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31 Jan, Tuesday
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Montreal Families

It pays to use cloth diapers in some towns

Cloth diapers have made a big comeback in recent years thanks to families who want to reduce their environmental impact (no diapers in the landfills) and a new generation of easy-to-use diapering systems that are a far cry from the old folded cloths and bulky covers. However, cloth diapers require more money upfront. Kits can start at $150 and go up to $700 for a complete system, making the initial outlay taxing on the family budget. But thanks to one woman’s mission to make cloth diapers more affordable, some families are now enjoying a $100 rebate provided by their towns.

Estelle Morin is a co-owner of the baby supply store Mère Hélène, which has locations in Lasalle and Brossard. Two years ago, a group of parents from Coaticook in the Eastern Townships contacted her for information about why cloth diapers were better for the environment.

As she did more research, Morin read that a baby in disposable diapers would produce one ton of diaper waste destined for the landfill by the time he or she is 2 years old. Morin also discovered that towns paid close to $100 to dispose of each ton of waste. Looking at the those figures, the people in Coaticook thought it made sense to ask the town to contribute $100 towards the purchase of cloth diaper kits, since they would then be saving money on waste going to the landfills.

Seeing the potential for this movement to spread across the province, Morin launched a website www.subventioncoucheslavables.com, which gives information to the public about how to approach their borough to start such a funding program as well as listing more than 114 towns across Quebec that have approved similar funding.

The website prompted sisters Sandra and Stephanie Le Vaguerèze, owners of a maternity and baby supply store called Bedon et Fripons, to approach their town of Vaudreuil-Dorion. Much to their delight, the town adopted a trial program last spring that allocates $100 for families willing to switch from disposable to cloth diapers during the next year. The program is open to residents who buy a minimum of 20 reusable diapers and have a child 1-year-old or younger. A cheque is issued once proof of purchase is given to town officials.

Hugues Charbonneau, Vaudreuil-Dorion Environmental Department Director, says to date only 13 families have applied for a rebate. However, he expects that the demand will rise as parents learn about it. He adds that a request will be made to make the program permanent.

Morin acknowledges that it isn’t easy to organize a rebate program, so her website offers information to citizens and towns on how to get the process going. “I would like to see every town in Quebec offer funding,” she says.

If you would like information about how to try and get your borough on board, go to www.subventioncoucheslavables.com.

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