[btn]By Patty Talahongva[/btn]
People around the Valley and globe will celebrate Earth Day this month. And while the most common way to celebrate Earth Day is to plant trees to help improve the environment, some local residents and business entrepreneurs have several ways you can incorporate green living in your daily life—and not just one day of the year.

More than 30 years ago Gerard Windstein emigrated from France to Arizona. He started a carpet cleaning business but through the years he became sick from the chemicals used in his work. “So he started looking for alternatives,” recalls his daughter, Nathalie. That led to him using EcoClean products and starting his own company, Organic Living.

Today he and his daughter own and operate the business. A few months ago they opened their store at 8342 N. 7th St. after relocating from 36th Street and Thomas Road.

They have gone from being just biologically green—that’s when you recycle items like plastic, aluminum or tires—to being ecologically green, when you also use products that don’t harm the environment or humans.

The store offers many cleaning products as well as eco-friendly products for household and even personal needs. Organic Living carries a line of bedding including mattresses that use wool, instead of harsh chemicals, to make them flame retardant. If you want a memory bed, you don’t have to get one with chemicals in the foam; Organic Living beds use 100-percent natural latex. And all of the mattresses are made in the United States and come with a 20-year warranty. Another added benefit is that dust mites can‘t live in natural latex, so they are dust-mite resistant.

“It’s the cleanest mattress you can find on the market,” says Nathalie.

One of the most popular products is the air purification system that filters out fine particles. Also a good seller are the paints that have zero V.O.C.—volatile organic compounds, which are released from some solids or liquids such as paint or paint cleaners. V.O.C.s have a variety of chemicals that may have short or long-term adverse health effects, according to the EPA. Many expecting parents are diligent about using non-V.O.C. paints for their nurseries. Organic Living also has a nice selection of infant and toddler clothing, toys and other items that are organic or eco-friendly.

And if you’re looking for personal care items the store has a variety of essential oils, facial washes, hair styling products and even natural dyes for your hair.

The products not only are perfect for people who have a chemical sensitivity; everyone can use them before they develop a reaction, like Gerard did. He is now a certified indoor air quality specialist.

For more information about the store and its products and services, call 602-224-5313 or visit www.organiclivingaz.com.

Friendly clean
North Central resident Glenn Gormley is founder of Infinite Green. “I had been in the trash removal business for 30 years and I sold my company in 2005 and really took some time off.”

[pullquote_right]When it comes to employee safety, food safety, and safety of the kids, it’s about limiting our chemical exposure and putting better products around the food we use to feed our kids. – Glenn Gormley[/pullquote_right]Gormley wanted to do something a little different and a conversation with a friend led him to environmentally friendly cleaning products. “I was fascinated at how simple they were,” he remembers. “They weren’t loaded with chemicals.”

He understands that making any change takes time and commitment. “You don’t flick a switch and say one day, ‘Oh I don’t use chemicals anymore.’ It’s almost impossible,” he says. “You can’t do it all at once. You’ve got take baby steps.”

Gormley went from using cleaning chemicals to cleaning “products.” So unlike cleaning chemicals, his products don’t have strong odors. “They work but they don’t have that harsh chemical smell behind them,” he explains. “They’re very neutral; the oven cleaner is one of the first on the market that doesn’t knock you over or take your breath away.”

His products have even earned a special commendation from the EPA for products that are safe for the environment and families. The Design for the Environment label shows that the product has been reviewed by the EPA and each ingredient used poses the least concern among chemicals in their class.

Today his products are used by the cities of Tempe, Mesa and Avondale as well as some churches, casinos and power washing companies. In addition the Washington Elementary School District is using his cleaning products for school kitchens.

“When it comes to employee safety, food safety, and safety of the kids, it’s about limiting our chemical exposure and putting better products around the food we use to feed our kids,” Gormley points out. He says if people reduce their risk or exposure to chemicals, they can lessen the impact on their bodies and the environment.

“It’s really about becoming a better environmental steward,” he says. His product line is only sold online at this time. You can learn more at: www.cleangreenworld.com.

Reuse, recycle
Even playtime can be green. One day in 2011, North Central resident Janette Harwell watched in amusement as her 2-year-old daughter, Chloe, played with empty boxes. It got her thinking. “I reached into the recycle bin and used what was there—egg cartons, milk cartons, mac and cheese boxes, paper towel and toilet paper rolls,” she recalls. Harwell’s background is in design and advertising.

After raiding her recycle bin she started drawing and when the weekend was over she had come up with three designs and the start of her company, Box Play For Kids. “They’re eco-friendly stickers printed on 100-percent recycled paper and uncoated,” she explains. “Kids can customize them and you’re getting a second use out of boxes you already have in your homes.”

[pullquote_left]I like to say we stimulate creative play and that stimulates curiosity, enthusiasm and learning in kids. – Janette Harwell[/pullquote_left]So, milk or juice cartons become pigs or fire trucks. An egg carton becomes a piano keyboard. Toilet rolls turn into a rocket ships or an octopus.

“It’s an inexpensive way to create play with your kids. It also helps with their motor skill development,” she adds. “A lot of our stickers have a learning component to them. The rocket ship has a number countdown and the paint pallet has the names of the colors.”

Each number and color are printed in English, French and Spanish.

The first full year of business in 2012 was busy as the new company won several awards from magazines for “best find for kids” and “best of the web for kids,” as well as garnering praise for its uniqueness.

The stickers are made in Phoenix, which was important to Harwell, having a product made in America. The stickers are in 100 stores across the country, including locally at Frances Vintage, 10 W. Camelback Road, and La Grande Orange, 4410 N. 40th St.

“I like to say we stimulate creative play and that stimulates curiosity, enthusiasm and learning in kids,” she says. There’s also a cost-savings factor that shouldn’t be overlooked. The last toys she purchased for her daughter were washable markers and crayons, things her daughter loves and can use to customize her stickers.

You can learn more about her products at www.boxplayforkids.com.


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