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Feb 11th
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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.”

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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