Welcome to BioBag’s Community Heroes series! Each month, we will highlight community heroes that are making a difference in their communities and working to make their local environments cleaner and healthier.
This month, we are taking a look at Earth Diaper!
Earth Diaper’s mission is to create a cleaner, greener world for all by composting diapers that would otherwise overcrowd landfills. Based in Santa Cruz, California, they also support parents who struggle to afford diapers by partnering with agencies that work directly with the families to provide free or subsidized diapers and composting services. Earth Diaper also serves group homes, such as homeless shelters and safe homes for victims of domestic violence.
Co-Founder Lily Broberg Strong, RN, has worked as a public health home visiting nurse in the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Cruz, serving vulnerable populations for the last decade. She has seen first-hand the need for diapers and the stress families experience as a result of this unmet need. We spoke to Lily to learn a little more about her organization.
What led you to start your composting operation?
Strong: Diapers are 3% of our landfill waste and growing. They take 500 years to break down and are filled with chemicals. Mothers tell me that it hurts their hearts to create so much garbage (about 7,000 diapers per child, on average). I got started working with low-income mothers & babies as a public health nurse home visitor and noticed how hard it was for these families to afford diapers. Often these moms have to make choices between essentials like food & rent or diapers. This creates both stress for parents and sometimes skin breakdown for babies (if they are not changed enough). My love of the earth and babies combined gave birth to the idea to bring free compostable diapers to shelter families. We piloted the program in 2018 and just kept going because we got so much good feedback and the families love it.
Who do you serve, and how can people get in touch with you if they want to start composting?
Strong: We serve a homeless shelter for women with young children in Santa Cruz, California. We hope to grow to other shelters where composting is available. We use donations to fund compostable diapers and wipes purchases for the shelter. We contract with another company (EarthBaby) to drop off and pick up diapers and then diapers are composted at Z-best in Gilroy, which is a huge composting operation with a permit for human waste.
If anyone is interested in donating to purchase diapers for a low income family (and divert them from a landfill!) visit our website at earthdiaper.org and click on the donate button. All donations are tax deductible. If you are interested in buying compostable diapers for your own use, please also visit our website and check out our affiliate partner organizations.
How much organic material do you typically take in on a weekly basis?
Strong: We compost about 150 diapers a week currently. Our diaper use depends on how many babies are at the shelter and how old they are.
Please give us one fun fact about you or your business.
Strong: We love poop jokes! Also, we had a great article in the Santa Cruz Goodtimes. To read it, click here.
If you would like to be featured in a future edition of Community Heroes, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.