EarthBaby – Truly Compostable Diapers!
Some say there are two things in life you can't avoid: death and taxes.
For parents I suggest a third: diapers. And with this reality comes the age old question: cloth or disposable?
For the green-minded, the answer would seem a no-brainer. Cloth-hands down. Especially considering the statistics that suggest as many as 27.4 billion disposable diapers are used each year in the U.S. (according to the EPA, that translates into more than 3.4 million tons of waste dumped into landfills.) That's a butt load! (pun intended).
But suppose there was a third option?
Enter EarthBaby, a Compostable Diaper Service, started 4 years ago by three families in the San Francisco Bay Area. "Our Mission Statement is quite simple," says Karen Nelson, customer relations manager for the company. "EarthBaby's goal is to eliminate disposable diapers and wipes from landfills."
Now, I haven't had diaper duty in a while, but I thought there were compostable diapers already on the market. Nelson set me straight. "Our landfills were not designed to compost.
They are an oxygen deprived cold environment where things just slowly degrade."
Oh, now I get it: unless "compostable" diapers are placed in the right environment, they can't fulfill their mission. Ah-ha!
This is why EarthBaby delivers compostable diapers to their customer's homes, then returns each week to collect the soiled diapers and have them professionally composted; in other words, recycled by Mother Nature.
Composting takes place at a facility licensed to process human waste, the same type of composting facility that deals with municipal solid waste. So, there's no landfill build-up, no oil-based plastics left behind.
"Presently we are diverting more than 10,000 pounds of diaper waste from Bay Area landfill each week and converting it to nutrient rich soil," Nelson adds. To date, they are also the first service of their kind to offer a true compostable diaper service.
Here are a few statistics (the scoop on the poop):
- 350 million - number of diapers dumped in Bay Area Landfill each year
- 200-500 years - estimated time it takes for a plastic diaper to degrade in landfill
- 10-14 weeks - amount of time it takes to turn EarthBaby diapers into dirt when professionally composted.
- 10 pounds - amount of diaper waste that won't go into a landfill every week when you use EarthBaby
Not only is EarthBaby providing a unique service, they are also doing quite well. Starting with only 20 families two years ago, they currently serve more than 1000 families, in 20 cities in the Bay Area. Though future expansion is intended, for the time being Nelson says the company wants to concentrate on the families they serve for now. "We want to get it right in the Bay area where we all live, first."
According to their website, they are certainly making an environmental difference in their neck of the woods: "EarthBaby composted 18,840 pounds this week (as of November 5, 2012) and to date over 1,664,202 pounds of diapers have been diverted from San Francisco Bay Area landfills!"
Along with diaper service, EarthBaby also offers such things as wipes, compostable bags, nursing pads, diaper cream and toiletries.
"I've always been pretty grass roots in the way I raise my kids, the way I shop, buying organic, that kind of thing," Nelson says. "I was raised with chickens and horses, and a huge garden. My parents are huge composters, recyclers; they don't even have a garbage can anymore." Obviously, this mother of 3 learned early on the need for personal environmental responsibility. But she also understands the confusion parents face when it comes to making earth-friendly decisions.
"People want to do the right thing," Nelson says. "They think, (when they use other compostable diapers) this is one area that's solved for me. I don't have to worry about this anymore."
But unfortunately, without the right system to break them down – disposable, compostable - is really, just disposable. EarthBaby hopes to change all this.