I love shopping locally and supporting small businesses. Even when it was in Toronto, I never went to Target – I didn’t go out of my way or make a conscious vow to avoid it, I just never felt the need. There are so many great people in my community doing great things, and probably in yours too. But in the age of internet shopping and trips to big box plazas in our cars, hearing about those small, often home- or small studio-based, businesses is difficult. I’m going to be exploring this concept of community more over the coming months, and how we can reconnect in a time where we’re able to do everything from our computers. I thought it would be fun to start by sharing the stories of local small businesses that are doing their part to lower their footprint, and delivering greener, healthier services and products to their communities (and beyond). So without further ado, here’s my first installment of “Green Hidden Gems: Toronto Edition” featuring a jewelry maker, baby wearing expert, and used children’s clothing store.
Kate Singer is the designer and maker behind this Toronto-based jewelry company. She makes gorgeous hand-made charm pieces, with extra attention given to reducing their impact on the environment. Kate uses citric acid in place of more common stronger acids to clean the jewelry during production. When soldering, she uses a non-toxic fluoride-free flux that is a better alternative than conventional flux. She also takes extra care during product design to avoid glues. While this takes extra effort up front, her pieces benefit from being free of toxic chemicals often used by jewelers. She also recycles all her scrap silver and silver filings through a refinery in Scarborough, which turns them back into raw silver to be used again. I love that she takes steps to run her business as responsibly as possible, even when it’s not necessarily the easiest route. You can check out her story at www.marmaladedesigns.ca.
Little Zen One
Allie Dennis is passionate about babywearing – firsthand as a mom and also through educating other moms on its benefits. She started Little Zen One to help parents through the intimidating world of baby carriers. She sells only organic, fair trade, or handmade products, including stretchy wraps, woven wraps, buckle carriers, mei tais, ring slings, coats, covers and capes, accessories and more. I love this focus on providing ethically made products in a world where fast fashion and cheap and cheerful products abound. And the products she carries go to show that green can also be beautiful – take a look at www.littlezenone.com.
Any consignment and used clothing store could be on this list (buying used is better than buying new!), but iSpy Clothing offers a little something extra. While some of the actions they take make good business sense as well as being eco-friendly (such as reusing boxes for shipping and hangers from retailers who would otherwise toss them), they also go the extra mile by recycling clothing that cannot be sold or donated. Co-owner Rebecca Saha is also a savvy green mom, sharing her laundry and clothing tips on Green Moms Collective. iSpy Clothing offer a showroom in west Toronto to save the shipping too. www.ispyclothing.com.
Do you have a favourite, local, green hidden gem? Tell me about it!