At The Green Mamas we are always on the lookout for new, environmentally beneficial products that people can use in their everyday lives that could take the place of a similar product that harm the environment. We had a chance to chat with Michelle Schnoor, Marketing Director at gDiapers, about thier innovative, flushable diaper. Stats like 50 Million Diapers A Day and 500 Years peaked my attention.
The Green Mamas: Tell me about gDiapers
Michelle Schnoor: The product was originally invented in Australia by a mom who had two kids and thought of a solution to the drought problem in Australia, so cloth diapers weren't necessarily the best solution due to water usage. She created the flushable diaper and the name of that company is the Eenie Weenies. Kim and Jason, the co-founders of gDiapers, lived in Australia and came across the Eenie Weenies for their Children. They used them, loved them, and thought 'why don't other people have this?', because it's such an easy solution to our landfill problem.
They bought global rights and thought Portland, Oregon would be the best location to launch the company due to how aware we are up here, we're a very green metropolitan area. They moved here three years ago and we launched almost two years ago. We now have national distribution through natural retailers like Wild Oats and Whole Foods as well as in co-ops and boutiques, and our online business is very strong.
The Green Mamas: I've done a little research about your company, but it's nice to hear a more personal story.
MS: Yes. One thing that isn't on our website is that our children are on site. Kim and Jason believe a balance between work and family is very important. We have daycare on site and our first title around the office is Mom, Daddy, Momma...whatever our children call us, and our second is our work. It's nice to know that your children are with you all day...not necessarily at the desk side, but just down stairs. It's a huge thing, not only for our company, but in trend setting for other companies. We're a start-up and we can do this, but there is hope that other larger companies will follow suit. There's nothing worse than having to drop your kids off with someone while you're at work...having our kids here helps ease the stress of trying to be a full-time mom and a full-time employee. That's what gDiapers is all about...we're a cool company and a cool product.
The Green Mamas: That's really nice...I think I actually heard your baby in the background.
MS: Yea, he's actually right here...we were actually in the middle of nursing.
The Green Mamas: How long have you worked there?
MS: I've been here for almost a year and a half...I came from Wild Oats. I met Jason at a green exhibit and fell in love with the company. I had a two year old at the time and knew that I wanted to use gDiapers. I started out in customer service, because that was the only opportunity at the time and now I'm doing marketing. I feel very blessed to be here. It's always great when you work for a company that you truly believe in and not very many people have that opportunity.
The Green Mamas: Can you tell me a little about the product?
MS: We have a very innovative product. Not only is gDiapers good for the environment, it's also good for babies. The reason we have a positive impact on the environment is that people can dispose of their diapers in the toilet rather than the landfill. 50 Million diapers go into the landfill every day and they will sit there for 500 years. Presently, diapers are the third largest contributor to landfills and the average child uses 5000 diapers before being toilet trained.
Even if you chose to throw away the disposable and not flush it, we don't use any oil based materials in our diapers, so it will degrade in the landfill. A positive impact for our babies is that they are not sitting in plastic all day...all disposable diapers are made out of plastic, even the leading chlorine free diapers are made of plastic. By being in gDiapers, your babies are in a breathable pant which eliminates the chance of having diaper rash and the heat that's involved in sitting in plastic.
We are also working on an adult line. I believe it is 2015 that there will be more adults in diapers than babies. So there will be a substantial market then. I don't know if you've ever had the chance to put a plastic bag over your pants and hold it really close for about three minutes. It gets really hot and gross in there...so that's kind of what our babies are sitting in when they are sitting in a disposable diaper.
Basically, gDiapers are a great option for consumers and parents who want to make a difference for their babies and the planet. We like to call ourselves the Toyota Prius of cloth disposable diapers. We're truly a hybrid system. We really hope that parents give us a try...even if they can't use gDiapers full-time, every flushable they use is one less diaper going into the landfill. We encourage parents to do what they can...if the system is too much work or whatnot, even if they can use us on a part time it's one easy way they can have a positive impact on the environment and their babies!
The system itself consists of colorful, washable gPants, there's a nylon snap in liner and the flushable. I forgot to mention that you can also compost the flushable as long as they are only urine based. We don't recommend that you compost feces.
The Green Mamas: I actually watched the videos you have on your site and thought they were really helpful. I was chatting with a woman on the TreeHugger forum who said she clogged her toilet. I think she might not have read the directions that you have to take the flushable out.
MS: Right, that's been a little tricky for us. There are directions, but we live in a very fast paced society. I honestly didn't read the directions the first time as I was a busy working mom. Then I thought, 'Oh my gosh, I have to do all this work...flush it and rinse it', but now we just do it and it's easy.
The composting component is great. It's not as much impact on your toilet, your garden greatly benefits, the nitrogen in urine is awesome for your soil, and that's what we do here at The Village. We flush the poopie ones and try and compost as many of the urine ones as we can and it's been a great system here for us. We want the flushing and the composting to be the first choice of disposal, but if you chose to throw them away it is still better for the environment.
The Green Mamas: This is really a cool product. I probably already know the best thing about working at gDiapers, but is there anything else you really like about the environment there at gDiapers?