The purpose of starting Lil Helper Cloth Diapers was to promote the use of more sustainable diapering practices. In conjunction with that, our mission with Baby Do Good is to give 1 brand new cloth diaper to a family in need for every 3 cloth diapers we sell.
We decided that we would limit these cloth diaper donations to the USA & Canada only. More than knowing where we wanted our “donated” diapers to land, we know where we don’t want them to go.
We don’t want our donated cloth diapers to go to Africa or Asia.
These are the reasons that support our decision.
Diapers Are Not On Their Priority List
Diapers, cloth or disposables, do not feature on the list of priorities, of any charity working on the ground in either Asia or Africa.
Parents and families in impoverished countries have a lot of other needs that are more pertinent than diapers. Employment, clean water, nutritious food, healthcare, education, security, sanitation and decent living conditions would far outweigh the need or want for one-size waterproof cloth diapers.
Already High Use Of Cloth Diapers
Having grown in India, I can personally testify that developing countries like India or China already have a high rate of cloth diaper use.
Traditionally diapers are made from old cotton bed sheets or anything else as long as it won’t hurt the child and the material in use can take some abuse. I have seen kids in my own family wear diapers made from old curtains and such.
Disposables diapers are a luxury item in developing countries and used mostly by the aspiring middle class or upper class families, especially while traveling. Donating cloth diapers in societies that already have highly sustainable diapering practices would be an oxymoron.
On the other hand, only a tiny fraction of the parents in North America choose to cloth diaper their children. Baby Do Good wants to help the willing, but not able, part of that population to exercise the choice of cloth diapering.
Do Developing Countries Even NEED Cloth Diapers?
The need for a commodity is established by its availability, ease of access and usefulness. Therefore, medication, food, housing and education always trump toys and diapers. Giving cloth diapers to countries where kids are taught Elimination Communication (EC) and are cloth diapered, would be wasteful. In our opinion and folks that are informed (far more informed than yours truly) in the area of international aid- cloth diapers would qualify for “bad aid“.
You Can’t Compete With Free
Feeding things into a fragile economy, like that of Africa, might do more harm than good.
Maybe there is already a group of resourceful women who earn a livelihood by stitching diapers for the village. A load of free diapers in a small community would dry up her business and she would have to shut shop. And, for whatever reason, if we cannot satisfy the need for diapers in the coming months or years; the recipients of our “generosity” would be out of options to obtain diapers because the local diaper lady is also defunct.
I understand that the above situation is hypothetical but with what I have read about Africa and personally know about India, a situation like this is not far from the truth.
Learning From The Mistakes of Others
There is already evidence of the unintended consequences of donations in Africa, where the high influx of used clothes from the west has destroyed 50% of the clothes manufacturers. The destruction of the garment-manufacturing sector translates to job losses in the thousands. This eventually creates a society that is less prosperous and more dependent on Western aid- the complete opposite of what the donations were meant to do. We at Lil Helper would hate to contribute further to this problem.
Currently we are a boot strapped organization and with our limited resources can neither quantify nor confirm the impact our diapers would have on the delicate economy of a teetering village.
We Want To Sleep Well At Night
Frankly, participating in a photo op with a malnourished African child with us handing over a bunch of our diapers would get us some buzz and strengthen our image as a “caring” company. It might even encourage a few customers to spend more money on our diapers- money that they would have spent on another brand. Sales might pick-up a bit because everybody wants to help the guy that helps poor children. But knowing in our hearts that the same child would be far better served if we could provide him with a vaccination would keep us up all night. I am sure that you wouldn’t be comfortable doing that either.
So the obvious question is- Why not provide vaccinations to those African kids? We are not experts in providing aid to impoverished people. We never claimed we were. We do not know their most immediate needs. There are people on the ground doing a splendid job already. We will do our best in the meantime to make sure we can help and influence the people who are in need here.
In comparison, knowing that a batch of Lil Helper Diapers will help save a ton of money for a struggling family or single mother in your neighborhood and prevent 6000 disposables from clogging landfills will ensure a good night sleep for all involved.
What If You’re Wrong About This?
Won’t be the first or last time we are wrong about something. As with all things that we’ve been wrong about- we’ll come out, admit our mistake and do our best to fix it.
Most of the decisions we make with the day-to-day running of Lil Helper Cloth Diapers are based on common sense, best judgement and the over arching knowledge that we are doing no harm to anybody. This decision was no different.
Knock Some Sense Into Us
If you’ve anything to suggest to us in terms of what we could do with our Baby Do Good donations or other aspects of our company- do tell. Or if you have better knowledge than what we are working or equipped with- please share below in the comments section or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join us on Facebook or Twitter!