Going green, One Diaper at a time

Local organization aims to alleviate the financial strain of babyhood with free kits


Photo: bigstockphoto.com © moswyn

One of the most confounding choices for parents is the diaper debate: cloth vs. disposable. No matter which you choose, this decision has a serious financial impact. Disposable diapers for one child can cost thousands of dollars, but for many families, the initial cost of $500 or more for cloth diapers can be daunting. One Diaper Canada is a registered charity that hopes to alleviate some of the strain by providing cloth diaper kits to families in the Ottawa region.

Run by a group of volunteers who are passionate about the benefits of cloth diapering, One Diaper Canada assembles complete kits, which include cloth diapers and other diapering necessities, for distribution to families in need throughout the Ottawa area. Families in need of assistance can fill out an online application on the One Diaper Canada website. The application collects information about the child so that volunteers can prepare a cloth diaper kit specifically for the family. Once they receive the kit, families will only need to cover the cost of laundering the diapers, which is significantly less than the cost of disposable diapers. And help doesn’t end there. “Once a family receives one of our kits, we place huge importance on family follow-up and support,” says Cassandra Matta, one of the organization’s founders. Volunteers provide information on cloth diapering best practices, and support families by answering questions by email and telephone.

One Diaper Canada focuses on families in financial need, who might not be able to afford an adequate number of disposable diapers for their child.
A family’s inability to provide enough diapers is known as ‘diaper need.’ In an effort to save money, caregivers might not change a child’s diaper frequently, or might reuse a soiled diaper. This can affect the child’s health, with implications that include urinary tract infections, severe diaper rash, and blistering. The mental health of child and caregiver can be affected, as well, and extended baby crying can lead to difficulties with bonding. By removing the financial burden of disposable diapers, One Diaper Canada hopes that caregivers will have the ability to change the baby’s diaper as often as needed.

One Diaper Canada also hopes that by removing the financial obstacle preventing some families from using cloth diapers, they can help to reduce the number of disposable diapers headed to landfills each year. The organization has adopted a reduce, reuse, recycle strategy for the cloth diapers it distributes, in order to make the biggest environmental impact. Because a cloth diaper can be used for multiple children, One Diaper Canada collects donations of used cloth diapers, sorts them, and sends those in excellent condition for sterilization and eventual use in a kit. Diapers in need of repair are sent to volunteers who bring the diapers to like-new condition before reuse. Diapers that cannot be reused are disassembled with parts being used to build new diapers. “We are able to give a second life to [the donated diapers],” says Matta.

To volunteer or learn more, visit One Diaper Canada at onediaper.org.

Photo Courtesy: One Diaper


By the Numbers

60 The number of diaper kits that One Diaper Canada has distributed so far

1,500 The number of cloth diapers donated to families in need

420,000 The estimated number of disposable diapers that One Diaper’s kits have helped to keep from the landfills

$200,000 The estimated amount of money that One Diaper Canada has saved families