Friday, October 7, 2011

An excellent place to shop

It's almost time to go into very rainy Banff (I may have to find an umbrella or just sit in a coffee shoppe), but first I want to tell you about Wednesday. I was fortunate enough to have it off, but as usual, many errands suddenly appeared, one of which was taking my daughter's forgotten lunch to school. That provided me with an opportunity to stop on my way home at a marvelous little store that sells a lot of excellent necessities. What's not to love about a place that helps consumers to reduce their ecological and social impact on the planet and its inhabitants? My mission, besides taking a few pictures for my moodlings, was to pick up some fair trade chocolate bars and chocolate chips.

Earth's General Store (EGS) has been in operation for twenty years, which is an excellent run for an environmental establishment in a province with a far-less-than-stellar environmental track record. The proprietor is so environmentally aware, he doesn't even spend energy to light up his signs -- they're simply painted. When I first discovered EGS several years ago, it was situated above a music store on Whyte Avenue, but it made a newsworthy, environmentally-conscious move in 2010, when many people-powered vehicles were employed to carry store merchandise 13 blocks to the new, disabled-accessible location. Some folks carried stuff via transit, too, if I recall correctly. The new location is bright, spacious and colourful.

The store's owner, Michael Kalmanovitch, has long been an advocate for sensible consumerism. He keeps a blog for EGS that provides information about the products he sells, and he's responsible for the Activist Agenda, a weekly newsletter that encourages activism for many different causes. His customers are encouraged to ride their bikes to get to the store, and to bring their own recycled bags and containers for purchasing product. Those who do are given special tokens that they can donate towards assisting charities like the Candora Society of Edmonton and others further afield. Michael's desire that we all consume less, consume wisely, consume locally, consume fairly, and love lots more is taken seriously by many of his patrons. I wonder -- does he keep a running tally of charity monies that EGS has donated through its token program? I'd bet it's a rather impressive sum already.

Just to give you an idea of some of the things you'll find in EGS:
Lovely, certified organic produce, some of it local this time of year...

(peaches from BC, not Chile).

"100 Mile" foods... (don't you love the fast food sticker?)...

an impressive bulk food section with many vegetarian and vegan options
(don't forget to bring your own recycled plastic bags)...

organic baked goods from local small business owners...

all sorts of organic personal care products
that even the David Suzuki Foundation would be proud of... 

environmentally-friendly cookware, underwear, 
diapers, menstrual products, towels...

everything you need to be a successful composter
(including red wiggler worms, if you so desire),
and plenty of knowledge -- books about
everything we can do to aid the enviroment, on loan.

If you've yet to discover Earth's General Store, I'd highly recommend a visit. To my mind, it's difficult to find businesses these days that aren't just pretending to be green. EGS is green in the truest sense! While some of its items might seem pricey, keep in mind that they cost what the larger chains would be charging if they were treating their suppliers and their employees fairly, or if they factored in the true costs associated with the production of the item (organic cotton and fair trade chocolate are not cheap if the labourers are being treated with dignity). We all need to support businesses like EGS for the sake of life on our planet. If you know of other environmentally-aware business people, I'd love to hear about them.

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