How Cubans Recycle Disposable Diapers
May 29, 2013
Mercedes Gonzalez Amade
HAVANA TIMES — Becoming a mother is one of the greatest challenges a
woman can take on. Today, faced with endless financial woes, women have
to work miracles to give their children what's best.
In Cuba, nearly all baby products are sold in hard currency stores, at
prices that are exorbitant for anyone living on a basic salary of 250
Cuban pesos (the equivalent of 10 CUCs).
Today, many people are using disposable diapers, or Pampers. At first
glance, they seem to be immensely practical for mothers, saving them
time, energy and – most importantly – money. But things aren't that simple.
These diapers are a good deal while the baby is still small. A package
of extra-small diapers contains anywhere from 20 to 30 diapers. As you
go up in size, however, the price increases and the quality of the
If your child is anything like mine, who weighed as much as a
four-month-old baby when he was only two months old, this will take a
big bite out of your paycheck. Cuban women must therefore rely on their
innate ingenuity: in order to save, they recycle.
Let me briefly explain how we do this.
First, you unfold the used diaper and remove the padding. Then, you wash
the body of the diaper and hang it out to dry. Once the diaper has
dried, you fold two cloth diapers in four and stuff them into the pocket
where the padding, or "gut" (as we call it), once was. If the adhesive
has worn off, we use two safety pins to keep the diaper on the baby.
You can do this as many times as you can wash and dry the diaper without
destroying it. Sometimes, the much-needed "guts" are sold at stores,
but, since they're in such high demand, they run out quickly. The cloth
replacement padding is easy to wash, if soiled.
I can confidently say this method is used by 90 % of Cuban women. Though
it is reassuring to know one's child is protected by the diaper, one
must remember that, when the child begins to walk and talk, the diaper
should be removed so that the baby begins to grow out of the habit and
to gain control over his or her sphincter.
Unfortunately, not all mothers are of the same opinion, and I've seen
kids as old as two walking around with the "disposable" diapers.
I also used them for my kid, but, when he turned nine months old, I made
him wear cloth diapers or small jockeys. It took a lot of patience and
effort, but Carlos stopped peeing himself at 10 months, so I was able to
save a fair amount of money. Today, he is eleven. I still keep the cloth
diapers he used back in the day.