Last Alaska diaper service folds

Posted: Thursday, June 10, 2004

JUNEAU When Britt Constantine gave birth to her son, Canyon, five months ago, she liked the thought of soft cotton diapers on his bottom.

But Constantine and her husband, Garri, are buying disposables for the first time because Juneau's only cloth diaper service has gone out of business. It may have been the last cotton diaper service in the state, according to business sources in Anchorage and Fairbanks.

''That diaper service I thought was a really great resource in this community,'' Constantine said. ''They gave something that was soft on their (babies') bottoms.''

The Bottom Line Diaper Service closed at the end of May, owner Sharon Jones said. Jones had to shut down the business because of health problems and could not find someone else to run it, she said. She sold the equipment used to clean the diapers.

''Basically we're sorry that it didn't work, and that someone else wasn't interested in continuing the service,'' she said.

Constantine also is sorry because cloth diapers offered softness, were environmentally friendly and encouraged parents to become more responsible diaper changers because cloth does not absorb as well as disposables, she said. Babies also tended to toilet train more quickly because cloth diapers felt wetter, she said.

''I'm really going to miss it. I'm really sad,'' Constantine said.

Earlier in the day, the couple bought their first package of 144 disposable diapers at Costco for $32. The diaper service cost $13 a week for about 100 diapers.

Bonny Rivera, a distributor for cotton diapers in Anchorage, said that city's last cotton diaper service folded nine years ago.

''I think that's amazing for this size city,'' said Rivera, who gets an average of four diaper service inquiries a week.

The Chamber of Commerce in Fairbanks also does not know of any cotton diaper service there.

Richard Lyon, the original owner of Bottom Line, remembers when the diaper service in Fairbanks folded because he bought some of its stock.

Lyon and his wife, Joy, started the Juneau business in 1989 and owned it for seven years before selling it to Jones. They had 160 customers at the time.

The Lyons started the business because they had a baby and another on the way. Plus, there was lots of focus at the time on recycling and environmental consciousness, Joy Lyon said.

For parents reluctant to switch to disposables, Rivera said washing cotton diapers isn't as bad as some would think. That is the cheapest alternative before using a diaper service or buying disposables, the most costly choice, she said.

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