Nicole Richie, Kelly Sawyer Patricof & Norah Weinstein | 2018 MAKERS Conference
Nicole Richie, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Actress, Kelly Sawyer Patricof and Norah Weinstein, Co-Presidents of the children's non-profit Baby2Baby, on the diaper crisis in our country.
- Ladies and gentlemen, Nicole Richie, Kelly Sawyer Patricof, and Norah Weinstein.
NICOLE RICHIE: Hey, everybody. Hi. I'm Nicole Richie, and I am a Baby2Baby board member. Baby2Baby is a nonprofit that provides low-income children ages 0 through 12 with diapers, clothing, and all of the basic necessities that every child deserves.
Over the past six years, we've distributed 34 million items to children in need, including more than 20 million diapers. Can you believe that mothers are choosing between diapers and food? Diapers are literally causing a cycle of poverty, and that's why we're talking about diapers today.
So let me turn it over to these two diaper queens-- Kelly Sawyer Patricof and Norah Weinstein, and they're going to tell you why it's #morethanadiaper.
NORAH WEINSTEIN: Sure. So Baby2Baby distributes everything a child needs, from cribs to car seats, strollers, blankets, bottles, backpacks, school supplies-- but when we ask a mom, a dad, or a social worker what they need most, there's one item that tops every list, every time, and it's diapers. They are truly like gold to the families we serve.
NICOLE RICHIE: Gold-- and why is that so important, Kelly?
KELLY SAWYER PATRICOF: It's because babies need so many of them-- up to 12 per day. It's because they're expensive-- $70 to $80 per month, per baby. Think about that math when you have multiple kids.
NORAH WEINSTEIN: It's also because poor families are paying two times as much as wealthier families for diapers. When you're living paycheck-to-paycheck, they just don't have the extra funds to buy in bulk.
KELLY SAWYER PATRICOF: A study last year actually showed that the four things low-income families are spending the most money on each month are food, heat, rent, and diapers.
NICOLE RICHIE: So we keep talking about how families don't have enough diapers. So what are families doing about that?
KELLY SAWYER PATRICOF: Families are literally emptying out their baby's diaper, hanging it to dry, and then putting it back on their baby. That's how bad it is.
NICOLE RICHIE: It's unfathomable.
NORAH WEINSTEIN: You might be asking why these families don't just use cloth diapers, but we want to put that suggestion to rest today.
The low-income families who Baby2Baby work with do not have washing machines in their homes, and that's if they have homes at all, and laundromats are certainly not particularly welcoming to women coming with bags of dirty diapers to wash them there.
NICOLE RICHIE: So is that BYOD thing really true?
NORAH WEINSTEIN: It's shockingly true. Parents have to bring a full day's supply of diapers, which is about six to eight, in order to drop off their child at daycare or preschool. If you don't have that requisite number of diapers, your child cannot stay.
KELLY SAWYER PATRICOF: It's even worse than that. Not only does the child lose that opportunity to jumpstart their early education, but the parents can't go back to work, they can't go to a job interview, because they can't drop off their kids. So let's face it-- we know the overwhelming majority are the moms.
NICOLE RICHIE: So these low-income parents are forced to stay at home instead of working. It might look like just a diaper, but it's more than a diaper. Diapers translate into opportunities.
So let's talk about government assistance. Is there any at all for the diapers?
KELLY SAWYER PATRICOF: No. Food stamps don't even cover diapers, and even worse than that, there are still 38 states that charge sales tax on diapers. They are taxing diapers the same way they're taxing a luxury item, and I don't-- and I know everyone in this room doesn't think there's anything luxurious about a diaper.
NICOLE RICHIE: So diapers have the same tax as tequila?
KELLY SAWYER PATRICOF: Exactly.
NICOLE RICHIE: Mm-hmm.
NORAH WEINSTEIN: We've personally testified in Sacramento to remove sales tax from diapers, and we lost-- two times.
NICOLE RICHIE: That's unbelievable. So how can we change that?
NORAH WEINSTEIN: We're going to try again this year.
KELLY SAWYER PATRICOF: We'll be back.
NICOLE RICHIE: OK, let me switch subjects for a second. Kelly, can you tell us about how Baby2Baby has been involved with the disaster relief efforts over the past year?
KELLY SAWYER PATRICOF: Yes. When Houston was devastated by Hurricane Harvey, the first thing we did was we sent over a million diapers to the relief efforts, because when your baby doesn't have diapers, you can't do anything else.
You can't go to work, you can't take your child to daycare, and you certainly can't file an insurance claim to rebuild your house. You first need to help your baby with their most basic needs.
NORAH WEINSTEIN: We flew to Houston and spent time in the shelters and can tell you firsthand, these families were desperate for diapers, and it was the same story when the hurricane then hit Florida, and then Puerto Rico, and then just this last month with the terrible fires across California. The families come to us for diapers first.
NICOLE RICHIE: I'm so proud that Baby2Baby has sent over four million basic essentials to the children affected by all of the recent disasters. Let's talk about some people who've helped make this happen.
KELLY SAWYER PATRICOF: We have this great group of women behind Baby2Baby. We call them our angels. There's you, of course.
NICOLE RICHIE: That's right.
KELLY SAWYER PATRICOF: And Julie Bowen, Kerry Washington, Jessica Alba, Kelly Rowland, Drew Barrymore, Gwyneth Paltrow-- the list goes on and on.
NORAH WEINSTEIN: And our angels are how we get donations of diapers. We've tried to flip corporate sponsorships on their head a little bit. So when Huggies calls us and asks if they can get a celebrity host for an event, we ask, well, that depends how many diapers you can give us.
NICOLE RICHIE: So that's why you're always making me pose with Huggies diapers?
KELLY SAWYER PATRICOF: Yes.
NICOLE RICHIE: OK. I thought you were trying to give me a hint.
KELLY SAWYER PATRICOF: No. To date, because of you and this phenomenal group of women we have behind us, Huggies has donated over 11.6 million diapers to the low-income families in our program.
NORAH WEINSTEIN: And another great day at Baby2Baby was when the Honest Company's strawberry toothpaste accidentally came out tasting too much like raspberry. They donated 23,000 tubes of it to us. They couldn't sell it, and of course our families were delighted to have it, so it was a win-win.
NICOLE RICHIE: And yes, and even though the conversation is about diapers, we can actually do the same thing with sneakers, backpacks, hygiene products, cribs, toys, and warm coats, right?
KELLY SAWYER PATRICOF: Yeah. So this is what we're going to ask of you today-- if you run a company, work at a company that makes diapers or other basic essentials, please consider donating product to us. If you have an e-commerce site, please offer free shipping or discounted pricing to nonprofits.
Also for us, Baby2Baby social media is how we garner diaper donations and donations of the other items that we give to our low-income families, so follow us on social media, like our photos, re-tweet our tweets. We do a lot of social media campaigns around diapers and other basic essentials.
NORAH WEINSTEIN: And let's insist that diapers are always available to new moms. As female business leaders in this room, we want to make sure that there's not a single low-income woman missing work because of diapers.
NICOLE RICHIE: So today we're asking all of you who leave here to leave here and do something about it. This is a serious crisis in our country. It truly is #morethanadiaper. Thank you.
KELLY SAWYER PATRICOF: Thank you.
MAKERS amplifies the dialogue around harassment, equal pay and other urgent issues, pushing the women's movement forward. #RAISEYOURVOICE