Record-breaking babies: Syracuse hosts a Great Cloth Diaper Changing event

When the store Basic Baby decided to take part in an international Guinness World Records Diaper Changing challenge, dozens of local families came out to support the cause

Removing babies’ soiled, stinky diapers surely doesn't make anyone's list of most pleasant parenting moments.

But a Syracuse couple, Colleen and Josh Fox, found a way to make the best of a smelly situation by making this necessary daily task environmentally by advocating using the old-fashioned cloth diapers.

The couple opened Basic Baby, a retail store specializing in cloth diapers, in 2011. Soon after, the couple decided to organize an annual Great Cloth Diaper Change event as part of a worldwide attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the greatest number of cloth diapers changed simultaneously. A nonprofit called Real Diaper Association organizes the large-scale event. 

This year, on April 20, more than 60 families gathered together at the Syracuse ShoppingTown Mall for 2013's Great Cloth Diaper Change.

“It’s really nice to see all these people join each other and create this community,” said Colleen Fox. “You feel a sense of camaraderie here.”

Syracuse was one of the 285 locations from 17 countries across the world taking part in this challenge, which started at 11 a.m. local time. Participants planned to beat last year’s record by getting more than 8,251 whippersnappers out of old diapers and into the new at the same time worldwide. 

The Great Cloth Diaper Change focuses on more than just breaking a world record, though. Using cloth, instead of disposable diapers, presents many participants with an eco-friendly, economical, and healthy choice -- even if it does mean forgoing a modern convenience.

“I like cloth diapers. They save money, and they are good for the environment,” said Great Cloth Diaper Change participant Andrea Sirenko. “People think that it's so much work, but really it’s just one extra load of slaundry every couple days.”

Disposable diapers last centuries in landfills, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the average infant uses about 8,000 diapers. In 1998, disposable diapers equalled around 3.4 million tons of waste total, or 2.1 percent of overall garbage in U.S. landfills, the EPA says.

In comparison, cloth diapers are degradable, don't contain potentially harmful chemicals (like dioxins) which are used in manufactoruing disposable diapers, and can be reused after washing. Various venues even host diaper exchange events where parents resell lightly-used cloth diapers.

Besides taking less of a toll on Mother Earth, cloth diapers also save parents significant amounts of money. Disposables can cost parents about $4,000 from birth to potty-training, while cloth diapers may cost from $100 to $800 per baby, according to Fox.

Following Saturday’s Great Cloth Diaper Change, the Foxes also organized the CNY Baby Expo which featured more than 75 local small businesses that offer services for new parents.

“I think this is a fantastic event, it’s great to see all these expecting moms and families out here enjoying themselves," said Anna-Marie Simpson, a vendor at the expo and the owner of Simpson Family Wellness in Elbridge. "It’s also a great networking opportunity for the businesses.”

Changing diapers, Fox admits, is not an experience that most parents particularly enjoy. “But you know you are not wasting money when you change a cloth diaper," Fox said. "And that makes it stink a little bit less."

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