CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Rachel Hall estimates that she and her husband, Charlie, have saved more than $1,000 using cloth diapers on Faithanna, their 16-month-old daughter.
The cost savings enable Hall to stay home with her daughter and to pursue her writing career on a free-lance schedule, rather than return full time to the work force.
The environmentally friendly aspects of cloth diapers appeal to Hall, especially after she and Charlie lived briefly in Hawaii, where recycling and trash reduction are a necessary way of life. There isn't much room for landfills on islands.
"We became more environmentally conscious while we lived there. We were surrounded by this amazing natural beauty that we didn't want to impact in a negative way," she said. "When we moved back here, I realized West Virginia has the same beauty, but I hadn't noticed it before. I didn't want to have a negative impact on it, either."
The statistics about disposal diapers spoke to Hall.
- Each disposable diaper takes 500 years to decompose.
- The average baby in disposable diapers contributes about 2 tons of waste to landfills.
- Disposable diapers cost between $2,000 and $4,000 for each baby. A cloth system starts at $500.
Most people are familiar with the statistics, but don't consider cloth diapers a viable alternative. In May, Hall launched a business, Diaper Parties by Rachel, in which she hopes to both educate parents about the advantages of cloth diapers and to sell diapers and related products.
Hall brings a kit containing a wide array of modern cloth diapers and associated products to groups of parents, or anyone interested in child care.
"They can touch and feel the diapers," she said. "Even people who are pretty adamantly opposed to them, if they just hear about them, especially the financial considerations, they might be interested."
Cloth diapers are a tradition in Hall's family. Norma Gensler, Hall's mother in Huntington, diapered four of her five children in cloth diapers. She didn't have a washing machine when her first child was born, so she had to use disposables.
Hall's sister in Cincinnati introduced her to the modern line of pinless cloth diaper products. While she was still pregnant, Rachel picked out the diaper line she planned to use on her baby. Her options are a bit mind-boggling.
Faithanna's fashionably clad bottom bears little resemblance to traditional saggy white diapers. Her brightly colored and patterned diapers are cute enough for public viewing, but don't show under her toddler shorts and pants because they fit snugly.
All her diapers have a row of snaps so they can be adjusted to grow with her. Faithanna wears the same diapers today that she wore as a newborn. The Halls received nearly enough diapers as baby gifts to outfit Faithanna until she uses a potty chair, but still bought more.
"They're just so darned cute, it's hard to resist," she said