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Archive for Sunday, January 20, 1991

DIAPER SERVICES CASH IN ON ECOLOGICAL AWARENESS

January 20, 1991

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Attitudes about changing diapers are, well, changing.

Disposable diapers, which unpinned parents from such nasties as diaper pails, plastic pants and dipping, are now under environmental scrutiny because of landfill space problems.

Consequently, a growing number of parents are taking another look at cloth diapers.

And two new home-based local businesses are among hundreds of diaper services starting up across the country that offer customers the convenience of disposables without the environmental guilt.

"Most mothers with newborns are switching to the cloth diapers," says Susan Cooley, president of Special Delivery Diaper Service Inc.

"There are definitely a lot of people going back to cloth diapers," says Janet Carr, owner of White Cloud Diaper Service.

THE TWO local diaper service businesses, which started independently within the last 1 years, follow on the heels of a growing national awareness of the landfill woes caused by disposables.

Applications are growing for membership in the National Association of Diaper Services (NADS), says Kathy Mautz, assistant to the executive director of the organization, based in Philadelphia.

So far the trade association has about 140 members, plus about 50 associate members. About 20 new businesses have applied for membership during the last three months, she said.

"Last year we had 90 apply for membership. It's been growing over the last two years," Mautz said. "We've really been seeing an increase."

The main reason for growth is concern about landfill problems and waste management, Mautz said.

"PEOPLE DON'T want to contribute to that problem. They want to use a cotton diaper," she said. "Also people are becoming more aware of wanting something soft that goes against the baby's skin. They don't want plastic. They want cotton."

The longest-running area diaper service is General Diaper Service, which serves the Kansas City area and Lawrence. The business is a division of General Health Care Corp.

Jack Mogavero, president of General Health Care, which is based in Piscataway, N.J., said his 50-year-old business has 13 locations across the country.

Business has increased "tremendously" in the last year, mainly because of environmental concerns, he said.

"We've gone up 46 to 47 percent in just a little over a year," Mogavero said. "I think it's all being driven by outside forces. We didn't become geniuses overnight. I think people are concerned about what kind of legacy they're going to leave to their children and grandchildren."

MOGAVERO said services are springing up all over the country and competition will be good for his business if the new services provide pH-controlled diapers that have been placed in bacteriostatic solution.

Susan Cooley, president of Special Delivery Diaper Service, estimated that at least 50 percent of the parents of newborns are using diaper services.

"Cloth diapers are not what they used to be, in that you don't have to rinse the diapers and used pins and plastic pants," she said. "The service is just as inexpensive as disposable. . . . People feel like it makes sense in every way, for the environment, for their pocketbook and for the convenience."

Cooley said her service "has been growing like crazy" since she started in the last week of April. Her business has grown from two to more than 100 customers during that time.

"One day we got eight new ones within 24 hours," she said.

COOLEY SAID she contracts out her cleaning to a professional cleaning service in Kansas City, Kan., which does laundry for hospitals as well.

"I've always been really concerned about the environment. It's a combination of a good purpose and a good business venture," she said.

Janet Carr, owner of White Cloud Diaper Service, said she started the service in December 1989.

"What got me into it was that several mothers had mentioned Lawrence didn't have its own diaper service," she said.

She said that Gene Beason, of Continental Diaper Service in Topeka, helped her get started and schooled her in getting supplies and in diaper washing techniques, using the proper detergents and getting the proper pH levels and in how to use a bacteriostat.

CARR SAID she generally averages about one new customer a day, and as many as three new customers in a day.

Carr, said she is now providing pickup and delivery service in Lawrence and Eudora and surrounding areas.

Media reports generally spur on her business, she said.

"When something comes out on the environment, I get two to three new customers," she said.

She said a year's supply of diapers through her service 66 diapers a week as an average, costs $497.93. The same quantity of large disposable diapers costs about $1,070, with medium-sized disposables at $780.

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