Then her youngest got diaper rash, and the doctor told Hoops it was actually a chemical burn from disposable diapers. “She’s the one who got me started on it all,” Hoops says. “Her skin was so sensitive, she couldn’t wear disposable diapers. I knew as soon as I put a diaper on her she would cry.”
That is when Hoops made the decision to start West Side Green Baby in May 2012.
West Side Green Baby is a cloth diaper service Hoops and her husband started with four industrial washers and dryers in their converted LaGrange garage. The business provides weekly door-to-door drop off and pick up of 80 pocket diapers — cloth diapers that look just like disposables with a pocket in the back for included absorbent inserts — diaper pail liners and travel bags. Customers simply put the dirty diapers in the bag; WSGB hauls them away for cleaning and drops off clean diapers. Customers can also choose an unlimited diaper package, which Hoops says works well for families with multiple kids in diapers.
Within six months business was booming and the garage setup wasn’t enough. So Hoops began outsourcing to an eco-friendly laundry service. She estimates after just one year in business, WSGB has kept 20,000 disposable diapers out of landfills.
WSGB diapers are not the cloth diapers of the 1970s. They are highly absorbent, do not require rubber over-pants to prevent leakages and use snaps instead of pins. “I constantly have to explain to potential customers they are no harder than using disposable diapers,” says Hoops. “They are really hung up on the idea, and then they are pleasantly surprised.”
The environmental and health advantages to using cloth diapers further support Hoops’ argument. Disposable diapers are the third-largest contributor to landfills, according to smallfootprintfamily.com, and the chemicals can cause skin irritations.
“Incidents of doctors’ visits for diaper rash were only 7 percent before the widespread use of disposables in 1991,” explains Hoops. “After that, the number rose to 78 percent and has stayed there.” Hoops claims a 98 percent cure rate of skin issues when people switch to cloth diapers.
While the investment in cloth diapers can be expensive in the beginning, WSGB keeps the service affordable — about $25 a week — and doesn’t require long-term contracts. “Week to week, the cost is about the same,” she says. “The big savings comes in kids potty training a lot sooner.”
Babies in cloth diapers typically potty train a year earlier than kids in disposables, says Hoops, mostly because they can feel the moisture in cloth, which prompts them to learn bladder and bowel control much earlier than in disposables, where the moisture is wicked away. “I have customers who seek out the diaper service just for potty training,” says Hoops.
West Side Green Baby serves western Cuyahoga, Lorain, Erie and Huron counties. Next year Hoops plans to franchise the business in Toledo and Cleveland’s East Side. She continues to work as a labor and delivery nurse one or two days a week.