Sunday April 22, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Shivani Cash of Rich mond changed her baby's diaper Saturday. In doing so, she switched from disposable diapers to cloth.

She wasn't alone.

There were 25 other babies whose bums were being wrapped in cloth in the back room of the Treehouse children's boutique on North Street, all at the same time -- 12:30 p.m.

But wait. There's more.

At Shima in North Adams, another 11 babies were discovering cloth. And there were an estimated 305 sites in 16 countries where parents were simultaneously switching to cloth during the Great Cloth Diaper Change of 2012, an attempt to break last year's record of 5,026 participants.

Five-week-old Izzabell Hodge is held up by her mother after a change into cloth diapers.
Five-week-old Izzabell Hodge is held up by her mother after a change into cloth diapers. (Stephanie Zollshan / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

"I never changed a diaper with so many ladies and babies before," Cash said, holding her smiling 8-month-old baby Eliya. "It was quite an experience."

The whole idea, noted store owner Heather Fletcher, is to help folks understand the burden they are putting on the environment by using disposable diapers.

"They take hundreds of years to decompose," Fletcher said. "These things should not be going to the landfill."

According to organizers of the Great Cloth Diaper Change, every year billions of disposable diapers end up in landfills around the world, at the rate of about 60,000 per minute in the U.S. and Canada alone.

During the last few dec ades, the use of cloth diapers has dropped off dramatically, to the point where new parents may not even be aware that cloth diapers are still available.

"It's really an effort to bring awareness about cloth diapers and how much better they are for the environment," Flet cher said.

The design of cloth diapers have become much more convenient for both washing and wearing, as well as being more colorful and stylish.

The typical family will need about 24-30 diapers per child, and typically run them through the washer -- after depositing their solid contents into the commode -- every two or three days, Fletcher said.

Parents hold up cloth diapers before changing their babies at the Treehouse children’s boutique during Saturday’s Great Cloth Diaper Change of
Parents hold up cloth diapers before changing their babies at the Treehouse children’s boutique during Saturday’s Great Cloth Diaper Change of 2012. (Stephanie Zollshan / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

Cloth diapers also save money -- about $2,000 per child -- because they are reused, not tossed out and replaced every week.

"It's easier, cheaper, and healthier for the baby be cause they are changed more frequently and there are no chemical products always in contact with the baby's backside.

During the diaper change at the Treehouse, there were refreshments, and the store raffled off about $400 in merchandise.

Kevin and Susan Robinson of Pittsfield were also there with 5-month-old their twins Sebastian and Emmaline.

"We are changing diapers all the time," Kevin Robinson said. "We want to try the experience of cloth diapers."

"I think it's important to get the word out about cloth diapers," added Susan Robinson.

Five-month-old Julian Crine Livermore crawls around prior to his diaper change.
Five-month-old Julian Crine Livermore crawls around prior to his diaper change. (Stephanie Zollshan / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
"Some people don't even know they exist."

To reach Scott Stafford:
sstafford@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6241.
On Twitter: @BE_SStafford