Update: As of January, 2015, my borough of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve now offers a $100 subsidy!
As a cloth-obsessed Mommy Blogger, it’s my mandate to convince parents to make the switch to full-time cloth. Cloth diapering saves a lot of money in the long run; even buying the cheapest brand of disposable diapers for three years will cost significantly more than a set of cloth diapers. Don’t believe me? Consider this: No parent will deny that being able to dress their second child in “hand-me-downs” is a money saver. Baby brother can make use of all his older sibling’s gear. But, have you ever seen a baby brother wearing his big sister’s Pampers? For that matter, when was the last time you saw someone selling their used Huggies on Kijiji and getting 50% of their money back? Right. I know, I’m preaching to the converted. But some families are reticent about investing in cloth diapers due to the initial cost. It can be intimidating to fork over hundreds of dollars all at once compared to tacking on $30 to the grocery bill every couple of weeks. In some cases, the money to get started with cloth diapers is simply not available all at once. Other families eagerly spend the cash at the start, and this investment has an impact far beyond their own bank accounts.
I was interviewed last year by the Montreal Gazette about my love of cloth diapers and my dream of an island-wide cloth subsidy. Hopefully this little bit of publicity can serve as a catalyst for our city’s policy makers. Ilana Grostern, co-founder of AppleCheeks cloth diapers, is petitioning her city, Cote Saint-Luc (on the island of Montreal) to bring in a subsidy. Partnering with cloth retailers is a great strategy for garnering interest in a subsidy, and retailers undeniably reap the benefits once a subsidy is approved!
Consumers are being encouraged to make environmentally-responsible choices: there are subsidies for fuel-efficient vehicles, tax credits for transit passes and rebates for building eco-energetic houses. A cloth diaper subsidy program allows families to acquire diapers which will, over the course of their children’s infancy, save them hundreds of dollars. A cloth diaper subsidy program encourages families who might not otherwise consider cloth as an option to give fluffy bums a try. A cloth diaper subsidy program rewards those eager to make a sustainable choice that has an impact on all citizens.Consider the following:
“According to Environment Canada, more than four million disposable diapers are discarded in Canada each day. […] it takes an estimated 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose in a landfill…” (CBC News, 2008).
It is clear to me that a refund program for families who choose cloth has concrete economic and environmental impacts. So, how do we make it happen in Montréal? We have to ask for it.
We have to demand it!
Currently, the borough of Verdun offers a $100 subsidy on the purchase of cloth diapers for parents of children under 6 months of age. The borough of Ville-Marie is another one offering a subsidy. Off island, many smaller communities also have similar programs: visit SubventionCouchesLavables.com to see a complete list. Late last winter, I wrote to my borough, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, to express my desire for a cloth diaper subsidy program. I received an incredibly prompt and positive reply from my then-local-counsellor, Lyn Thériault:
« Vous me voyez ravie de votre demande aujourd’hui car c’est déjà pour moi un dossier que j’ai entrepris voilà quelques semaines. Nous sommes présentement à verifier auprès de partenaires en environnement de quelle manière nos citoyennes pourraient profiter de ce programme. Dès que j’aurai plus d’information à ce sujet je me ferai un plaisir de vous transmettre tout l’information. »
“I was thrilled to receive your request today because this is a dossier that I have taken on in recent weeks. We are currently discussing with our environmental partners how our citizens could benefit from this program. As soon as I have more information on this subject, I would be happy to forward all the information to you.”
Unfortunately, I haven’t heard anything else since then, despite follow-up emails that I’ve sent. In fact, I appeared on Montreal’s Day Break morning show to discuss the lack of response from my borough’s representatives. I encourage you to bombard your local representatives with messages expressing your desire for this sort of program in your area. I have written a form letter for you to copy & paste should you so desire. (A letter written from the heart is surely more effective, but if you’re a busy parent, my form letter will still get the point across!) For Montréal residents, you can visit the city’s web page and use the contact form (select your borough in the dropdown menu so the message goes to the right place) to send your message. I suggest we also all send the same message directly to our mayor, using this contact form.
Letter to copy & paste:
Dear Sir or Madam, ***if you know the name of your elected representative, use it***
Our family uses cloth diapers, and I am convinced of the benefits of cloth not only for my child, but also for the environment. This choice eliminates one ton of waste per child, and our landfills are already overflowing: if every family chose cloth, imagine what a difference that could make! To encourage more and more families to choose cloth diapers, I am asking you to work towards a cloth diaper subsidy program, similar to that being offered already in other cities and boroughs, including Verdun. Thank you so much for your commitment towards our planet and our families.
***this link leads to French info*** For more information on the advantages of such a program, and how to start one, please visit:
Et en français…
A qui de droit, (Si vous connaissez le nom de votre représentant, utilisez-le!)
Nous sommes une famille qui utilise des couches lavables, et je suis convaincue des bienfaits de cette pratique non seulement pour mon enfant, mais aussi pour l’environnement. Ce choix permet d’éviter une tonne de déchets par enfant, et nos sites d’enfouissement débordent déjà: si toutes les familles choisissaient les couches lavables, imaginez la différence! Pour inciter de plus en plus de familles à choisir les couches lavables, je vous prie de travailler en faveur d’une subvention pour les couches lavables, telle qui est déjà offerte dans d’autres villes et arrondissements. Je vous remercie de votre travail et de votre engagement envers notre planète et nos familles.
Pour vous informer sur les bienfaits d’un tel programme et les démarches à suivre, veuillez consulter :
Je vous prie d’agréer, l’expression de mes sentiments les plus distingués,
Does your city have a subsidy? Will you contact your elected representatives to demand one?
Gotta pay the bills...