New cloth-diaper service eyes an eco-aware niche

Sun Sprout Delivery also hopes to offer array of parent services, info, products
2013-03-09T00:00:00Z New cloth-diaper service eyes an eco-aware nicheAngela Pittenger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 09, 2013 12:00 am  • 

New parents have many decisions to make before their bundle of joy enters the world. One is whether to use cloth or disposable diapers.

For parents on the fence, the deciding factor may be convenience. Toss it in the trash? Or rinse, wash, repeat?

Enter Sun Sprout Cloth Diaper Delivery Service, a new Tucson business that delivers clean cloth diapers and takes the dirty ones away for laundering every week. The service includes a diaper pail and liner and a new deodorizing disc each month.

Tucson had been without such a service for at least two years. With cloth diapers regaining popularity, husband and wife team Charles and Ileana Swanson - who are expecting their first child themselves - decided it was time to fill that void.

They say they priced their diapers slightly below popular disposable brands such as Pampers and Huggies.

According to their research, it costs approximately $231 for a 12-week supply of name-brand disposable diapers. They've priced their service at $228 for 12 weeks.

Sarah Cotten, mother of two children, was a customer of Next Generation Diaper Service here before it closed a couple of years ago.

She said having the service was easy and convenient.

"It was really nice to just be able to use cloth diapers and have them picked up and get a fresh clean batch every week without having to wash them."

She said her friends that use cloth diapers without having a service "have been doing a lot of laundry."

Charles Swanson, who is working on a master's degree in ecological studies, has researched the impact that disposable diapers have on the environment.

"This isn't just to make money," he said. "A big statistic that hit home for us was that each baby using disposable diapers creates one ton of waste in the landfills."

The couple also wants to "promote healthy and natural living" to other parents. Sun Sprout plans to hold workshops for parents on diapering, breastfeeding and making baby food.

Another aspect of the business will be a small retail space and Web store that offers diaper bags, wipes and training pants.

Parents can also rent diaper covers, which are worn over the diaper to keep moisture away from the baby's clothing.

For a one-time cost of $50, customers get seven diaper covers. When the child is ready for the next size up, customers return the first set and get the next. Diaper covers cost an average of $13 per pair when buying them.

As of right now, the business does not have any employees. But when they do hire, the Swansons' goal is to hire people who are having trouble finding work.

Charles Swanson teaches English to adults part time, and sees the struggles immigrants and refugees have finding work.

"They are super-motivated, thankful and hardworking," he said.

The Swansons want to help them learn basic language and computer skills that they can use to find future employment.

"Washing dirty diapers is just a small aspect of our business," Charles Swanson said.

"It's really exciting that Sun Sprout opened," Cotten said. "I think a cloth diaper service is a mark of a progressive town. It shows people care about the environment and what's best for their babies."

TO Start Service

Service is started with a phone call. The Swansons have done their research as to how many diapers one might need according to the age of the baby. The phone number is 351-2370. Sun Sprout's website is sunsprout.us

Contact reporter Angela Pittenger at apitteng@azstarnet.com or 573-4137.

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