Ethical Shopping Choices: Cloth Diapers

This topic came at a wonderful time because it is something that I’ve noticed in an industry of “green” products is sometimes lacking. As a consumer, I must try hard to retrain myself and almost correct my thoughts to question some deep-help beliefs and notions about what I’ve come to expect from my every day buying choices and interactions with other merchants/retailers.

As a full-time cloth diapering grandma, I am not only a user of cloth diapers but also an affiliate of retailers, and it is so interesting to see both sides of the same issue. I hear a lot of talk (especially on Facebook groups) from other CD-mammas about “The Cheap Diaper .” The question is: “What kind of diaper can I get that doesn’t leak and is cheaper than a name brand .”

Now, I want to state that there is nothing wrong with asking this question. As a consumer, I want the best price for the best product. But as a consumer, I also have to retrain myself to understand that there is no such thing as a free lunch; moreover, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Let me explain. When a person designs an excellent product, let’s say, a cloth diaper that doesn’t leak, that person has to start a company with their state, pay taxes on the business and their income, hire a lawyer, file a patent, secure a manufacturer either in the US or abroad to manufacture their product, pay for the supplies to make their items, undergo a considerable marketing process which includes social media, print, expos, not to mention the cost of their own time away from their children and family dealing with business issues, so on, and so on…the list is massive. This isn’t even a fifth of the things people in this industry have to do to get a product out. YEARS go into making a good reliable product.

Here is the question…How much is all of this worth? Especially when as a consumer, I can join a co-op on Facebook and get a diaper for $4.00. Here is the information on that $4.00 diaper. By purchasing it, you are undercutting the patents of the people who spent years developing the exact product you are using.

Most reputable diaper companies have a lot of trouble ensuring that the factories where their products are made have humane working conditions and provide such things as fair compensation and healthcare for their workers. A great example of this dilemma is Rumparooz. (<– Rumparooz Amazon link)

The inventor of this diaper is a mom, just like the rest of us, and this company has spent a long time making sure that its products are “green” to the fullest extent. Their diapers started out being made in China, but they operated under a Swiss Certificate, which means their workers are protected under European standards. They are salaried employees paid 40% above the European cost of living and provided healthcare, education for their children, and a great workplace, NOT a sweatshop. The diapers and accessories are biodegradable, so even if they end up in a landfill for some reason, they will not harm the environment. Human beings make our diapers-did you know that?

Where are the savings coming from if you are happy to purchase a diaper for $4.00? There is no magic here. If Rumparooz or any other big cloth diaper company could survive by selling a $4.00 diaper, they would! They do not do it because they insist on ETHICAL treatment of their employees here in the states and abroad. They are dedicated to innovation, which takes time and has costs. They use organic and suitable materials for the baby, which have passed rigorous safety testing and are not loaded with harmful chemicals used to dye those cute prints which will go in your baby’s bum.

I hear moms talk about how they just purchased a bunch of diapers from the such-and-such co-op, and they hate them because they are leaky and just plain fall apart quickly. You get what you pay for. Our economy is such that supports this notion. If these cheap diapers were superior, they would put American companies out of business. But they haven’t and won’t because they are selling a sub-standard product. It’s almost like owning a disposable cloth diaper. They leak and do not last.

Many moms say I can’t afford a $25 diaper. I understand that notion, especially in this economy. But there are options like waiting for sales, purchasing seconds, or saving up to buy one good diaper. Trust me; you will get more use out of it in the long run.

In life, there are always options. We choose what we stand for and what we support. I choose to support moms and mom-owned businesses, not sweatshops. I prefer the best for my grandbabies, but most of all, I want to lay my head down at night and be able to say that the choices I make, by being green, supporting fair trade, ethical treatment of human beings, and the earth have a positive impact on everyone around me.

I pledge to NEVER knowingly purchase anything I know to be harmful to anyone financially, personally, and environmentally. Will you take that pledge too?

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