Sunday, June 26, 2011

Link List: US Made Cloth Diapers (updated 7/22/11)

Before I get to the list: I've heard a lot of confusion about Chinese manufacturing and why some people choose to avoid all Chinese manufactured items in favor of US made items. Hopefully I can shed a bit of light on this matter.  First of all, this is NOT a matter of racism.  Nor is it a matter of patriotism (well, perhaps it is a little bit for some people).

The sad fact is that China is known for its sweatshops and for manufacturing plants that churn out shoddy, sometimes even toxic goods for cheap prices.  This is not entirely China's fault...there is only a supply where there is a demand, and there is a HUGE demand for cheap Chinese manufactured goods, particularly in developed nations like the US.  Many US companies that want to give their customers a good deal will turn to China for their manufacturing to keep their own manufacturing costs low, so they can impart their savings to their customers (and, honestly, some companies just want to keep their manufacturing costs low so they can make more money). Some companies will try to keep close tabs on the manufacturers to ensure they are meeting quality control standards, however this is hard to do from overseas and inspections of these companies sometimes only happen once a month or even just a few times a year.  So even if the company means well, the quality of their goods can be pretty hit or miss.  Not to mention that the employees in these places are often paid peanuts in horrible work conditions while the owners make out like bandits.

Of course this doesn't mean that there are no sweatshops or questionable manufacturers in the US.  There are (though there are certainly fewer of them and we have stricter labor laws here).  However, often if a company cares enough to move all of its manufacturing to the US it's so they can keep a closer eye on quality control and fair labor practices.  This is particularly true when it comes to products for are far cheaper and easier to manufacture in China, but are often rife with flaws that can be hazardous to a child's health, like toxic lead paint and choking hazards.

I recently bought a toy from a purportedly "eco-friendly" wooden toy company that manufactures mostly in China, and the toy was a mess when it arrived. I was very disappointed because the toy was such a great concept, and could've been great for Jem, but I was afraid he might hurt himself on it.  I returned it.  Another time I received a rocking toy from Freecycle that was really cute but needed some work...the paint was chipping and the wood on the bottom part was not the best quality.  I contacted the company that made it and was told that the reason the rocking part was in such poor shape was that the company used to manufacture in China and had a hard time keeping an eye on quality control.  After numerous complaints, they moved all manufacturing to the US and updated all of the unfortunately the part I needed to replace was no longer available (the customer service rep I spoke to was very nice and did her best to help me out though).  Fortunately in this case the toy was not unsafe, just a little unsightly at the bottom.

Now I have heard of fair trade companies in China, and many companies claim to have close relationships with their Chinese manufacturers and won't part with them. That is their choice, and may be a perfectly valid one.  In fact, any consumer who chooses to purchase Chinese manufactured goods is perfectly within their rights to do so and I would never judge anyone for doing so!  In this day and age it is nearly impossible to ensure that all the materials in the goods we buy have been produced ethically and with the highest quality. However, as a consumer I personally have made a recent choice to try and avoid items manufactured in China to increase the chances of buying quality, non-toxic items and decrease the chances of contributing to unfair labor practices.  I know others choose US manufactured items to support our economy, and while this is a worthy goal I'll admit supporting fair trade practices and quality products are my main reasons for doing so.

Unfortunately this is not always an easy practice, particularly for moms trying to choose items like say, cloth diapers.  To make this particular task easier for others I am providing the following list of US and Canadian manufactured cloth diapers (gotta give our northern neighbor Canada some love too!)  Please note that I have actually only personally tried two of the diapers on this list.  I do plan to try more of them, and I will review them for you when I do!

~ Knickernappies
~ Mommy's Touch
~ Happy Heinys
~ Blueberry (Fabrics sourced in the US and occasionally Turkey, manufactured in US. We have two of their laundry/wet bags and they're great! Would love to try the diapers eventually!)
~ Swaddlebees
~ Weehuggers
~ Bottombumpers
~ Hiney Lineys (these have a very intriguing design! I'm very curious to try them)
~ Best Bottoms
~ DryBees (I own one of these and I like it...though I'll admit a preference for pocket dipes over all-in-ones)
~ LolliDoos
~ SustainableBabyish wool knits (I have visited their store in person and was impressed by the knowledge and passion of their owner, Erin, though I have yet to work up the courage to try wool dipes!)

~MonkeyDoodlez - manufactured in Canada by WAHMS!

~ BumGenius - diapers sold in the US are manufactured in the US, all others are manufactured in Egypt.  We have several of these and love them, particularly for overnight use.
~ Thirsties - manufacture in the US and I believe Canada (I may be wrong about this, but I do know they do not manufacture in China)

I have also heard that Kissaluvs manufactures mostly in the US, but have been unable to confirm where the rest of their materials are manufactured.

This is not a complete list by any means...I will try to update as I confirm the manufacturing practices of other CD companies!

I will also advise those of you who take this kind of thing seriously to beware of claims like "90% manufactured in the USA." I saw one such claim on the website of an increasingly popular diaper company, however when I asked about this I was told that everything except the diaper covers were US manufactured...the covers themselves were, unsurprisingly, manufactured in China.  Since covers are probably one of the most essential and most popular diapering items, I found this claim to be highly misleading.

Hope this list was helpful to some of you! Good night all!

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