Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Mother Of Eden Boycott

Mother of Eden, a company that sells various “natural” children’s products such as cloth diapers, wetbags, and cloth wipes as well as reusable menstrual products and nursing pads, was founded by Tereson Dupuy. Fuzzi Bunz cloth diapers are the best known Mother of Eden products, and the company reports annual sales exceeding $2,500,000.

According to their press kit, the Fuzzi Bunz pocket diaper was “invented” by Ms. Dupuy in January 1999. She began selling the diapers a short time later, and filed a patent pending application in 2000. A patent application followed in 2001, and on July 31, 2003, Ms. Dupuy was granted a patent for her “invention.”

Fuzzi Bunz are now touted on their website to be the “#1 cloth diaper” and are frequently mentioned in magazine articles and spotted on the bottoms of celebrity babies.

Our Reasons for Boycotting Mother of Eden:

Reason One: The Questionable Fuzzi Bunz Patent

At the time that the Fuzzi Bunz patent was granted, several individuals raised complaints that pocket-style diapers had been available prior to Ms. Dupuy’s “invention” of Fuzzi Bunz in 1999. In an “essay” published on her website, Ms. Dupuy defended her “invention” by claiming that any other pocket diapers on the market prior to hers were “obscure” and “hard to find.” In one portion of her essay, Ms. Dupuy stated that she most likely did not invent the pocket diaper.

As an example of a pocket diaper available six years before Ms. Dupuy “invented” Fuzzi Bunz, an advertisement for “Kangawrap—the diaper cover with a pocket” was printed in the Summer 1993 issue of Mothering magazine. Retailers included the children’s product catalog “One Step Ahead,” and large print declared that the diaper had been available in Europe for twenty years before being introduced to the United States

If Ms. Dupuy was aware of any pocket diaper available prior to her “invention,” the rules regarding United States Patents are very clear—she was required to inform the United States Patent Office of this “prior art” in her patent application, even if it could cause her patent to not be granted.

Reason Two: Manufacturing Concerns

When Fuzzi Bunz were “invented,” Ms. Dupuy relied heavily as marketing her company as a “work at home mom” and not a nameless, faceless corporation.

Despite the personal attention that “work at home mom” implies, Fuzzi Bunz soon started being produced by a manufacturer, and problems began to emerge. Issues with sizing consistency and the lifespan of the elastic were frequent. Changes were made in the materials used from batch to batch, causing confusion among consumers for whom one Fuzzi Bunz diaper fit and worked well, but their next purchase was something completely different.

In 2006, the manufacturing of Fuzzi Bunz was moved to a factory in CD Juarez, Mexico, a city known for sweatshop working conditions and the kidnapping, rape, and murders of female workers as they make their way to and from work. Mother of Eden quickly brushed aside consumer concerns over this change by saying that Ms. Dupuy had visited the factory personally, and had made sure that the workers creating Fuzzi Bunz were receiving a fair wage as well as transport to and from the factory.

Despite these reassurances, problems abounded, from inconsistent size, shape, snap and elastic placement to tags with misspellings. As news of the change became better known, calls for a boycott of Fuzzi Bunz were circulated. Mother of Eden made the well-publicized choice to return to using only manufacturers in the United States.

Recently, retailers and consumers became aware that manufacturing (at least for a portion of Fuzzi Bunz) has been relocated to China. Ms. Dupuy has publicly posted on a cloth diaper messageboard that she is “very proud of the factory that we have [in China] and a partner of mine is overseeing all production. . . None of our retailers or customers liked when we had a 9 week backlog several months ago. . . This was our solution and one we are very happy with.”

In response to concerns over the general safety of goods made in China (and the desire to not see US products being ‘outsourced’ to overseas manufacturers), Ms. Dupuy says “I am working on writing a document about oversees [sic] production vs US production and what people are not understanding, mostly due to general consensus and stereotype – is that there are virtually NO USA based cut and sew facilities for small businesses anymore.”

Reason Three: A Questionable One-Size Design

In late December 2008, Ms. Dupuy made a statement in a promotional mass email announcing the upcoming “introduction of our new patent pending One Size FuzziBunz—you have never seen anything like it!” A short time later, an authorized retailer displayed photographs of the highly anticipated “innovative” diaper, which uses “buttonhole” elastic in the legs as the means of adjustment.

In a posting on a cloth diaper messageboard, Ms. Dupuy explained, “I did attempt a one size a year ago but I did not like it. In short – it was just too similar to all of the rest of the one size out there. . .I am a big stickler about intellectual property. I don’t like taking what other people have done and incorporate it into my own product. So I could not justify using a snap down function to make FuzziBunz a one size. . .And I do pride myself on originality. . .So I came up with something original. . .We have been testing it for the last 4 months with actual babies.”

According to the history provided at , Fuzzi Bunz is simply the most recent cloth diaper to use adjustable leg elastic, with the oldest entry there coming in 2005 from Mother Eve.

What We Are Asking For:

We are calling on all cloth diaper users and retailers to boycott Mother of Eden products until:

  1. Tereson Dupuy willfully relinquishes her United States patent claim and all associated rights to exclusive ownership of the “pocket diaper”
  2. Mother of Eden finds a manufacturing resource in a country with fewer human rights offenses. Better still, we encourage Mother of Eden—as a company with sales of over 2.5 million dollars—to develop their own fair-wage manufacturing facility in the United States.
  3. Tereson Dupuy willfully relinquishes her patent-pending claim to the “buttonhole” elastic leg adjusting One Size diaper design, and ceases production and sale of said design.