer Labit's Open Letter to the RDIA

Jennfier Labit, founder of Cotton Babies most commonly known for it's popular Bum Genius Diaper, once again addressed an interesting issue in the cloth diapering community. She wrote an open letter to the RDIA (Real Diaper Industry Association) Board of Directors, asking them to reconsider a clause that excludes businesses that manufacture disposable options from membership. I found her post to be very informative and thought-provoking and I started to craft a comment, then decided to write a letter in support of Jennifer's stance to the RDIA instead.

Dear RDIA Board of Directors,

I appreciate how Jennifer Labit utilizes her blog to discuss important issues in the cloth diapering community in a thoughtful and compelling way. I read her open letter encouraging inclusion of manufacturers of disposable options in your organization. This afternoon, I would like to address this same issue and share why I support including these businesses in the RDIA as well.

While I choose to primarily use cloth only options for diapering, I do so not only for environmental reasons, but also because I am budget conscious. I recognize that others care just as much about the environment, but choose to use disposable options for reasons of convenience, family member preferences, day care, as well as travel. In a perfect world, families would solely use cloth diapers, but the industry needs to recognize that a variety of families use cloth, both full and part time, and work to engage this diverse audience.

I believe that the cloth diapering community can sometimes mistakenly get caught up in the mantra of "cloth only" as the sole viable choice and alienate individuals. This creates a missed opportunity where families who are interested in choosing cloth diapers even part time can make an important impact. Their use of cloth helps expose their communities to cloth diapers and is better for the environment than choosing disposables alone.

We know that the modern cloth diaper industry offers a wide variety of brands, styles, and price points to meet just about an family's needs. Cloth-only attitudes can become barriers to a wider audiences discovering  the ease and benefits of cloth, however, by perpetuating the myth that cloth is only for extremists and die hard enthusiasts. Disposable options encourage people to consider cloth diapers who might feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the idea of only using cloth. In my experience, people are much more open to cloth diapers when they have real-life experience using them and disposable options invite a broader range of individuals to give cloth a try.

Clearly, the RDIA membership should be comprised of businesses and manufacturers that are committed to promoting cloth diapering as affordable, environmentally friendly, and easy to use. Their primary goal should be to educate individuals and families about the benefits of cloth and to make cloth diapers readily available. Disposable options should not be the bulk of their business or their primary focus.

I believe that the exclusion of companies such as Cotton Babies, Grovia, or Charlie Banana that offer a hybrid system would be a serious error on the part of the RDIA, however. These innovative companies are important contributors to the cloth diapering community. Their products have real potential to reach diverse audiences and broaden the reach of cloth diapering. They are clearly committed to helping cloth become a mainstream option and promoting cloth diapers as a viable choice for families.

It is my hope that one day in the near future it will be common to see the majority of new mothers weighing the choice between cloth and disposables. Since I started cloth diapering nearly two years ago, I've already had the privilege of seeing this happen with some of my friends. If cloth diapers are to once again become a larger part of mainstream culture, however, I believe that the industry will need to embrace hybrid choices and move forward with an open mind to innovative options.


Dakotapam said...

Excellent. I use cloth, and I have for 5 out of the six of my kids. However, sometimes the convenience of paper diapers wins out. For example, our family is currently fighting rotavirus, and I am thankful for disposables for my twin toddlers. I have enough laundry to do as it is, and there is no getting that smell out of anything. Thank you for making sure mothers have many options!

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