The Green Giant of Eco-Shopping.

Photo by Dan4th | fickr.com
Photo by Dan4th | fickr.com

Back in 2006, Steve Kaminski was building his family’s home when he thought about a common frustration that many eco-enthusiasts have: it is hard to find environmentally friendly products. Really hard. Thus, wouldn’t it be great if there was a single store where you could buy all the products you needed? Taking this thought, Kaminski set out to start a retail store that would change the way Canadians bought their green options and this past fall he founded Canada’s largest eco store, Terra20 in Ottawa.

With his friend Bill Stewart, Kaminski created a vision for Terra20. Stewart and Kaminski wanted to make a store where any level of environmentalist could purchase green products and engage in a sustainable lifestyle. The flagship store in Ottawa opened on September 15th, 2012 with over 20,000 square feet and 12,000 products. Sections of the store include baby, books, home, health, office, pets, sports & toys. The major benefit of this impressive size and selection is enabling eco-friendly consumers to finally have the options and choice that they do not normally get from smaller retail and online vendors.

Now, I know what you may be thinking. 20,000 square feet, 12,000 products and targeting any level of environmentalist ... this idea sounds too profit driven to be truly green! Well, allow the features of the building itself to show you how committed to sustainability Terra20 is. Here are just a few examples: In the architecture of the building, the process of daylighting (using natural light as opposed to electrical) was taken into account in order to reduce the number of light fixtures required inside the store. In many of its interior design and display components, the store features sustainably produced bamboo. In the building’s flooring, Terra20 elected to use a bio-based limestone and recycled material tile in place of the usual non-biodegradable and hard to recycle PVC tiles. Lastly, in its paint choices, the store opted for predominately volatile organic compound free paints which reduce the amount of chemicals emitted into the air and environment.

But, what about the actual products you say? Are they all eco-friendly? Terra20 chooses its products based on a guiding set of ethical principles. They look for items which reduce energy waste in production, minimize harm on the environment, promote sustainable living, abide by fair trade and are appropriately green certified. Additionally, they thoroughly research all companies whose products they put on their shelves and they reach out to their consumers for input as to what should be sold and what shouldn’t. The epitome of all this effort is the store’s ecobar – a set of dispensers where consumers can refill eco-friendly household cleaning product bottles in order to save the creation and disposal of plastic containers. The largest of its kind in North America, the ecobar truly shows how Terra20 is looking to provide its customers with some of the greenest options available.

All in all, Terra20 is a leader in its field and is off to big things in the world of environmentally conscious retail. If you are in the Ottawa area, I recommend that you swing by. If not, check out the website and online store here!

Graydon Simmons