Friday, March 27, 2009

Meet Madison's Eco-tailers


Our Going Green EXPO is fast approaching—on May 2-3. According to event materials, the "Going Green Wisconsin EXPO is the premier green lifestyle show in the state. The event showcases diverse local and national green businesses..." For more information visit goinggreenwisconsin.com/expo

I wrote an article for the EXPO's program on Eco-tailers. Read on!

(Photos: left: Fair Indigo. Right: Kristin Wild, owner of Atticus)
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Eco-tailers


Want to know where to shop in the city that’s got green goods in the bag? Interested in introducing baby to organic? Maybe you want to clothe yourself in sustainability. Read on for where you can find eco-friendly, organic, sustainable and more in the city.

Atticus
18 N. Carroll St. 204-9001. atticusshop.com

Background:
Although the main focus of the business isn’t “green” per se, owner Kristin Wild weaves in green items in her store’s repertoire. Opened in 2008, Wild has sought out lines that are primarily exclusive at her shop—some of which are designer diffusion lines, like Kerrigan and Loomstate.

Green practices:
Using reclaimed items as dĂ©cor for the shop adds a homey, lived-in feel to the place. Wild’s next-door neighbor, John Taylor, lends Wild items from his expansive antique/resale shop. Shopping bags are reusable and made out of non-woven polypropylene.

Product picks:
Handbags include Seabags, totes made out of recycled sails, and Ashley Watson’s recycled-leather handbags: “Ashley Watson is great, she goes to vintage stores and finds old leather coats and makes them into handbags; it makes each one special,” says Wild. Clothing includes Trove organic cotton basics with fun details and Loomstate’s graphic T-shirts and organic cotton denim for men and women. “A lot of times eco-friendly lines are made in the U.S., which is important to me,” notes Wild.

Hip to Bamboo
hiptobamboo.com

Background:
Want to feel clothed in softness? Look no further than Hip to Bamboo’s comfy knits, designed by a yoga instructor.

Green practices:
Bamboo is sustainable and able to grow three to five feet in a day. This tropical grass also grows pesticide and fertilizer free, saving tons of pollutants from entering the earth.

Product picks:
In addition to being soft, bamboo is perfect to wear for working out since it has antimicrobial properties and lets skin breathe. The array of tanks, lounge pants, leggings, T-shirts and even a bubble tunic top allow wearers to sport the looks for breaking a sweat, running errands or even going to dinner.

Satara
5621 Odana Rd. Ste A. 251-4905. satara-inc.com

Background:
Green living might be hot right now, but Satara, Madison’s natural and organic home and baby bedding store, has long been ahead of the curve. Open since 1995, Satara’s previous incarnation, Home Environment on Henry Street downtown, peddled products like recycled glass tiles, organic clothing and even paint.

Green practices:
The entire store has been outfitted with eco-friendly materials: paint, recycled carpeting and high efficiency lighting. Fixtures are made of eco-friendly materials, like Dakota Burl and wood from sustainably-managed forests.

Product picks:
Baby and parents can sleep easy on organic cotton/wool mattresses or natural latex mattresses, both of which are naturally flame-retardant. Super soft wood fiber, organic cotton and bamboo sheets make any bed spa-worthy. Satara’s also got organic wool and cotton baby clothing and crib bedding, too. Other picks include baby toys and bath and body products for baby and parents.

Fair Indigo
570 N. Midvale Blvd. 661-7662. fairindigo.com

Background:
Fair Indigo’s original mission was to find and use garment workers from all over the world and pay them fair wages for their work and verify they work in good conditions. The retailer has been able to expand their assortment to include more eco-friendly items like bamboo clothing, organic denim, organic baby clothing and fleeces made out of recycled plastic.

Green practices:
Their headquarters in Madison is pretty bare-bones aesthetically and is furnished with used office furnishings (“We call our dry-erase boards ‘gray boards’ because they’re used,” jokes president Rob Behnke). Shipping cartons are given to Just Coffee, a fair-trade coffee roaster in town, which they use to ship their coffee. “We don’t even have a Dumpster for our cardboard since we reuse all of the cartons,” notes Behnke.

Product picks:
Check out soft bamboo polos and scoop-neck sweaters for women or their brand-new reusable bamboo shopping bags. Organic items for women include knit dresses and even a trendy skinny-fit jean. For men look for organic denim and tees. Baby gets the cutest items of all: hand-knit, colorful sweaters and bibs with animals on them; “Joobles,” soft, fair-trade, organic toys made with eco-friendly dyes, and organic cotton crib sheets.

SERRV
2701 Monroe St. 233-4438. serrv.org

Background:
SERRV’s goals include “alleviating poverty and empowering low-income people through trade, training and other forms of capacity building as they work to improve their lives.” The Monroe Street storefront (the other location is in New Windsor, Md.) gives Madisonians the opportunity to purchase handmade gifts, specialty foods and accessories from far-flung reaches like Bangladesh, Madagascar and Chile.

Green practices:
“One of the seven principles of fair trade is you want to engage in environmentally sustainable practices, which is why, for example, you won’t see ebony or mahogany used in fair trade products because they’re very slow growing woods—you’ll see bamboo,” says Susan Sheldon, manager at SERRV. “Or items [will be made] so that the artisans don’t have to strip the whole tree to make it.” She points out a fair amount of items are made with recycled materials and the fair trade coffee they sell is shade-grown, which means land is not cleared to grow the crop. That prevents deforestation and protects birds’ habitats.

Product picks:
Sample the shop’s Divine Chocolate bars, dark chocolate made in Africa that is, well, divine; eye up the dazzling bowls made out of rolled magazines, or try on the cuff bracelets made out of safety pins and beads. Sheldon says their selection of recycled products has tripled in the last year: things like wallets made out of rice bags, handbags made out of used saris and art made out of old oil drums showcase the artisans’ talent and their painstaking work.

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