Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mothers can save the environment by using cloth diapers

THE two things that usually deter people from “going green” are that it’s expensive and having to compromise on looks.

For instance, the demand for organic vegetables is low because they are expensive. And business people do not like to use recycle paper because the economical ones are brownish and rough while the ones that look good are expensive.

Better choice: Loh (left) with Danzell and Phillipa with Tara sharing their diaper experiences.

One organic food shop owner said it was inevitable for organic food now to be deemed elite products because it’s costly. So, unless the demand goes up to bring down the prices, the vicious cycle will not be broken.

Two women, who have started their own business selling environmentally friendly goods, are determined to do just that.

“I keep my profit margin low so that others will be able to afford them and this will help to encourage mothers to try the products I have on my website,” said Grace Loh who sells cloth diapers and other “green” products for babies.

Pretty: Colourful cloth diapers for babies that are environmentally friendly.

Loh, 35, is a mother of a seven-year-old daughter and two sons aged six and one year. She works from home managing online sales on her website www.lildansell.com.

“Environmentally friendly cloth diapers are different from the white ones you buy off the shelf,” she said as she unfolded the colourful cloth diapers that are embroidered with pretty motifs.

The inside flaps, that have high absorbency, are made of micro fleece and cotton. She claimed that it could keep the baby’s bottom dry for three to four hours. “The diapers come in different sizes or you can buy the adjustable one size.

“Depending on the material used and the design, each diaper can cost between RM50 and RM100 but it can last up to 10 years,” she said as she displays them on the table together with minky feeling colourful cloth bags for storing soiled diapers for wash.

Loh said a baby would require a set of eight to 10 diapers a day if they are being washed every day.

Dry bottoms: Microfleece padding inside the cloth diapers.

Her friend, Li Chan, 29, who is also in the part-time business of selling environmentally friendly goods online has started www.diapersasia.com as a forum for mothers to sell second-hand diapers.

“The price and demand for second-hand diapers are very good. Mothers can usually fetch 70 per cent of the price she paid for the diapers that are still of good condition and they get snapped up quickly,” said Li, owner of www.femchoices.com.

Li who gets her supplies from the UK and US offers for sale green soap, shampoo, cloth bags, cloth diapers and reusable sanitary napkins on her site.

“The baby cloth diapers may be expensive for a mother to buy all at once but mothers can start by putting aside some money each month as soon as they find out that they are pregnant,” Li advised.

She started this business four years ago when she returned from working in Hong Kong. “I was searching the internet for an alternative to normal sanitary napkins that usually give me rashes. When I found the alternative I thought every woman should know about it.”

She also found cloth diapers for babies and started promoting them among her friends.

Then she found and converted a new mother Phillipa Clare Yoong Li-Foong who has been using cloth diapers for her 16-month-old daughter Tara Joy Bayly for six months now.

“I plan to have more children and these cloth diapers are a long term investment,” she added.

Li said there are sample packages for mothers to try on their babies to see which one fits.

“You can also end up a diaper addict,” she warned, “because the diapers are so pretty and they sometimes come with matching tee shirts.”

Loh has close to 200 diapers in her collection and is still collecting.

Li has another long term plan to import the materials for making diapers from the US and to get women from the community to form sewing circles to make them.

This way, it would give work to poor women and to reduce the cost of cloth diapers so that more mothers could afford them.

“These products and a host of other green products should not be only for the rich,” Li said.

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