Ditch the Diapers: Our Zero Waste Initiative in Seattle

Our free, grant-funded program to help parents with potty training and so much more is finally here. Six months ago, Diaper Stork teamed up with Re-Think Green to conceive of a project that would save families money, reduce the amount of trash going to landfills, and make those “happiest babies and toddlers on the block” even happier than anyone thought humanly possible.

This summer, our project received a grant from the Waste-Free Communities Matching Grant program, meaning that every dollar and volunteer hour we put into this initiative earns us a 2-to-1 match from the City of Seattle, up to the amount of our grant. We’ve been working hard assembling the team that will put in hundreds of hours of work to teach families the skills of infant potty training (EC, or Elimination Communication) and toddler potty training, share our cultural knowledge and spread the word about a lower-cost, zero-waste way to keep our babies and kids clean and dry.

Today, we are ready to show you what this project is all about, and to invite you to participate and spread the word. You can get started right now by taking our potty training survey, and sharing it with all the parents, pediatricians and caregivers you know. Here’s what you can look forward to in the next 12 months:

  1. The Elimination Communication Challenge Group
  2. FREE EC Classes & Activities
  3. FREE Potty Training Classes
  4. Outreach to Pediatricians, Doulas and Daycares

Elimination Communication Challenge Group

The greatest news that maybe you’ve never heard: Babies are born ready to eliminate away from their bodies, which is why they signal, fuss and cry BEFORE they need a diaper change. They want that diaper off so they can stay clean and dry! Give them “pottytunities” at the right times, and you can keep those diapers clean and dry, too, with benefits for your wallet and your local landfill, as well as that happy baby. Infants have been going diaper free since time immemorial, and in many places around the world, they still do. To solve our first world problems of too much trash and budget-busting diaper expenses, we aim to reclaim the lost skill of infant pottying, which our elders and community members from other countries can help us relearn.

We’re in the process of picking 10-12 newborns and their families, who’ll explore the techniques of elimination communication (EC) over the one-year period of our grant. These families will have monthly meetings and ongoing support from certified EC trainers. By sharing their stumbles and successes, they will help broad networks of families learn about EC and get excited about trying it with their own babies.

Complete our application here by October 15th if you’d like to take the EC Challenge and join this group! Participants earn $40/mo. off the cost of cloth diaper laundry service from Diaper Stork.

Free EC Classes and Activities

For those who don’t have newborns right now or aren’t sure if EC is for them, we’ll be offering free classes introducing Elimination Communication without any commitment. Join our Facebook group or mailing list to keep informed about upcoming dates and locations. The focus neighborhoods for our program are Lake City, Fremont/Ballard, West Seattle, and Rainier Beach, so we plan to hold classes in those areas. Language interpreters will be available at select classes. We look forward to seeing you at a class soon!

Free Potty Training Classes

When is the best time to potty train? Since Pampers developed the disposable diaper in 1961, a majority of pediatricians, led by Pampers’ paid spokesman Dr. Ben Brazelton, have refused to give parents concrete advice, instead making potty training sound difficult, anxiety-inducing and something you don’t want to rush. That’s a big reason why the average age of daytime dryness has risen from 18 months of age in the 1950s to over 37 months today. And they keep coming out with new, bigger size diapers!

Well, we have no qualms about giving parents the real scoop on potty training: 18-30 months of age is the ideal age to complete daytime potty training using a kind, gentle, but methodical teaching process. Over a short period of time, determined but compassionate caregivers who put in the time can teach their toddlers this important skill, using reassurances instead of rewards to help them get past any anxieties.

Parents’ and caregivers’ preparation makes all the difference, because we can’t expect every child to potty train themselves. Expert potty trainers will give you the strategies and confidence to seize the perfect moment for your 18-24-month-old to start. Stay tuned for our schedule of free classes.

The goal of this project is to lower the average age of potty training in Seattle by six months, saving $500 per month, 335 gallons of waste and countless tantrums per family.

Join our Facebook group or mailing list to keep informed about upcoming dates and locations.

Outreach to Pediatricians, Doulas and Daycares

Daycares, medical professionals, and parent educators play an important role in families’ potty training journeys. We are looking for two daycares to be part of our pilot project, as well as pediatricians, other health care professionals and parent educators who are interested in this topic.

As our project takes shape, we look forward to identifying ways to involve all important stakeholders in our city-wide conversation about potty training and waste.

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