Keep your con­science clean when dec­o­rat­ing

NOW Magazine - Toronto Living - - Front Page - By Meaghan Clark

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.ur­bantreesal­

Tansu table from Ur­ban Tree Sal­vage

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