Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Aug 21st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Dirt on Diapers

news_diaper‘Green’ diaper company wants to keep things clean
The life span of a disposable diaper is interminable. From the time one is thrown out and schlepped away to the nearest landfill, to the point when it has completely broken down can be up to 500 years. It will still be slowly rotting at the bottom of a toxic pit long after you, and your diaper-wearing bundle of joy, are gone.

According to Karen Nelsen, one of the founders of the EarthBaby diaper company, disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills, preceded only by paper (Number One) and beverage containers. (Both of which are recyclable—go figure). The Bay Area alone contributes 375 million diapers to landfills each year, she says

 

“We put [a diaper] in our garbage can, it gets carted away and we forget about it,” Nelsen says. “Disposable diapers are really horrible things that we’ve become accustomed to in our culture. Single use and then into the landfill.”

Even diapers that claim to be “environmentally friendly” or compostable have the same drawn-out landfill fate if they are disposed of improperly. That’s where EarthBaby comes in.

The company, which launched in December 2008, is a compostable baby diaper service: it delivers compostable diaper products to clients’ doorsteps, picks up the soiled diapers once a week, and then has them professionally composted. EarthBaby has composted 29,220 pounds of diapers to date.

“We are providing the means to actually end the cycle, to do what these diapers were designed to do—break down into top soil which in turn enriches the earth,” says Nelsen. Whereas a diaper in a landfill will take three to 500 years to break down, a composted diaper does so in just three months.

EarthBaby founders Nelsen and Mark Siminoff were inspired to create a service-based diaper company that would alleviate the massive and toxic role of diapers in our country’s landfills. Because not only is the sheer mass of soiled disposable diapers stacking up at our dumps a problem, so are the chemicals and gases they release. Conventional disposable diapers are made from oil-based plastics and use bleached materials, a by-product of which—dioxin—is one of main chemical toxins in our groundwater. The company’s vision was to curb the congregation of diapers in landfills, and thus deter subsequent toxic soups from seeping into the earth.


EarthBaby diapers are made from corn-based plastics and wood by-products, and boast of looking, feeling and performing like regular disposable diapers.

The response has been huge, and in only seven months the company has gone from serving a small group of families in Mountain View (where they are based) to 17 nearby cities, including Santa Cruz. EarthBaby will launch in San Francisco next week.

Nelsen, who has lived in Santa Cruz for 16 years, says that one of the company’s main messages is to be wary of things labelled as “environmentally friendly.” She points to packaging on some disposable diapers that tag themselves as eco-this or eco-that but don’t promote proper disposal practices. She warns that, “We all want to be environmentally responsible … but we can still be led astray by labels on packaging.”

She compares this snag to the mandate in Santa Cruz that all to-go materials at restaurants be compostable. “Unless we’re composting it, and sending it to the right place, it also is just going into a landfill. It can’t break down in that environment,” she says. In the case of diapers, EarthBaby is making it easier for consumers of compostable baby products to finish out the environmentally responsible cycle; diverting two tons of compostable diapers a week from landfills to a facility where they can live out their destiny of becoming nutrient-rich top soil.

Nelsen receives a stream of e-mails from as far as the Deep South and East Coast pleading for EarthBaby to service their region. And if their growth in their first few months is indicative of the demand for their product, it is likely they will someday reach the rest of the country. But for now, says Nelsen, the company is taking baby steps, and simply “changing the planet, one diaper at a time.”

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Trending Now

Whether you live by the Vogue bible or choose to go into your day wearing what you slept in, odds are you wear clothes.

 

The Thought Form of Solution

It’s our last week of Leo before the sun enters Virgo (next Friday/Saturday). The planets this week make complex patterns and relationships (vibrational cadences and rhythms) with the outer planets, mainly Neptune—the planet that veils, obscures, protects and finally refines us. Neptune offers us entrance into a deeply spiritual sense of comfort and solace. Neptune is the personality ruler of Pisces (saviors of the world) and soul ruler of Cancer (world mother). “The fish goddesses who leapt from earth (Virgo) to water (Pisces) unitedly give birth to the Fish God (Christ, the Soul) who introduces the waters of life  (Neptune & Aquarius) into the ocean of substance (matter, mother bringing light to the world. Thus does Neptune work.” (Esoteric Astrology).

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Cultures Collide

No surprises, but lots to savor in foodie film ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

 

Foodie File: Kauboi

Japanese-Western themed unites sushi with whiskey and beefgrill

 

How should Santa Cruz develop downtown around the San Lorenzo River?

Santa Cruz | Artist/Show Promoter

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Have Mercy!

Looking for a frisky summer wine at a reasonable price? Look no further than Mercy Vineyards’ 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($20). Richly textured “with an exotic flavor profile,” the wine reveals aromas of honeydew melon and honeysuckle, with anise appearing as a star attraction. Smidgeons of pineapple and honeycomb add a touch of sexiness to this well-balanced, easy-drinking wine, which pairs well with a variety of cuisine —especially ceviche, calamari and other not-too-heavy foods.