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Changing the Earth, one diaper at a time

Ten-month-old Levi Urban didn’t know he was participating in some big Earth Day event that might land in the Guinness World Records. All he knew was that his mom had an imperative need to change his diaper right in the middle of nap time.

Within minutes, the sleepy, blond-haired baby was zonked out again against his mom’s gray T-shirt, sporting a hip cloth diaper with the wizard Harry Potter on the butt.

Levi was among the youngest participants in Saturday’s bevy of Earth Day events. Though Earth Day is Monday, many environmental and green-conscious groups used the weekend to maximize volunteer participation in everything from park cleanups to tree plantings throughout the region.

In Hamburg, 45 parents with their babies and toddlers packed into a small backroom of the Fresh & Fluffy cloth diaper retailer as part of the international “Great Cloth Diaper Change” event. The event was designed to raise awareness about use of planet-friendly cloth diapers as an alternative to disposable diapers, which take hundreds of years to decompose.

The Fresh & Fluffy shop, which opened in March 2012, was a first-time participant in the event, which is in its third year and takes place at 225 sites in 15 countries, said shop owner Stephanie Makowski. At last year’s event, 8,251 cloth diapers were changed around the world, setting a Guinness record.

Local participants grabbed a spot on the taped-off backroom floor and got down to business at 11 a.m. sharp, amid the cooing and howling baby noises, bulging diaper bags, changing pads and loose socks. Prizes were awarded for the cutest diaper fashionistas, as well.

Levi’s mom, Erin Urban, said she loves cloth diapers because they save money and are good for the earth. But mostly, she said, she loves them because they’re less gross to deal with.

“Growing up, with all my cousins, I found disposable diapers disgusting,” said Urban, 27, adding, “With disposables, you can’t exactly get Harry Potter on them.”

The diaper-changing event was a bit unusual among the daylong catalog of Earth Day events.

Other volunteer activities included the planting of 160 trees in Buffalo’s Old First Ward by Re-Tree Western New York, the cleanup and removal of invasive plants at the Penn Dixie Paleontological Center, and the mobilization of more than 1,700 volunteers as part of the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper’s annual spring cleanup event at 43 waterfront locations across the region.