When Chattanooga residents Lee Gates and Jason Mitchell casually discussed the possibility of starting a cloth diaper service during a bike ride a year ago, they didn’t know what they were getting into. With registration now open online and a cloth diaper service scheduled to go live Aug.4, Mr. Gates, Mr. Mitchell, and their third Chattanooga business partner, Will Joseph, have a much better idea what they are knee deep in: cotton.
When Mr. Joseph and his wife, Kayb, found out they were expecting their first baby, Mr. Joseph started doing research about cloth diapers. He was shocked to discover there was no cloth diaper service in the green city of Chattanooga. “I can change that,” Mr. Joseph said. He found out from his pastor that two others in his church, Mr. Gates and Mr. Mitchell, had been exploring the same idea.
“Chattanooga has Greenlife, Volkswagen, electric shuttles, and green movie theaters, but no cloth diaper service,” Mr. Mitchell says. “When we discovered were all thinking the same thing, we decided to join forces and make it happen. It’s time, Chattanooga.”
What is a cloth diaper service? “Ask your Mom first,” Mr. Mitchell says. “She’ll give you the basics about cotton. But then check out what’s changed. No more pins. No more ‘plastic pants’. No dunking in the toilet. Wee Care makes it simple for families to use cloth.” First, a parent visits Wee Care’s website or calls Wee Care and selects the cloth diaper solution that best fits his or her family. Then, whenever the baby’s cloth diaper needs a change, the parent just tosses it in their diaper pail or tote bag and bundles the baby with fresh cloth. For the final step -- exchanging their baby’s dirty cloth diapers for a new bundle of cloth diapers -- parents have two options.
Option one: SwaddleSwap Service. “While you’re out running your errands on Saturday, just swing by Wee Care’s first SwaddleSwap Site (118 Woodland Ave, less than half a mile from Greenlife Grocery and Coolidge Park) and swap out your baby’s dirty cloth for a new clean bundle,” Mr. Joseph explains. SwaddleSwap Service starts at $16.99 a week.
Option two: Special Delivery Service. “If the SwaddleSwap Service doesn’t fit your family’s weekly routine,” Mr. Gates says, “Wee Care can deliver cloth diapers to your doorstep. For this special delivery service, parents simply put out their baby’s dirty diapers (in the bags provided) the night before their scheduled pick up day when Wee Care comes by and swaps out the dirty diapers for a new clean bundle.” Special Delivery Service starts at $26.99 a week.
Wee Care believes both options make for a greener Chattanooga. Every baby who wears disposables uses more than 5,000 diapers during their diapering days, Mr. Gates explains. “With approximately 10,000 Chattanooga babies currently in disposable diapers, that’s 50 million disposable diapers in the Chattanooga landfill before your baby can say: ‘cotton bottoms!’” In stark contrast, cloth diapers can be cleaned and reused more than 50 times before they are “retired” and turned into super great rags.
Wee Care would love to see 1 out of 5 babies in Chattanooga wearing cloth within five years. “It’s a big goal,” Mr. Mitchell says. “But we’ve seen Chattanoogans do big things before. Just 40 years ago, we were known for being one of the most polluted cities in the U.S. Now we are the gem of the south. As more and more Chattanoogans choose cloth, I think we’ll find our city leading the way in sustainable living, too.”