Guide connects caring consumers with caring businesses

Thursday, battalions of students will be collecting trash off the streets for Earth Day. Recycling depots will be clanging with the sound of glass bottles and crushed cans. And people will be jawing about how to stop an ever-warming Earth.

Thursday, battalions of students will be collecting trash off the streets for Earth Day.

Recycling depots will be clanging with the sound of glass bottles and crushed cans. And people will be jawing about how to stop an ever-warming Earth.

But there will be others quietly trolling the internet looking for different ways to put their money where their mouth is.

At the beginning of April, Yukon College launched its online Green Guide. It lists Whitehorse stores that offer environmentally friendly products.

The website spotlights more than 100 retailers.

“We wanted to be able to help visitors and residents find green products and services,” said the College’s Northern Climate Exchange co-ordinator, Lacia Kinnear.

A store is listed if it carries products that either increase energy efficiency or reduce greenhouse gases, toxins or waste, she said.

The guide doesn’t just cover the usual suspects, like energy saving appliances and organic food products.

It also features items people wouldn’t necessarily equate with being green.

That includes toys and clothing.

Angellina’s Toy Boutique, for instance, sells toys free of BPA and solvents and a line of wooden toys made from a sustainably harvested forest.

And Due North Maternity offers organic cotton clothing for babies and pregnant mothers along with some locally made items.

“As a business we wanted to provide good choices for people,” said Due North Maternity co-owner Shannon L’Heureux, who started the venture two years ago out of her home.

One of her biggest sellers so far has been her cloth diapers, she said.

Many people use disposable diapers, but those often have dioxin in them, a toxic chemical that has been linked to cancers and toxic-shock syndrome, said L’Heureux.

Cloth diapers mean less waste in the landfill. They’re are also healthier for babies, she added.

Any Avenue Design, an alternative building company in Whitehorse, is also doing its part to redirect waste away from landfills.

The company, co-owned by Mark Smith and Erin Benoit, offers unconventional building materials, like recycled paper countertops and cork and bamboo flooring.

“I hate the word ‘green,’ it’s overused” said Smith. “I prefer ecologically sensitive.”

The company

has been around since 1997 and demand for their products, some of which can cost 25 to 30 per cent more, is growing.

“There’s people out there more than willing to pay more,” said Smith.

They’re interested in building with a conscience and they want something a bit different, he said.

The Green Guide tries to link consumers with niche retailers like Any Avenue Design.

In addition to listing retailers, the website also gives information on how to understand environmental certifications and standards, ways to reduce consumption and how to contact environmental groups in the city.

“We wanted to encourage principles and practices that extend outside of consumerism,” said Kinnear.

Rather than getting people to buy a new ‘Energy Star’ certified washing machine, it’s much more sustainable to get people buying used, energy efficient washing machines, she said.

The website has already gotten more than 500 hits since it went online two weeks, including hits from five different countries.

The Green Guide was done in partnership with the Energy Solutions Centre, Whitehorse and the Yukon Federal Council.

The group hopes to update the website quarterly with new businesses and products, said Kinnear.

Next year, they’re hoping to take the project one step further by slapping window stickers on the outside of stores carrying green products.

Check out their website at www.taiga.net/whitehorsegreenguide

Contact Vivian Belik at vivianb@yukon-news.com