There is some controvery in the cloth diaper community regarding cheap diaper brands.
The main controversy revolves around the manufacturing of these diapers–are they manufactured by people who are old enough to work, and do they receive a fair wage? There is also some concern about safety (could there be trace amounts of lead in the diapers?) and copyright infringement issues.
There are many cheap diaper companies in existence, but they do not all operate the same, so we don’t want to lump them all into the same boat.
Safety should be a top priority for all parents. One accusation against cheap diapers is they could have lead in them due to a belief that the manufacturing standards are not high enough.
Lead in our diapers would be terrible. However, it’s unlikely.
There has been testing done on several made-in-china brands of cloth diapers, and none of the testing found lead.
When people are looking for a promise of safety on a consumer product, they often look for a CPSIA certification and a lack of a CPSIA certification has been used as proof that diapers may contain lead. It is true that not all companies have this certification, but this certification is an American certification, and some companies may receive alternative safety certifications from other countries that may even have higher standards.
That said, CPSIA certifcation is great, but it is not the end-all-be-all, and the absense of this certification isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. It doesn’t mean we disregard certifications all together, but just be cognizant of the fact there is not really any documented case of lead in cloth diapers.
There are lots of accusations against some cheapie companies about copyright infrigement on prints or diaper designs made by other people.
This is unfortunately a real issue. It is theft, and I don’t condone it. But cloth diaper companies are not the only companies that do this. It is an issue that extends to make made in China “knock off” products.
Fair working conditions is something we should always be concerned about. We don’t want to support companies that clearly use child labor or pay an unlivable wage, or that are unsafe.
However, we must be careful not to paint all companies with the same brush, and we must recognize that we don’t totally know the manufacturing conditions for every company. It is silly to boycott diaper companies over some assumptions based on their price when we don’t hold this same standard to other products we buy.
Many people in the cloth diaper community don’t think twice about buying clothes from Walmart, Target, Old Navy, or The Children’s Place where clothes are cheap and working conditions not likely all that different from a diaper company’s… but then will preach at people that their Alva cloth diapers are unethical.
I am not saying we shouldn’t care about people receiving a fair wage, but I do personally think it’s hypocritical to buy your child a whole wardrobe at The Children’s Place or similar stores, but then turn your nose up or shame cheap diaper brands.
This doesn’t just apply to clothing, but also toys. And probably anything sold at Dollar Tree.
You need to do what your conscience tells you to do. It is entirely possible that some cheapie brands don’t pay their workers enough and force them to work long hours. But do realize that this is a much bigger issue than just choosing some different diaper brands. It will require a revolution of almost everything you buy. I believe it is worth it to purchase more ethical products, but I understand you must come from a place of privilege to be able to make some of those changes.
We should not shame people that may not be at the same place as us financially or emotionally.
Diaper Prices Matter…For Us.
The argument for or against cloth diaper cheapies is a little more nuanced than we are led to believe. We also have the very real issue that many people turn to cloth diapers to save money, but a $20 diaper is not going to be a reasonable expense.
I just saw an article the other day that less than 4 in 10 people would be able to afford a $1000 emergency expense. Do you think they have $1000 to spend on a cloth diaper stash?
Will even expensive cloth diapers save you money in the long run? Probably… BUT that isn’t helpful at all when you are paycheck to paycheck and don’t have much of a savings to invest in diapers.
Buying high end diaper brands to save money down the road is a luxury for people that already have a little extra money to begin with. Yes, there are other cheap ways to cloth diaper (see links at the end of this post), but some of them are not “daycare friendly” and getting cheap pockets might be what you need to do for your family and appease caregivers.
What Should We Do?
Like I stated earlier, this is an issue that seems like it should be black and white, but it’s not. We need to do what works for our family.
If you have the budget to be able to support American or Canadian diaper companies, I believe it is worth it. These companies have a lot more accountability and they can help you feel better about your purchases, not to mention offer better customer service.
I believe if you are a family that is turning to cloth diapers because you need to cut costs from your bottom lines, you need to do what you need to do right now. Do not feel guilty about doing the best you’re able to do.
Do know that there are other ways to get a dirt cheap diaper stash without buying questionable products, if that is where your conscience leads you (if not, you do you!) Check out these posts: