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My Green Community: Heiny Helpers

March 10, 2011

Last Sunday, I had the privilege of meeting Caela, Sara & Rachael, three cloth diapering moms with a grand plan: To supply cloth diapers, and cloth diapering support to local, low-income families. In fact, these amazing women have started an organization called Heiny Helpers that is doing just that. Families meeting financial need criteria are  supplied with a stock of cloth diapers, and all the advice they need. Free of charge.

Heiny Helpers was launched in early 2011 and has already made a positive impact on the Bloomington community. They have provided cloth diapers and support to 9 families, and currently have at least 13 pending applications. Being the green mama that I am, and that fact that I truly enjoyed cloth diapering my kids – I am in love with what Heiny Helpers is accomplishing. Promoting cloth diapering, and helping parents experiencing financial difficulty is a win-win, and I’m proud that this organization is part of my community!

Heiny Helpers Open House

Sara & Rachael chat with soon-to-be mom, Jessica

Why go cloth?

I asked Caela what made her decide that cloth diapering was right for her family, and she replied, “I did it to save money, to help the environment, and because they’re so darn cute. After learning more and getting started, I also feel better about what I’m putting on my baby’s behind.” Those are great reasons, Caela! In case you need convincing that cloth diapering is a great idea, let’s look at the benefits of going cloth:

  • Affordability: With an average cost of $20 per box of disposable diapers, and a child going through one box a week,  parents can plan to spend a minimum of $2,600 on diapers – and that is if they are lucky enough to get their child potty trained by 2 ½ years old. For kids who don’t potty train until they are three (which is quite normal), parents have spent $3,120. I haven’t even factored in the cost of disposable diaper wipes yet, and they are not cheap, folks! For 24 cloth diapers at $20 each (price varies by brand, style, etc…this estimate is for the diapers I used) I only spent $480. That is a huge savings!!!
  • Environmental Ramifications:  “In a study sponsored by the National Association of Diaper Services (NADS) and conducted by Carl Lehrburger and colleagues in 1991, results found that disposable diapers produce seven times more solid waste when discarded and three times more waste in the manufacturing process. In addition, effluents from the plastic, pulp, and paper industries are far more hazardous than those from the cotton-growing and -manufacturing processes.”  Also, according to the American Petroleum Institute, “3.5 billion gallons of oil were used to produce the 18 million throwaway diapers that Lehrburger studied in 1991. Approximately 7 billion gallons of oil each year are required to feed our disposable-diaper habit today, almost four times as much oil as is estimated to be in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge” (Source).
  • Health Benefits: Let me speak from experience first – We used disposable diapers on my son for the first several months, and we were constantly having to treat his diaper area with an antibiotic cream because he had recurring problems with folliculitis. The friction from his diapers gave him constant skin irritation. It was then that I made the switch to cloth, and started researching what was in those darn diapers. Here are a few of the ingredients you’ll find in a disposable diaper: Dioxin – called “a highly toxic chemical” by the EPA.  Sodium polyacrylate – the absorbent ingredient in the diapers that was removed from tampons due to toxic shock syndrome concerns. Not enough for you? VOCs, dyes, synthetic fragrances, plastics, and other appetizing chemicals are also found in disposables.  Read more about these chemicals here.

Heiny Helpers needs help!

What more can I say? Heiny Helpers is an amazing organization! These women are certainly doing their part to help struggling families make ends meet, and to promote environmental sustainability, which we will all benefit from. However, they will need support in order to thrive.

Here are a few ways you can help:

  1. Financial contributions are always welcome. Click here for information.
  2. Donate new or gently used cloth diapers. Heiny Helpers has received diaper donations from across the country.
  3. Here is my big request for bloggers: Pass this blog post on! Share it with as many people as you can! Allow me to write about Heiny Helpers as a guest on your blog! It is our hope that more exposure will result in more diapers & donations. The more “buzz” the better!

Caela demonstrating a pre-fold diaper.

Caela talks diapers.

Hopefully I have convinced you that Heiny Helpers is an organization worth supporting. I would love for them to continue offering this support to families for a long time to come!

Thank you for reading this post, and please visit Heiny Helpers online at: http://heinyhelpers.org. Tell them Earth Becomes Me sent you!

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