Since my last lease opportunity fell through, I’ve thrown myself into continuing to work through the nitty gritty details of how this shop should run. Technologies, systems, processes…it’s all gradually coming together after months of researching options and costs. Decisions are being made.

But a day came last week where I felt like I needed a break. I needed to “zoom out” so to speak (as opposed to “zoning out”). When I need to think and regroup, I take walks. When I worked at Elmer’s, I would try to walk a couple of laps around the parking area each day. My most productive thoughts and creative ideas came out of those walks over the years I worked for Elmer’s, so I paid a visit to that same parking lot that day. I certainly didn’t expect that walk to reaffirm for me every reason I chose to create this company in the first place.

It just so happened to be a beautiful, crisp, sunny morning — 70 degrees or so. Perfect. Canadian geese were traversing the parking lot with 9 goslings in tow. It was mostly quiet except for an occasional car coming or going. There are more trees than you would expect for the parking lot of a corporate building, some of which have finally grown large enough to shade various parts of the lot. You can hear the birds in them. Let’s just say it’s easy to appreciate nature in this kind of setting.

All of a sudden, a landscaping company pulls in, and I began to notice things differently. The gas-powered mowers and trimmers cutting everything to “perfection”. I tried to avoid the clouds of gasoline fumes and dust as I walked my final lap. The young man with the sprayer was applying weedkiller to the perfectly mulched beds. Another one was scooping chemical grass “pellets” — not seed — onto bare spots while wearing protective gloves.

And then, I began to notice how perfect the grass was. Too perfect. It took me back to a 4th of July celebration a few years ago, where we had traveled downtown to watch the fireworks. My daughters were rolling down a small hill in the grass over and over much like I did as a child. By the end of the evening, their backs, arms and legs were covered in itchy, red abrasions. Someone had sprayed lawn chemicals on that grass, and now my children were exposed to that. There were no signs…no cautionary measures whatsoever. I washed them off in a bath tub full of warm water and baking soda while they cried. I felt terrible, and it angered me. I don’t remember ever having to worry about chemically-treated grass when I was a child.

As I continued my walk, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “What the h… are we doing?!” as I have wondered so many times before. We are trading our health and wellbeing for a cosmetically perfect “environment”. You see, these chemicals end up in our ground water, our air, our soil. No, they don’t completely break down. It is affecting our health, that of the rest of the creatures we share this space with, and this beautiful Earth that was formed to sustain all of us.

If you look at the pictures attached to this post, you will see what I saw that day. Chemical runoff from the spraying and the discoloration over time of the sealed blacktop…perfect, weed-controlled grass, plus plenty more issues are visible that I haven’t mentioned here.

My family (including myself) has been affected by human-caused pollution too many times and in more ways than I can count. Several years ago, it got me thinking about where we spend most of our time and where we have the most control over these factors. I can’t control every decision or every impact on our environment, but I can control what comes into my home and what happens on the land I own. Our homes are and should remain our safe haven after all, shouldn’t they?

Recognizing these issues exist, there is a small, but quickly expanding market for eco-friendly home goods. And, it is quickly expanding for good reason. That’s why I want to focus my livelihood on supporting the makers, artists, and creatives who support these ideals. I have spent almost 2 years searching high and low for these people and understanding how they are upholding their values. These are people who are, like me, deeply concerned about our environmental impact. I want my shop to resonate with people in a different way and show people how to make more deliberate purchase decisions in support of these small family-owned businesses who are reversing our environmental impact in some way.

Maybe, in our lifetime, it’ll be possible to celebrate the achievements and progress we’ve made to combat pollution, waste, deforestation, and many of the other widespread, very real consequences we are already seeing. But right now, each of us can start small…in our own homes and on our own land. You can do your part to support your local environmentally-friendly landscaping companies, contractors, organic farmers, publications, and of course, eco-friendly “mom-and-pop” shops like Green Haven Living. To quote a good friend and former colleague, companies like ours are, “good people helping other good people.”



P.S. Some practical tips for your home exist in this post from January: Clean Design.

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