Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut January 06, 2014 - 3:48 pm

Will cloth diapers make a comeback? This Iqaluit business says yes

“Most people are going to save two, three, four thousand dollars”

DAVID MURPHY
Brad Chambers of the new Apex business Arctic Cotton holds up a cloth bib and diaper. Their new business started up in late 2013, and in years to come they hope to replace disposable diapers with their reusable cloth and cotton diapers. (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY)
Brad Chambers of the new Apex business Arctic Cotton holds up a cloth bib and diaper. Their new business started up in late 2013, and in years to come they hope to replace disposable diapers with their reusable cloth and cotton diapers. (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY)

Does your baby poop?

A new Iqaluit business says they’ve found a better way of dealing with it.

The solution: a reusable cloth and cotton diaper.

Brad Chambers, the founder of new reusable diaper business called Arctic Cotton, got the idea at a food security coalition meeting a year ago.

“Feeding My Family was there. And when they were talking about the financial constraints on many families in Nunavut, one of the things that came up in passing was that cloth diapers aren’t really an option here,” Chambers said.

That’s when Chambers’ entrepreneurial light bulb went off, and months later, he and his wife Angela opened Arctic Cotton — the only reusable diaper store in Nunavut.

“I remember thinking that’s something that someone should do, and supposed it could be us,” Chambers said.

There’s a bit of an orientation that takes place at Chamber’s Apex house, which doubles as their store.

When future or current parents come in, they can feel the materials in a pantry room the size of an elevator shaft that’s filled with stacks of colourful diapers on shelves over six feet tall.

Babies are also sized up — their own miniature tailoring session. There are sizes for slimmer and bigger babies, as well as different colours for them too.

Some diapers snap on with buttons, others tear off with Velcro. Many have colourful designs on them that feature octopuses, ladybugs and smiling cows.

In the room, Chambers shows off his collection of all natural fragrance-free laundry detergents, which he’s selling as well, that remove the poop in washing machine.

Chambers lists off the several different benefits that cotton diapers bring — such as fewer rashes on babies and fewer plastic disposable diapers ending up in landfills.

About four million diapers are thrown away in Canada each day according to Environment Canada, and a disposable diaper can take up to 500 years to decompose.

“If you’re [using reusable diapers] down south for environmental reasons, well people care about their environment here, I think more,” Chambers said, adding that people want to avoid “diapers blowing around in the tundra.”

The biggest change parents might see is in their wallets.

“Even if you only have one child and you used the most expensive cloth diaper option, you’re still going to save at least $1,000. Most people are going to save two, three, four thousand dollars over the course of the time the kids are in diapers,” Chambers said.

And Chambers says up to 3,000 diapers are needed for one child that uses disposable diapers from the time they’re born.

“Instead of every time you take off a dirty diaper and put a new one on, thinking there goes 50 cents — you’re not thinking that,” he said.

Getting reusable diapers up north has been a struggle for people in the past, Chambers said.

“One of our other considerations is to serve people who just can’t access things from the South either because they don’t go South or they perhaps don’t have credit cards,” Chambers said.

“It’s not easy to get a credit card if you’re living in a community that doesn’t have a bank. And that’s a problem we can work around, with cash on delivery,” Chambers said.

There has even been interest from the Northwest Territories, he said.

And using the boarding home in Iqaluit is something the company is looking to do.

“If people are in town that are about to have babies, they can buy them from us that maybe they couldn’t from an operation in the South, at least in the Baffin region,” Chambers said.

Chambers admits, however, that reusable diapers require more water than disposable diapers — but not by much, about two half-loads of laundry each week.

“We’re on trucked water here and it certainly hasn’t been an issue for us, but other people certainly may have other water usage patterns than we do,” Chambers said.

Chambers said people in the South are turning a new leaf when it comes to reusable diapers and he hopes the same will happen in the North.

“Cloth diapering is coming back. And I hope that [if] the trend continues, it would be great if that trend was given the opportunity here, and that’s what we’re trying to do — to give people that choice.”

For prices and more, check out Arctic Cotton’s Facebook page.

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