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Below is the newspaper column I wrote in July and it has a special place in my heart. Ivy goes to the same school as my son does and her Mother, while no longer with us…is an inspiration to me. I am honored to share her story. Even if you don’t have a need for diapers, you will wish you did after reading this!

Mike Madden picture

Mike Madden carries on his wife’s legacy

Tragedy, meet triumph.

I want to shout it from the mountaintops: Cloth diapers are easy to use! They are cute, simple, with modern-day “snappies” instead of diaper pins. They are much better for babies and will potty train them 6 months earlier. They save money, make life easier, and you never have to wash them!

Their evil twin, disposable diapers (which I used, so no judgment), are a good-idea-turned-environmental-disaster. They may seem easier, but the price is too hefty, both in your wallet and in our world. But it’s not the activist in me that wants to shout, it’s the mom in me. Here’s the story that has me wanting to climb Mt. Everest with a megaphone.

Three years ago, a new mother moved from Cincinnati to Charlotte and couldn’t locate a cloth diaper service. She was accustomed to using natural, unbleached cotton on her baby’s sensitive bottom and was passionate about avoiding plastic toxins. So she started a new company and named it Ivy’s Diaper Service, after her daughter.

The revival of cloth diapering helped the company prosper, and the owner found herself busy with many new customers and a lot of dirty diapers to wash. Her favorite part of the business was meeting with new moms and playing with babies, while being able to spend time with Ivy. She was living her dream, enjoying motherhood and helping babies avoid chemicals on their skin (think petroleum/crude oil).

The company expanded into a warehouse to use commercial-sized washing equipment, but Garrett Burfield, the mom with a passion for “healthy butts and a happy planet,” continued to do all of the laundering, sales and deliveries, even throughout her pregnancy with her second child. In August of last year, tragedy struck. Garrett and her unborn child were killed in a car accident in Cabarrus County while delivering diapers. The community and her family mourned.

But the story, and Ivy’s Diaper Service, didn’t end there.

It would have been easy for Garrett’s husband, Mike, to close the business in his hours of grief and sudden status as single dad. But within a few days he decided to fulfill his wife’s legacy and make sure all the baby customers got their refill orders. He knew they didn’t have options and he needed to act quickly. With the help of family and friends Mike was able to pick up the pieces. It became and still remains a labor of love for Mike as well as for Garrett’s friend, Jessika, who handles new business and meets with customers, in memory of her dear friend.

Ivy’s is now the only cloth diaper service in the Charlotte market. They have diapers made from cotton, bamboo or organic hemp and a new compostable diaper made from wood pulp and corn sugar, a great disposable option to avoid dyes, fragrances and other synthetic chemicals.

You can find more information at www.realdiaperassociation.org. Did you know the average child uses 6,000 diapers in their first two years and contributes 1.5 tons of untreated human waste each year to the landfill? The plastic will take 250-500 years to break down. More importantly, disposables contain dioxin (listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals) and TBT, a pollutant known to cause hormonal problems.

What would Garrett think of Ivy’s Diaper Service now? She would be very proud. She also might get a laugh out of the fact that it takes four or five employees to handle the workload that she single-handedly managed, at nine-months pregnant with a toddler at bay. Either way, she would know that because of her passion to protect her own children, many more babies have “healthy butts” — and the planet is a happier place because of it.

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