ECO FRIENDLY DECORS
Keep your conscience clean when decorating
do you believe in reincarnation? Have you ever stopped to wonder about the life a piece of furniture may have had before it landed in your home? When buying eco-friendly furnishings, you can be sure your coffee table has a history and is worth honouring for its past service as well as its present form and function. Some retailers sell only sustainable, eco-friendly products, and this phenomenon is steadily growing as conscientious consumers demand them. One of the added bonuses, besides knowing a bit of their history, is your contribution to the environment and some-times to underdeveloped communities. You certainly don’t get all that with mass-produced particleboard furnishings! One shop that’s been offering ecofriendly products since its beginning is Grassroots Environmental (372 Danforth, 416-466-2841, and 408 Bloor W., 416-944-1993, which sells organic bedding, bed frames, mattresses and accessories. To buy a bed set from Grass-roots is like taking a tour of the world with stops in Quebec, the Netherlands, the Peruvian Andes and Malaysia. The frames are individually crafted, joined without synthetic glues and finished with natural oil or wax. The wools used in Grassroots products are certified 100 per cent organic, and the staff will even tell you how the sheep are cared for, with clean floors in climate-controlled barns, fresh, dry bedding and a non-rationed food supply. Almost sounds like a vacation getaway…. Also on the Danforth (at 362, 416462-9779, and 2599 Yonge, 416-9321673) is Ten Thousand Villages, whose policy is to buy only eco-friendly, sustainable products. “We provide vital fair income to Third World people by marketing their handicrafts and telling their stories in North America,” says store manager Petrea McConvey. Many of the pro-ducts sold at Ten Thousand Villages are made from “good woods” such as bamboo, which quickly regenerates, shesham, another fast-growing shade tree, and entombed wood, which comes from trees long buried by volcanoes or under water. “Our furnishings from Indonesia, for instance, are products with a difference, providing employment oppor-tu-ni-ties in areas of economic hardship,” adds McConvey. A new addition to the Toronto market is T.H.E. Store, or Total Home Environment (87 Avenue Rd, 416-9217317). Located above the Whole Foods market in Hazelton Lanes, this health-oriented home emporium sells only organic, eco-friendly products that include stunningly beautiful hand-carved beds, mirrors, cabinets and shelving units. The handmade, antiqued-wood furnishings are put together using good ol’ tongue-andgroove, mortise and dovetail joints. Remember those? Your grandparents would. “It’s all about making informed choices,” says manager Christina Tudor. “Buying these goods means you get better-quality products but you don’t have to pay more for our guarantee of organic purity, fair labour practices and environmental protection” she adds. Surprisingly, you don’t have to travel around the world to find sustainable materials to use in eco-friendly furnishings. In fact, there are plenty right here in our own backyard, and one local company is making use of what was destined to be rubbish. “Urban Tree Salvage was created to help preserve our natural forests through salvaging urban logs and processing them into value-added products” says marketing director Melissa Neist. Working with the city of Toronto forestry department and reputable local arborists, this company will remove trees from dump sites and private land. That’s right, they’re making use of the approximate 9,000 trees the city takes down each year in the GTA alone. “We take the removed logs and process them into lumber with a sawmill, then kiln dry them so they can be used for furniture, flooring and artisan products,” says Neist. Coffee and end tables made of maple and elm are already on its roster and this company is presently expanding into the flooring business in a huge way. It hopes to open a retail store later in the year. Check out Urban Tree stuff at www.urbantreesalvage.com.
Tansu table from Urban Tree Salvage