I remember my first year participating in The Great Cloth Diaper Change. It was April 21, 2011, the first year of its inception when the record was set for the most babies changed into a cloth diaper at the same time. The record set that year was 5,026 diapers changed simultaneously. But it would have been 5,051, if not for me. What’s that you say? How can one person make such a big difference?
I could have. I attended the Savannah, Georgia location at Just for Baby and More, and there were 24 other families in attendance that day who came to change their baby into a cloth diaper for the Guinness World Record™ attempt. There must be 25 babies changed in order for an event to count towards the official count. The event was set to Change at 11am EST. I walked in at 11:01. Everyone was mid-change and I was too late to be counted. For an entire year I regretted with the deepest sorrow that I had been the reason why Savannah babies did not count towards the change that year.
That moment was ingrained in my memory, and since then I can only hope I have made up for it through 3 years of tireless cloth diaper advocacy work. In 2012 and 2013 I co-hosted the event in Savannah, during which time we contributed 72 and 61 babies towards the official totals for those years, respectively.
In 2013 the GCDC committee decided to set a new world record. This one was going to be for “most babies changed at one time,” rather than “simultaneously.” This meant that host sites in other parts of the world would not have to conduct The Change in the middle of the night, or at other unreasonable times. This year we broke that record. In El Paso I co-hosted and we had 33 babies count towards the official total.
That brings us to The Great Cloth Diaper Change 2014. What a Great distance the cloth diapering community has come! This year there were 8,459 babies changed and counted towards the official total (VERIFIED). That is 3,433 more babies or a 68% increase since year 1.
Every year, the organizers: the Real Diaper Association, hosts, and individuals build up more and more momentum and excitement. Every single person involved, from Baby Expo hosts to the parents participating, is a vital part of that momentum and makes a difference towards the final outcome of this global event.
Getting back to the heart and mission of the project, designed by former RDIA board member Judy Aagard, all involved are seeking to raise awareness about the evolution of cloth diapers and their modern comeback onto today’s changing tables. Everyone wants to have fun, maybe fundraise a little money, and of course get their local cloth diapering community together for a good time.
But at a deeper level, the event catches the attention of local press, sometimes nation-wide press, and other community members who are not already involved in the cloth diaper community. Especially wonderful is the opportunity to educate local parents with babies who are not already using cloth. These parents changed their babies into cloth diapers for the very first time during the Great Cloth Diaper Change Event. They are "first time changers."
Collecting interviews for this blog post, I felt a little bit like Ursula in the Little Mermaid collecting souls. Every parent’s answers were unique, individual, and inspiring.
El Paso, TX
“Okay are you ready for the after photo? Hold up your babies!” instructed the whistle blower, Arturo, at the El Paso, Texas event. “Wait wait!” someone cried out, “we have a first time changer here!” Happy titters and giggles rustled through the crowd. We waited another 30 seconds for the last participant to finish changing her baby, then altogether we held our little ones high up into the air for the after photo required by Guinness as submission evidence. That first timer was Liz, who said that she had used gDiapers with disposable inserts when her son was a newborn, but had shied away from using reusable diapers when she had trouble breastfeeding and decided to exclusively pump. When her husband, a soldier in the U.S. Army, deployed for a year, she made attempts to minimize the number of household chores she would have to accomplish, and dirty diaper laundry did not make that list. She always used organic disposable diapers even though they were more expensive, because she wanted to protect her son from the chemicals she had read about in mainstream diapers. Liz is very involved with her local natural parenting and babywearing community. In fact, she co-leads the local Babywearing group, hosts meetings and classes regularly, and even owns her own business Tanuki Textiles weaving beautiful products on a loom! She knew almost all of the other mothers who would be attending GCDC, and the local cloth diaper business’ owners at Red River Rags are close friends of hers. They were co-hosting the event and convinced her she had to come and join in the fun, even if she wasn’t ever going to cloth diaper. However, after participating in The Change, Liz has decided that 17months is not too old for her son to switch to cloth diapers! She learned that swishing poop in the toilet and throwing all the diapers into the washing machine until it’s time to start a load is not as hard as she had feared. She purchased a new diaper at the event and was the lucky winner of the biggest raffle prize, a reupholstered glider! She owns 6 cloth diapers now, and says she is going to continue using cloth 100% of the time she is at home and then “see where it goes.”
31 Great Cloth Diaper Change events were hosted in Canada this year. In British Columbia, Kylie changed her baby into a cloth diaper for the first time. She had tried cloth diapers once before with her now 4 year old son, but they hadn’t stayed with her. Being fairly new to the area, and since having her second child, Kylie had been trying to attend many mama/baby events in order to meet other local mothers with young children. One of her local mama friends shared about their local GCDC event on her Facebook timeline and the opportunity to meet more new mama friends intrigued her. The vendor booths that would be part of the event were another huge draw. When she arrived on April 26th, she was very surprised to learn how cloth diapers had changed since she had first tried them 4 years ago. The cloth diapers she knew required tricky pins and plastic pants that guaranteed a pooplosion at least once a week. The cloth diapers she saw before her now were not like that at all! There was Velcro, snaps, elastic, and the most adorable prints and colors like she could not have imagined. As she changed her baby into this modern cloth diaper, she changed her mind. She now determined that she would use cloth diapers with her daughter as often as possible. She has since purchased a stash and uses them almost exclusively, except for at night, since she has not yet found a nighttime cloth diapering option that works for her. She reports that she is so happy to have found modern cloth, happy to save money on diapers, and happy to do her part to conserve natural resources.
Varkaus, Phojois-Savo, Finland
The Finnish event had one first-time changer, Eveliina, who brought her baby to the event in order to participate in the Guinness World Record at the encouragement of her friend and GCDC host Aulikki
In the heart of Arkansas just one hour from the capital Little Rock, Cheri changed her baby into a 100% reusable cloth diaper for the first time. One month before the event, she purchased a set of gDiaper covers from Target.com, with their corresponding disposable inserts and had been using those throughout April. Her friend and GCDC host Cynthia Hughes had encouraged her to attend the event and look into using cloth diapers. She attended in hopes of gaining more information and having the opportunity to see and feel in-person several different types of cloth diapers. She was also interested in visiting the vendor booths that were going to be there. Since the event, Cheri has begun using 100% reusable cloth diapers part-time while at home. It is going well so far but she needs to collect more inserts.
Durbanville, South Africa
At the South African event this year, two first-time changers participated. One participant, Mel, brought her 6 month old to change at the event. She said “I used a set [of cloth diapers] on my first born, but sold it as we were not going to have another child. And then we had little P 6 months ago!” She found out about her local event via the local cloth diaper store Facebook page Doodlebums, who lent her a diaper to change her baby into for The Change. Mel was inspired by the event to purchase another set of cloth diapers for baby P, and is currently looking into brands and comparing prices.
In Boonsboro, Maryland, Jessica saw a post about the Great Cloth Diaper Change on her local baby store’s Facebook page. She had wanted to attend last year for GCDC 2013, but had not made it to the event. Last year, she was interested in cloth diapers and hoped to learn more about them at the event. This year, she was determined she would go. She messaged Enkore Kids and asked if she could participate if she didn’t already own a cloth diaper. They said they would bring some used diapers to the event and she could borrow one for The Change. Just before 11 o’clock, Jessica was able to play with the diapers Enkore Kids had brought for new cloth diapering parents to try out. She practiced, and then chose one. “Ready, set, change!” the signal was called out for every participant to change their baby now. Now was the time! Jessica changed her baby into a cloth diaper for the first time, and it was a perfect fit. She learned from Enkore Kids how she could go about purchasing a stash via their rent-to-own program. Jessica decided that very day that she would cloth diaper. She has now been cloth diapering both her 2.5 year old and 1 year old full time for two weeks. Jessica says, “I am so thankful for everyone who set up and coordinated the Great Cloth Diaper Change… It was a great experience and awesome way to connect with the local cloth diapering community. Had I not attended I probably would still be using disposable diapers.”
So there you have it, mothers who changed their babies into a cloth diaper for the first time at their local GCDC event, and were inspired to continue using cloth. The spirit of unification that is born of this global event every year is no small feat of International collaboration.
But I must add another note here that I wish I didn’t have to write. It was very difficult to cultivate these interviews. Not because my interviewees were hard to find. Not because they were flakey (they weren’t). But because of how few of them there were in attendance. Other than these six, there were only maybe 8 or 10 other first time changers that I was able to find, who I did not interview. I personally tagged and private messaged dozens of hosts trying to find more first-times. At many, many events, every single participant was already heavily involved in their local cloth community.
This tells us something very important.
I would like to call for a new host-focus for The Great Cloth Diaper Change 2015. Let us look beyond our already existing cloth community. Let us bring in more families who do not already cloth diaper. Push the fact that they will get to participate in a World Record. Entice them with vendors or a free baby signing class. Partner or co-host with a local babywearing or breastfeeding group to bring in mamas from their circles as well. Pass out more “You’ve been spotted… with a baby 39 inches or less!” fliers. Give them to parents walking out of the grocery store with disposable diapers in their carts. Hand them to parents sitting with their kids at the park. Delegate fliering to a team of volunteers… who knows this may even be a great way to get more cloth diapering moms into volunteering and advocacy.
Together, we can change the definition of “cloth diapers” worldwide. We can change minds as we change diapers. We can surpass the World Record for the most babies changed into a cloth diaper by thousands of new participants every year.
So here’s to The Great Cloth Diaper Change 2014, all of the hosts who worked so hard and did such a fantastic job. And here’s to The Great Cloth Diaper Change 2015. May it be an even Greater Cloth Diaper Change!