Posted by: Amanda | May 26, 2011

Flats and Handwashing Challenge: Day IV, Flats Math

Today I felt almost like we were falling into a groove – like using flats and hand washing could be the new norm around our home. There was even a brief period of time during Joshua’s nap in which every diaper in the house was clean except for the one he was wearing! I’ll post more on my experiences later this week. Instead of the format that I have been following so far this week, today I decided to crunch the numbers so that we can all get a better idea of just how much using flats and hand washing could help people financially.

It came to my attention earlier today that Kimberly Clark, and their Huggies brand of disposable diapers is re-launching their Every Little Bottom campaign this week. The premise behind the program is essentially the same as what is driving the Flats and Handwashing Challenge:  to help low-income families with diapering their babies, though the means is drastically different by which the end result is achieved in each.

In 2010, Huggies said that they were able to help donate 22.5 million disposable diapers to families in need. Using their figure of one baby using an average of eight diapers per day, this adds up to 7,300 disposable diapers per child over two and a half years of diapering. This means that Huggies, and any of the donations that it has garnered, has essentially helped to diaper 3,082 babies over the course of their time in diapers. Putting the average cost of a disposable diaper at $0.25 (I know that the number can be higher or lower – depending on sales, etc. – but I think it’s a fair price to use for my figures), this means that approximately $5,625,000 was donated to diapering babies through the program in 2010.

Next, I’m going to be generous and figure that a family who is using flats and hand washing their diapers has spent $100 on diapers, covers, and other cloth diapering accessories. I’m also going to figure that it costs about $200 for the detergent* that will be required to clean those diapers over the course of two and a half years. I am not considering water costs in my figures, because there are no washers or dryers in the Flats and Handwashing Challenge, and most people without those tend to live in apartments, and apartments, at least in my area of the country, include the cost of water in rent.  Thus, it would cost about $300 total to diaper a child from birth to potty training at two and a half years, following the principles of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge.

How many babies would that same $5,625,000 mentioned above diaper following the rules of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge?

A staggering 18,750 babies! That’s over six times as many babies diapered in cloth as the disposable diapers could do for the same amount of money. And that’s just by using the cloth diapers on one baby. The cloth diapers would likely be able to be used on multiple children, resulting in an even larger number of babies diapered.

I know that the cloth diapering community does not have the same kind of big money behind it as the disposable diaper companies do, but we can make a difference – and our money goes much, much further. Especially when you consider that cloth diapering is a skill, and that the knowledge can be passed among families.  I encourage you to check out Giving Diapers, Giving Hope, a not for profit organization which provides education, support and cloth diapers to low income families in all the continental United States.

* Some of the math for this post comes from my calculations done last year in my Cost of Cloth vs. Disposables post.

Just in case you were curious, the totals for today:

Number of diapers used: 9.
Number of covers used: 3.


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