Poop. Pee. These two words seem to define the existence of a parent with children under the age of 3. Add another word: expensive. On average, disposable diapers run families about $800 a year.
After footing the bill to diaper four kids with disposables, Kelly Evans began to consider her options. Her friend, Lisa Schlientz, introduced her to the idea of cloth diapering. The idea of spending less and helping the environment appealed to Evans, and she made the switch with her fifth child. The savings were significant. In two-and-a-half years, Evans spent a total of $300. Evans says cloth diapering was not only cheaper but also more convenient. “I never ran out of diapers!” she says. “When I was running low, I just did a load of laundry.”
Schlientz and Evans loaned diapers to one another over the years. Both work with low-income families at the Springfield-Greene County WIC office and began to brainstorm the idea of creating a service to loan cloth diapers to people in need. “Many new moms are interested in starting the option of cloth but are not able to front the start-up cost that is needed,” Evans says. Together, Evans and Schlientz co-founded Cover Your Bum Cloth Diaper Bank.
Cover Your Bum loans diapers to low-income families for a period of one to three months. During the loan period, Evans says they work toward becoming “diaper independent.” “You get to try cloth diapers with no money out of your pocket,” she says. “During this time, you begin investing in your own.” Diapers are returned after the loan period.
To qualify for the program, families must meet income requirements (based on the same guidelines required to receive assistance from WIC or Crosslines Food Pantry). They must also have access to a personal washer and dryer and attend Diaper University. Diaper University is a free, two-hour course offered through Southwest Missouri Real Diaper Circle. It covers the different types of cloth diapers, how to care for them and even how to resell when you’re done. Skype, phone and email classes are all available to those who are unable to attend in person.
Through Crosslines, Cover Your Bum loans cotton pre-folds with waterproof covers, Glow Bug pocket diapers with microfiber inserts and wet bags. Many people borrow newborn diapers, so they can invest in the larger one-size diapers to be used through potty-training.
Evans says there are many benefits to cloth diapering. The cost savings are significant. Also, cotton, a natural fiber, is healthier for babies. And the environmental impact of using cloth is huge. More than 92 percent of disposables end up in landfills, and it’s estimated that diapers take 250 to 500 years to decompose.
Cover Your Bum’s first diaper loan was in November 2012. So far, they’ve helped more than 60 families in the Springfield area. Evans says they plan to continue helping families as long as there is a need.
If you would like to help Cover Your Bum, it accepts both tax-deductible monetary donations and cloth diaper donations. Diapers can be donated in any condition, and purchase diapers to donate at places like MaMa Jean’s Natural Market (1727 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield, 417-831-5229; 1110 E. Republic Rd., Springfield, 417-881-5326; 3530 E. Sunshine St., Springfield, 417-429-1800; mamajeansmarket.com) and Dandylions (online only), Cover Your Bum prefers monetary donations since it can purchase new cloth diapers at a discounted rate.