If you're not a cloth diapering parent, I get why that sentence would be confusing. Here's the deal. Back in 2011, a few news stories ran about impoverished parents not having enough money for disposable diapers, so they would rinse and reuse disposables.
Think about that for a minute. You might say to yourself "There's no way I would EVER do that to my baby. I'd just find a way to get more diapers". To which I can only say "Then you've never been truly poor". There are NO national or state provided programs to provide diapers, and while some charities will provide them, they run out fast. WIC doesn't provide diapers, and food stamps can't pay for toiletries - only food. (That means the poor are often without toilet paper, too - when you make your next food bank donation, maybe drop off a few packs of TP and maxi pads. They'll be thrilled.)
So Kim from Dirty Diaper Laundry thought about this. The people who were in need usually were living in apartments with no washers or dryers, and couldn't afford the high prices of the fancier cloth diapers anyway. BUT - then she thought of flats! Flats ( or flatfold diapers) are a single layer of cotton, usually 27" square, that can be folded to fit any baby of any size. They wash easily, since there are no thick layers or elastic, and they dry quickly on the line. And they're cheap! You can buy flour sack towels at Target for $4 a 4 pack (many people used to make their diapers out of flour sacks) or better yet - go to the thrift store on half price day, buy a bunch of XXL cotton t-shirts for $.50, and make 2 flats from the front and back!
(Not to brag, but I totally gave her this idea. She'll tell you so herself. :) )
The challenge part of this upcoming week? Use only flats with your choice of covers, wash them BY HAND, and hang them or iron them dry.
I won't be participating - I did this for realsies in 2002 and 2003, and I feel like that buys me an out now that I have my own washer and dryer. Also, I have a lot of prefolds, AIOs, and training pants - if I add a batch of flats to the mix, I'll be out of room.
But I do support this challenge, because it shows that nearly anyone can afford to cloth diaper AND can do it without a washing machine. (I say nearly, because, yes, some people truly can't. No time, no strength, chronic pain, etc.) I HAD to do this when my daughter was a baby, because we would have had to choose between diapers and food, gas, or utilities. It saved us $75 a month when we really needed it, but more than anything, it saved me from worrying about it. No matter what else happened, I knew that I had the resources to keep my baby clean and dry. I may have had to scrub them out in the bathroom sink every night and hang them to dry all over the bathroom, and the best covers I could get were vinyl pull-on pants, but I still had this covered, so to speak. I might not even have enough money to do one load at the laundromat, but I could still wash the diapers and have them ready for my baby.
I've heard some people complain that it was degrading to ask poor people to use cloth diapers. I never felt like it was degrading - I felt like I was being self-reliant, which is a rare feeling when you're poor. When you're poor, you always have to ask for things - a ride, gas money, toilet paper - and after a while you start to feel like a bum. This was one thing I didn't have to ask for. Diapers? No thanks - we've got that covered.