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Modern Cloth Diapers

Red-Hot Eco Moms - Redbook Article

RedbookIt's only natural to want to make the world a better place for your child. These 8 women did something about it — from designing eco-friendly diapers to creating an environmentally safe, completely ingestible toy cleaner.

THE CHALLENGE Find a convenient alternative to disposable diapers — a major household contributor to landfills.

THE EARTH-FRIENDLY SOLUTION A hybrid cloth and disposable diaper system.

When Kim Ormsby had her first baby nine years ago, she balked at the idea of using cloth diapers. Who needed more laundry to do? But after six months of going through about 10 disposables a day, she tried cloth. Turns out they weren't bulky and didn't require pins, like the ones from her childhood. The extra laundry was manageable, Kim was saving money, and she was glad not to add more trash to local landfills.

Recognizing all the benefits, including environmental and financial, Kim was sure other parents would be interested in becoming cloth converts. So when she was laid off from her engineering job after 9/11, she saw her freedom as the chance to turn her inspiration into reality. She used her credit card's $15,000 limit to set up an online cloth diaper business. She developed a customer base, which spread the word, and in 2006, her husband quit his job to help secure loans and create the company, complete with a retail store, a corporate office, and a name: The Natural Baby Co.

Cloth was still a hard sell to parents who liked the idea of being eco-conscious but preferred the convenience of disposables. So in 2009, with help from a designer, Kim launched the Gro Baby system, featuring a waterproof outer shell that gives parents the option of attaching a cloth insert or an eco-friendly disposable one; the shell can be used up to four times before needing to be washed. The system, now called GroVia, is sold at hundreds of retailers, including Whole Foods and Costco. An organic cloth set costs $25; a box of 50 biodegradable disposables is $20. "What's great," Kim says, "is that instead of washing cloth diapers after each use, you usually only have to wash the insert, so your laundry loads are lighter. That means using less water, detergent, and energy."

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