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In Kids & Family

Cloth diapers have regained popularity in the past five years.

Milwaukee Diaper soaks up untapped market


Marlise Kuehn admits that laundering cloth diapers is not her dream job, but she recognizes a need for this type of service in Milwaukee. Consequently, Kuehn and business partner Lori Pitts launch Milwaukee Diaper on April 1.

Milwaukee Diaper offers cloth diaper services that include the delivery of fresh diapers and the pick-up of soiled ones. They will also sell cloth diapers, inserts and related items to families, day care centers and hospitals.

"About 12,000 babies are born each year in Milwaukee, and we all need to pitch in together to help save our planet," says Kuehn. "Each disposable diaper takes 500 years to decompose, takes 2/3 cup of petroleum to make, and to diaper one child for 2 ½ years you need to kill 20 full size trees."

Milwaukee Diaper uses biodegradable detergent and quickly renewable fiber cotton that takes three or four weeks to grow, unlike trees, which take up to 20-30 years.

"Imagine each of those babies going through about 20 diapers each atthe hospital during their three day stay. That's 240,000 diapers goingto the landfill," says Kuehn.

Currently, there are no other cloth diaper services in Milwaukee. The closest service is in Waukegan, Ill. Milwaukee Diaper service costs between $10 and $15 per week.

Milwaukee Diaper plans to buy its products from a diaper manufacturer in Baraboo.

"This helps reduce the carbon imprint we place on our planet by reducing shipping distances," says Kuehn. "We are here not only to help you help our planet, but to help our local economy by buying as much as we can locally or at least nationally."

For now, Milwaukee Diaper operates from Kuehn's East Side home, but she and Pitts are shopping the East Side and Riverwest for possible locations.

Kuehn says she was inspired to start the business after visiting her brother in California who used cloth diapers on his new baby.

"I was amazed by the ease of use, lack of smell and cuteness of the different types of diaper covers," she says. "When I came home it hit me that we don't have a service here."

Kuehn, a high-tech product manager who has been unemployed for a year, says a very disappointing job search made her think outside the box. With two children to support and unemployment benefits about to end, she decided to take the last of her savings and start Milwaukee Diaper.

"I believe we are ready to change the world one diaper at a time," she says. "My mother and father raised me with an entrepreneurial spirit, and now I'm putting that to use to better myself and to better the planet."

Kuehn says Milwaukee Diaper is a modern diaper service, not one to compare with cloth diaper services from the '70s and '80s.

"This isn't your mother's diaper service; no wet pails with poo and pee stinking up the house with your dog chomping at the bit to get a lick. There are no pins, only Velcro here. This is a service for the new millennium," says Kuehn.


Talkbacks

hkatharinehunter | April 3, 2009 at 4:32 p.m. (report)

this is VERY exciting... and i am very proud of Marlise for thinking outside of the box, caring about the environment, and setting up a business that benefits families, and the economy! congratulations, Marlise!

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rsdimsey | March 29, 2009 at 2:52 p.m. (report)

I'm only 20 and kids arn't in the near future for me but ever since I can remember I've always said that when I do have kids I would use cloth diapers. It's important that as a mother you not only take care of your family in the present but take care of the environment so your family will continue to have good life in the future.I hope your buisness does well and I look forward to being a customer!

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MilwaukeeDiaper | March 28, 2009 at 11:23 a.m. (report)

Yes, we deliver to Bay View. We actually deliver up to Mequon, and down to Oak Creek and West to Brookfield.

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smashalinajolie | March 27, 2009 at 8:12 a.m. (report)

Our family is currently a customer of the diaper service in Waukegan. I've been telling people that it would be a great business opportunity for someone to open up a service in Milwaukee! Will you deliver to Bay View? And to the commenter who mentioned the stinky diapers in a stinky room or something, we use a diaper genie. No stink at all!

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smom | March 26, 2009 at 5:03 p.m. (report)

So awesome! Too bad I already own way more cloth diapers than we need here, or we'd be signing up today! I have to say, more and more moms I know are switching to cloth diapers. Good for you for recognizing the need for this kind of service. Best of luck on your new business venture!

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