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6th Annual Flats & Handwashing Challenge

Added on 17 May 2016 in Traditional Flat & Prefold Cloth Nappies, Washing & care of cloth nappies

Here’s a challenge for you: sign up for the 6th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge, and yep, you guessed it, use flat nappies and hand wash them for a week!

This sounds a little (a lot?) crazy. Like someone’s trying to make cloth nappies as difficult as possible. Why would you do this? Are people training for a zombie apocalypse?

But there’s actually a really important reason that this challenge was started 6 years ago by Kim of Dirty Diaper Laundry as a personal challenge.

 

We don’t hear too much about ‘diaper need’ or people struggling to afford disposable nappies in Australia, but in the US it’s a serious problem. So serious that recently a bill was introduced specifically to help low income families buy disposable nappies, stating that families "shouldn’t have to choose between diapers, food or rent.” Nearly 30% of American women have experienced a time when they couldn’t afford disposables for their children, resorting to borrowing money from friends to buy them, having them provided by a church or charity, and in 8% of cases, parents have stretched their nappies by not changing them as often as they should, or even scraping and reusing them. Child care centres usually require parents to supply their own disposables, causing issues for women who want to return to work, but can’t afford childcare to search.

So, 'diaper need’ has been a hot topic in the US for several years, but amongst all the talk, very rarely was the option of cloth nappies raised. Kim from Dirty Diaper Laundry set out to demonstrate that cloth nappies could be a viable alternative for low income families, which is how the Flats and Handwashing Challenge started.

There are 2 main objections to cloth nappies as a possible solution for many low income families in the US:

  • Cloth nappies are an expensive upfront expense.
  • Many low income families don’t have a washing machine at home, and laundromats can object to their facilities being used for dirty nappies.

Hence this challenge using the cheapest available cloth nappy option - old-school traditional flats - and the whole hand washing thing. Flat nappies are also the easiest to wash by hand.

It’s never been the intention of this challenge to tell low income parents that they should use cloth nappies or that it’s an option for everyone. And no one is saying it’s the easy option. But thousands of parents taking this challenge have demonstrated that it is possible to use cloth nappies with minimal resources, at least temporarily, and the stories from previous years have shown that it has made a difference for many families. Yes - there are a significant number of families in America that hand wash nappies on a regular basis and this challenge has provided ideas, resources and support to make this possible.

Kim from Dirty Diaper Laundry is passionate about cloth nappies being available as an alternative for low income families, and is currently the Executive Director of ‘Giving Diapers, Giving Hope,’ a charity that provides cloth nappies to low income families, so they can use money for other needs.

Even if you aren’t experiencing financial difficulty yourself, get out of your comfort zone and see if you can use flats for a week. Or hand wash your nappies for a week. Or do both! You might surprise yourself, and you’ll have the security of knowing that you'll be able to continue to use cloth if your washing machine breaks down, you go camping off the beaten track, or (of course) there’s a zombie apocalypse.

If you decide to prepare for the zombie apocalypse or challenge yourself to go super-minimal, let us know and share photos of your journey. We’d love to see how you go.

And don't forget to enter our Traditional Nappies Giveaway!


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