This past fall, Canada’s largest eco store opened in Ottawa. This past holiday season, I spent a couple of afternoons at Terra20 - browsed its shelves and picked the brains of some of its staff members. Here’s what I found (for more information on Terra20 see my previous article linked here):
Terra20 has a focus on making the shopping experience for environmentalists straightforward, efficient and enjoyable. After having been to Terra20, I would say that they have accomplished just that! It is incredibly easy to find green products and green advice at this store. One of the most helpful features of Terra20 is the creation and use of their ethics logos which tell you about the environmental features of any product on their shelves. These logos are on every pricing label in the store and depending on which ones appear, you know what you are getting from an item. There are nine logos in total representing: high efficiency (energy / water saving), contains no bunnies (no animal suffering or byproducts), organic, made in Canada, waste reducing (recyclable or biodegradable), free of harmful chemicals, sustainable (products that impact the planet in a positive way), fair trade and green certification (given to products that are certified by verifiable environmental organizations). A massive legend of these labels is displayed on the walls at the front of Terra20 (which you can see from anywhere in the store), making the system simple for all shoppers.
Another feature of the store that makes it easy to shop for green products is the helpful staff. With multiple, friendly staff members dedicated to each section of the store (ex: clothing, cleaning supplies, cosmetics etc), there is always an expert on hand to educate you on which green product is best for you. In my time at the store, the staff I interacted with were very well researched on the products within their section and were able to answer higher order questions about the eco-conscious features on any items that I asked about. Example complex questions that I asked and received answers to were: “What is the most eco-friendly unscented hand lotion that I can buy in this store?” and “Is there any way I can further reduce my impact on the environment while doing laundry than just using eco-friendly detergents?”
A final way in which Terra20 makes it enjoyable to shop for green options is by the number of options they have. With over 12,000 products in the store, Terra20 seems like an environmentalist’s playground the first few times you go. Rather than the usual experience of settling for the one eco-alternative that a traditional department store has, Terra20 usually has a multitude of options available and interesting ones too. For instance, the paraphrased answer to my last question in the paragraph above, “you can elect to use one of our eco-friendly laundry detergents from our ecobar which comes with a refillable bottle that you can refill here and receive an in store discount for doing so. This way you will reduce the number of plastic bottles used each time you finish your detergent. You could also choose a product called Eco Nuts® (see http://econutssoap.com/) which are a berry that naturally produce soap and can be used as a biodegradable alternative to laundry detergents.” If those aren’t cool substitutes for the usual eco-laundry detergent than I don’t know what is!
All in all, I think that Terra20 is worth stopping by if you are in the Ottawa area. It provides a pleasant, well researched and environmentally friendly shopping experience that is bound to engage you in ways that you never have before in traditional eco-stores. Check out their website at http://www.terra20.com/.