Collecting single-use, compostable dirty diapers and transforming them into commercial compost has its laughs according to Mountain View dads Mark Siminoff and Tony Patron, co-founders of EarthBaby.
“As you can imagine, there are a lot of funny stories when you operate a diaper delivery service, and we’ve heard more poop jokes than you would ever imagine existed,” said Siminoff.
“Believe it or not,” he continued, “unsuspecting thieves often steal used diapers—once. Sometimes right from our customers’ doorsteps.”
A few months ago, the diaper delivery and pickup company accidentally left a few large boxes of dirty diapers outside overnight by the back door of its Santa Clara warehouse.
“Our security cameras captured a person driving up in their SUV, grabbing a box of diapers, tossing it in the back of the car, and then driving off,” said Siminoff. “We can only imagine the look on their face when they opened up that box of stinky diapers.”
Far more than a diaper service, EarthBaby’s mission is to divert compostable dirty diapers from landfills and transform them into a usable product. Really.
EarthBaby was launched with 25 families in Mountain View in 2007. Today it serves more than 3,000 Bay Area families, collecting nearly 15 tons of diapers weekly.
Founders Siminoff, a graduate of Los Gatos High School and UC Santa Barbara, and Patron, a graduate of Santa Clara University, met as coworkers at IDEO—a global design consultancy based in Palo Alto.
“The idea was born after we had children—each of us had sons in 2005 and daughters in 2007—and were shocked by the volume of waste that our households generated,” said Siminoff. “Single-use diapers contributed to the lion’s share of our curbside trash collection.”
“We knew that if we could solve this problem for ourselves, other families in the Bay Area would be interested in joining our cause—diverting diapers from landfill,” said the dads.
After extensive searching, they eventually found a single-use diaper made of bamboo viscose. Compostable diapers are not allowed in city compost bins, so EarthBaby partnered with an industrial composting facility in Santa Clara County.
It takes 14 weeks to compost dirty diapers. The composting facility then sells the resulting blended topsoil for landscaping projects.
Siminoff and Patron based their business in Santa Clara because it’s a geographically-centralized location for operating their fleet of vans. Also, Santa Clara offers a favorable business environment with reasonable utility costs and industrial complexes with offices with attached warehousing and order fulfillment space.
In 2014, EarthBaby received the Acterra Business Environmental Award. In 2020, EarthBaby merged with its diaper supplier, DYPER, changing its name from EarthBaby to REDYPER and expanding services nationwide to 14 cities, with 20 more targeted by the end of 2022.
“What I love about EarthBaby is that their service takes minimal thought and time for the parent while still engaging in environmentally conscientious diapering,” said San Jose working mom Jocelyn Weart. “They have the heart of a small business that puts family first, with a huge impact in helping to preserve our environment.”
“We measure success one pound of dirty diapers at a time…and as of today, we are proud to have collected about 10.5 million pounds of diapers that were otherwise headed to Bay Area landfills,” brag the proud fathers.