These aren’t your grandparents’ cloth diapers! Cloth diapering has come a long way since the days of safety pins and hand washing; and while the technology and design of cloth diapers has improved, the environmental and economic benefits have stood the test of time. The Minnesota Cloth Diaper Bank is encouraging parents across the state to take another look at the benefits of cloth diapers.
MCDB was founded in 2020 by sisters, Danielle Claseman, who works in responsible sourcing, and Rachel DeVries, a pediatrician. Using cloth diapers on their own children, they wanted to help make cloth diapering accessible, affordable, and achievable for all Minnesota families.
“There are so many benefits to using cloth diapers - keeping disposable diapers out of landfills and chemicals off our babies’ bodies are some of the big ones,” says Claseman. “But with all of these benefits, we recognize that there are some financial and educational barriers to getting started. We remove those barriers so families can try cloth [diapers] pretty much risk free.”
The MCDB program loans families a “stash” of 20 cloth diapers, and provides ongoing support and resources. Diapers can be swapped for different styles or replaced with larger sizes as the child grows. Most of the cloth diapers used in the program are gently used (and sanitized) and have been donated, further reducing the environmental impact. There is no cost to participate in the program (unless shipping costs are incurred) and anyone in Minnesota is welcome to apply.
“Approximately 20 billion disposable diapers are added to landfills throughout the country each year. That waste won’t decompose for about 400 years, so the environmental implications are huge,” says DeVries. “We also know that one in three Minnesota families struggle to provide enough clean diapers. Our goal is to support families and divert as many single-use diapers from the landfill as possible.”
Since their founding, MCDB has helped more than 200 Minnesota families meet their diapering needs with cloth diapers. An unexpected contributor to their success early on was the pandemic and the supply chain shortages that accompanied it. Claseman says, “We saw a big increase in applications during the early months of the pandemic. With product shortages, including diapers, I think it sparked a renewed interest in cloth diapers which are reusable and allow you to be more self-sufficient.”
As more families are looking for ways they can reduce their environmental footprint, Claseman and DeVries want to spread the word about MCDB’s free diaper loan program.
“We want to get the word out that we’re here to help, and we have diapers and supplies ready to go! The more children we can get in cloth diapers, the more we can reduce the economic and environmental impact of diapering,” says DeVries.
For more information or to apply for diapers, visit mnclothdiaperbank.org. Everyone is welcome to apply!
If you're not in need of diapers, but are interested in volunteering with us we're always looking to expand our network of supporters. Volunteering information is available at mnclothdiaperbank.org.
About Minnesota Cloth Diaper Bank
We are working to make cloth diapering accessible, affordable, and achievable for all Minnesota families. Our aim is to minimize the economic and environmental impacts of diapering.
We recognize that one in every three Minnesota families struggle to provide a sufficient number of clean diapers for regular diaper changes. Due to a prohibitively large racial income gap in Minnesota, families with the greatest financial need tend to be families of color.
Cloth diapering—though a more affordable option in the long-term—is often unattainable in the short-term for low-income families with the initial cost of a diaper stash often surpassing $500.
Every year, approximately 20 billion disposable diapers are tossed into landfills throughout the country, creating about 3.5 million tons of waste—waste that does not decompose for 400 years. This heavy toll on our environment can be mitigated through the use of cloth diapers.
Though cloth diapers must be regularly laundered, the water used in this process is actually 2.3 times less than the water necessary for manufacturing and using disposable diapers.
To help remove the financial barrier of cloth diapering and decrease the environmental impact of disposable diapers, the Minnesota Cloth Diaper Bank has created a free cloth diaper loan program.
MCDB’s cloth diaper loan program provides cloth diapers to families free-of-charge, with the expectation that the family will return the diapers once their child no longer requires them.
Qualifying applicants to our program receive a starting cloth diaper stash (new or gently used diapers which have been laundered and, if necessary, repaired), which they may keep for as long as they need. Once the diapers are no longer required, the recipient ships them back to Minnesota Cloth Diaper Bank, where they are laundered, repaired, and (if viable) passed on to the next family.
1 According to a September 6, 2019 Star Tribune article, “poverty among whites in Minnesota is about 7%, while the rate is more than four times higher at 32% for blacks, the third biggest gap in the country.”
2 Reinhardt, Jenn. “Cloth Diapers and Water Usage.” All About Cloth Diapers.https://www.allaboutclothdiapers.com/cloth-diapers-and-water-usage/