Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ethical Shopping Choices-Cloth Diapers

Welcome to the October 2012 Natural Living Blog Carnival: Ethical Shopping Choices This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Natural Living Blog Carnival hosted by Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project through the Green Moms Network. This month our members have written posts about how they make purchasing choices.
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For the month of October, the Natural Living Blog Carnival theme is Ethical Shopping Choices. This topic came at a wonderful time because it is something that I've noticed in an industry of "green" products is lacking sometimes.  As a consumer I must try really 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 everyday buying choices and interactions with other merchants/retailers.  As a full time cloth diapering mamma, I am not only a user of cloth diapers but also a retailer, and it is so interesting to be able to see both sides of the same issue.  I hear alot of talk (especially on facebook groups) from other CD mammas about "The Cheap Diaper".  Basically, 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, absolutely nothing wrong with asking this question.  As a consumer, I want to be able to get 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, then it probably is.  Let me explain...When a person designs an awesome product, lets 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 huge 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 all of the things people who are 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 just 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 actually spent the years and the time developing the very product you are using.  Most reputable diaper companies go to alot of trouble making sure 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.  The inventor of this diaper is a mom, just like the rest of us, and this company has spent a really long time making sure that their products are made "green" to the fullest extent.  Their diapers are made in China, but they operate under 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 with healthcare, education for their children, and a great place to work, NOT a sweat shop.  The diapers and accessories are biodegradable, so even if they end up in a landfill for some reason they will not do harm to the environment.  Human beings make our diapers-did you know that?  If you are happy to purchase a diaper for $4.00 where are the savings coming from?  There is no magic here.  If Rumparooz, or any other big cloth diaper company could survive by selling a $4.00 diaper they would! The reason they do not do it is 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 materials that are organic and good for 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 such and such co-op and they hate them because they are leaky and just plain fall apart in a short period of time.  You get what you pay for.  Our economy is such that supports this notion.  If these cheap diapers really were superior they would put the American companies out of business.  But they haven't, and they 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.  Alot of moms say, well I can't afford a $25 diaper.  I understand that notion, especially in this economy.  But there are options like waiting for sales, or purchasing seconds, used or saving up to purchase 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, what we support.  I choose to support moms, and mom-owned businesses, not sweat shops.  I choose the best for my baby, 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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Visit Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project to learn more about participating in next month’s Natural Living Blog Carnival! Please take some time to enjoy the posts our other carnival participants have contributed:

9 comments:

  1. I really like your comment, "If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is."
    That is so true. Companies make a lot of money by passing the true cost of production onto others to sell us things for little cost. Most people are blissfully unaware that the reason we can have large amounts of anything for very little money is because somewhere in production huge sacrifices were made, often in other countries. I'm learning, but only just beginning to and I am astounded by what I'm seeing.

    Bravo for talking about a product that many wouldn't often think about. If a product is deemed eco-friendly, I feel like they often get overlooked. :)

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  2. Ahhh, I couldn't agree more with you and Destany! What stuck out the most from your article was the "if it's too good to be true, it probably is." SO. TRUE. We don't often think about WHY a product is so cheap, we just know that it's easy on our wallet and that's all that matters. We need to start thinking past ourselves and connect with the hundreds of other lives that have had a hand in making, processing, packaging, shipping, delivering, etc. that product to us. As Destany said, somewhere in the production line, sacrifices were made, and we need to be aware of those sacrifices and do everything we can to put a stop to them.

    Thanks for a great article!

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  3. Fabulous article and you couldn't be more right. Just from the "how it holds up" standpoint - the Rumparooz, BG, FB - whatever will always out last a $4 diaper if taken care of the same way. The quality far surpasses - and don't even get me started on the ethics of it all. If people can afford to diaper their child with disposables, they can afford well-made cloth diapers. It might take a bit to build up a stash, but it's doable!

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  4. I am not a cloth diaper user but I do remember my mom using them on younger siblings. However I do know as someone with a very small baking business it's hard to show people that you are proving them with a good quality product and because of that it is a little more expensive. Everyone always wants things cheap but quality should always come first. Cheap isn't always better.

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  5. I didn't know all that about Rumparooz, great information! You are so right...it makes it so difficult for the ethical companies to survive and compete when other companies are unethically practicing. :-/

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  6. Wonderfully written! I think about this all the time. I have purchased cheaper things in the past but I am more aware now. I better myself every day in this aspect and I pledge to never knowingly purchase something that I know to be harmful to anyone. Thank you for the great information. I will be sure to share. :)

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  7. Well stated! I viewed our purchase and use of cloth diapers as an investment. Our overall savings, even though we did buy the expensive ones, will still be almost $3000 by the time our little one potty trains. It's worth the time and the money to buy quality items.

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