Secrets of Our Fabulously Frugal Family

My eco-baby, Leroi, loves cloth diapers!

I hated disposable diapers – the cost and the waste.

Imagine how ecstatic I was when I discovered that my baby and I LOVE cloth diapers.

I was skeptical because it did seem like a lot of extra work – figuring out how to put them on and washing – especially dealing with the baby poop.

But Leroi was happy from the first moment I put cloth on him. He is comfortable longer in them and there is less diaper rash, actually none now.

When my husband and I first adopted we were so overwhelmed with the new responsibility of having a child we did what was easiest (or at least what was seemingly most readily available) for everything – including diapers.

After about 3 weeks I looked into cloth diapers. There is no way (that I know of) to test cloth diapers so after doing some online research we decided to try Flip diapers for day time use and Blueberry for night time or extended wear.

The Flip have cloth inserts (these were great because I could use some of the cloth inserts I received as shower presents that were part of another system) that have vinyl wraps that snap or Velcro together.

The Blueberrys are absolutely my favorite because they keep Leroi the most dry. These are diapers that are waterproof with designs on the outside and the other side is fleece – both sides sewn together so you can put cloth layers inside the pocket. I use 2 or 3 inserts at nighttime.

For keeping the baby dry and happy, disposables can’t even come close. I thought I would have to use a service to clean them but washing in the machine is very easy. This has saved us a ton of money and I feel better about much less waste!

So what else can we do to be frugal when it comes to babies? has been a great help in finding very cheap but great quality toys and other useful items like strollers. For instance, I got a great jogging stroller for $15 that sells new for $250 – the gears had rusted a little so the front wheel would not turn. I just took a few of the pieces apart, cleaned them and put it back together and it’s been as good as new.

Gently used clothes cost so much less!

Mom-to-Mom sales ( have been great for high quality low cost cloths and some toys and essentials.

One of the big problems for those of us in Detroit proper is that they are always out in the suburbs and not very convenient to get to and the timing is off.

By far the most reliable place that I can always go to for crazy-cheap used, but very nice clothes, is the Salvation Army on Plymouth and Farmington roads. Outfits run around $2 (and I bought a very nice wood cradle for Leroi there for $40 that he slept in till he was 4 months old).

In some ways I feel like living simply and more frugally took a turn for me with these cloths diapers (as it has always been our first year ‘starting’ goal for as long as I can remember).

Taking this diaper step has given me confidence and a chance to be expansive in how I think about living more simply – or more simply for me.

By the way, my partner and I have recently been able to move into a house that cut our mortgage payment in half. Our new home is only two miles from where we both now work downtown.

Given the size and convenience of our new home we have been able to arrange renting out a few rooms saving even more. So we save on gas, home payments and we plan to bike as the weather gets better.

And if there have been ‘game changer’ steps in your life that have helped you live more simply I would love to hear them.


About Diana

Imagine a work place where we can just be ourselves - our true authentic, beautiful selves. Diana Copeland believes that this is the only way to live our lives and has had the opportunity in her role as executive director for the environmental justice organization, East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC), to invite others to pioneer this approach with her. In revealing her authentic self, Diana has found happiness in ways that often press against cultural norms. As a trained engineer she's escaped the male-imbued dictums of that straight-laced profession. As a leader, she is one of many on her team. As a partner, she's married to Will, a sensitive, loving man of another race and as a new mother, she's devoted to her adopted son, Leroi, whose African heritage is allowing her feminine sensibilities to explore raising a male child with the values that she herself holds sacred. These are her musings about navigating the shifting grounds of her life in Detroit.

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