The idea of “environmentally friendly” didn’t come front and center for us until a little less than a decade ago. But I was somewhat passively aware of it long before that. My household is proof that you don’t need to live off-grid to embrace this idea. Small, every day habits by regular people add up!
My own story actually began when I was about 9 years old. My family had relocated to a new school district, and I made a group of new 4th grade friends that liked to create “clubs” for ourselves to belong to. We were quite an enterprising bunch! I remember a club we created called the “A’s Club” since our names — Amanda, Ashley, and Angie — all began with the same letter. Then, Jenny joined our group, so we couldn’t be the “A’s” anymore.
A kid’s book came into my possession at some point thereafter about ways to “Save the Earth”. It intrigued me because I couldn’t fathom why the Earth needed saving. And how could one kid save the entire planet? I read the book from cover to cover in less than a day. Hence, I suggested we create the “Earth Club.” The club was short-lived, however. It began and ended with me adopting an endangered manatee on behalf of my fellow club members. 😊
Fast forward to the Great Recession. My husband and I welcomed our first baby in 2008, which for many of us, was the toughest year of the Recession. Thankfully, we both remained employed during that time, but our wages were frozen at a time when the value of our home plummeted and our expenses were increasing very quickly. In some ways, we felt trapped. No way to move without a huge loss on our home, and no pay increases to count on to help plan for our expanding family. For about 2 1/2 years, it was an enormously stressful time for us.
So, we started looking for ways to save money. Over the next few years, we got serious about growing as much food for ourselves as we could. We started making enough apple sauce to last us all winter from a single apple tree in our back yard. I taught myself how to pickle cucumbers and do basic water bath canning. I started making anything I could — baby food, cleaning products, soap — for our family myself instead of buying them at the store.
For me, gardening rekindled a relationship with this glorious planet on which we live. The more I read about gardening, I found that more questions arose. My instincts drew me to organic gardening specifically because it just made sense to me that the less “messed with” our food is, the better it is for us. It just tastes better too!
< i>Above: This is the garden where we planted sweet peppers, hot peppers, tomatoes, cukes, and smaller squash (like zucchini). We use natural pest deterrents like flour and African marigolds.< a href=”https://greenhaveneco.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/img_8849-1.jpg”>Above: We use this longer bed for larger plants like pumpkin, winter squash, and watermelon.< a href=”https://greenhaveneco.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/img_8804-1.jpg”>Above: This planter contains 15 strawberry plants.<
ver time, we started honing our footprint in other ways. Energy Star appliances…eco-friendly insulation for our 100+ year old home…low e glass replacement windows…a programmable thermostat to better control our energy bills. We generally have only 1 or 2 small bags of trash per week due to our weekly visits to the recycling bins in our township. This list is not exhaustive, but we do have plenty of other large and small scale projects on deck.
The current phase of goals pertains to the inside of our home. We are in the process of getting rid of possessions we no longer use. We are trying to teach our 2 children to value experiences more than physical belongings (that one remains a bit of a struggle!). As we replace items and simplify the inside of our home, much consideration and preference is given to solid quality, renewable materials, non-toxic finishes (impact to the air quality inside our home), and how it will eventually be disposed of (cradle-to-cradle). We will share progress updates in future posts.
We are striving to continuously learn how to do better, and it’s exciting to see the array of smart, innovative new eco-friendly products introduced to the market in the past several years. It seems the best is yet to come!
We want to hear from you. Please share your favorite eco-friendly ideas and products in the comments section! Are you actively working to live in a more sustainable way? Please tell us how!< a href=”https://greenhaveneco.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/img_9055.jpg”><<<<<<<
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.
April came and went, and as of yet, I’ve not been successful in finding a home for Green Haven Living. I’ve managed to come very close, but disappointingly, our prospects have fallen through.
In the meantime, there are numerous family members, suppliers/partners, friends, former colleagues of mine, and many excited future customers cheering us on. I am truly not one to easily give up on this dream. GHL will offer new options for furnishings, decor, and gifts in Westerville and the rest of Central Ohio. And, by extension, we will be supporting organizations that are environmentally and socially aware. There is a lot of goodness in that!
So, I continue to find strength in those of you who offer words of support and encouragement. I never imagined there would be as many of you as there are, and I am humbled by that. I sincerely thank each one of you.
Stay tuned for more updates!
Originally, our target to open the boutique was in April 2017. This was dependent upon our ability to secure the right lease for commercial retail space.
So far, we’ve expressed interest in several Uptown Westerville locations, but none have yet come to fruition. I, as well as several others, are scouting for the right space, and I still feel optimistic that the right location will reveal itself. It’ll just take a bit longer than we’d hoped!
Historic Uptown Westerville is hopping! We have had several new restaurants (8 State Bistro, Asterisk, etc.) and shops added to the mix the last couple of years — and we are looking forward to the opening of Northstar Cafe in a few weeks!
Once we have our location, it’ll be a matter of weeks until we open. Thanks for your support. I will certainly post any updates as things change!
This past week, I had the pleasure of meeting Robin Wilson. Robin is a New York-based interior designer, entrepreneur, and author. Robin also serves on the board of the Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC).
She authored Clean Design: Wellness for Your Lifestyle, which focuses on the elimination of toxins and allergens from your home and embracing more eco-friendly design principles. Many of the concepts in the book will be translated via our collections at Green Haven Living.
I finished the book prior to meeting Robin. It was such an easy read — only 3 afternoons to finish it! Instead of writing a book review, I decided to highlight a few of my favorite passages from the book. I’ll let the passages speak for themselves! 😉<
. “…you can create a healthier home environment that manages the indoor air quality and protects your family from the dust, mold, pollen, fumes, odors, airborne toxins, chemicals, and other substances…”<
. “According to the American Lung Association, “poor indoor air quality can cause or contribute to the development of infections, lung cancer…headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea, and fatigue…”<
. “Entryways…think of it as a place where family members and guests can get rid of the dirt they bring in from the outdoors. The best strategy with mudrooms is to make them as cleanable as possible by covering floors and walls with washable materials that can be easily scrubbed.”<
. “…choose kitchen cabinetry…made with low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, stains, and adhesives and that there is no formaldehyde in the adhesives.”<
. “Changes in temperature cause off-gassing of toxins, and no other room (other than the bathroom) has as many temperature variations as the kitchen.”<
. “The least toxic mattresses are made with sustainable, natural materials such as cotton and natural latex.”<
. “Consider taking old (> 3 years) pillows to an animal shelter where they can be used to cushion wire cage floors.”<
. “Bathrooms … have the potential to be the biggest trouble spot – from the humidity that can lead to mold growth, to the spray from a toilet flush that can expose family members to bacteria, and to the off-gassing from toxic cleansers or vinyl shower curtains- creating a brewing chemical stew to cause an unfriendly environment for the health of a home’s inhabitants.”<
. “The Clean Design goal for walls is…to eliminate oil- and petroleum-based paints, stains, varnishes, and adhesives… and to choose water-, milk-, or latex-based products instead.”<
0. “Dust mites can be limited by washing your child’s toys. If they cannot be washed, freeze them for 24 hours in a Ziplock bag at least once per month; shake the toy before opening the bag so dead mites fall to the bottom of the bag.”
As 2016 draws to a close, we are ever closer to making Green Haven Living’s brick-and-mortar location a reality! The search is on for a location in Uptown Westerville. We hope to join the ranks of the gorgeous boutique shops and restaurants that make Uptown so unique and popular!
In the meantime, an impressive group of supplier partners stands ready to provide our customers with an inspiring selection of merchandise. The majority of our partners are local. Those that are based further away are specially selected for their innovative take on building a sustainably-made product, running their businesses responsibly, and taking a role in bettering their communities. All of our suppliers are right here in the United States.
Our 2017 art and decor collections include new products made of recycled, repurposed, and reclaimed materials by HomArt, Recherche, Green Market Purveying, and plenty of others!
We feature accent furnishings with specific finishes, unique shelving, and cabinets by such local makers as ReWork Furnishings and The Reclaimed Barnwood Company.
We offer all natural pampering lotions, body butters, soaps, balms and other personal care items by Honey House Naturals, Beekman 1802, and The Naked Bee. These products are specially selected for their purity and lack of harmful ingredients.
Our jewelry lines and accessories include the talents of Michael Michaud, Claire Allman, and Chico Bag!
This is just a small sample of what we have to offer!
We are constantly looking for eco- friendly home products and suppliers on a wholesale basis. Are you an artist or “maker” easily accessible to the Central Ohio area? Do you know about a company we should consider doing business with? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section or send me a private message via the contact form.
8 ways in which living green can improve our psyches
I wanted to let you know that I just completed an intensive course in sustainability and received my certification as an Accredited Professional.
I’m excited about this, because it’s a unique program. The course was developed in conjunction with the Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC) and approved by ranking staff of Rainforest Alliance, World Wildlife Fund and one of the co-founders of USGBC/LEED. The program was written by a LEED Accredited Professional and is designed to pick up where LEED leaves off, focusing specifically on furnishings themselves.
It included detailed information on the environmental issues affecting furnishing, finish, and upholstery choices and the increasing number of solutions available, most of which don’t cost any more than ordinary ones. It’s truly a matter of knowing the right places to look and the right questions to ask.
Had you asked me 2 years ago, I would have had no idea how important all of this is. I am amazed and humbled at the innovation that has taken place and that continues with respect to environmentally safe product choices. The choices we make for our homes will impact those we cherish the most …possibly for generations. I look forward to being able to bring what I’ve learned to you at Green Haven Living LLC!
Check out this Bloomberg article. Fortunately, there are some things families can do to start minimizing toxins in their homes.
Click the link below to read further:
Your Favorite Housewares Are Spewing Poison Dust Inside Your Home – Bloomberg
A month ago, I made my first trade show trip to Las Vegas. Why would I fly 1700 miles to attend a trade show if I’m an ECO-boutique? Well, there are several reasons. There were 3 separate shows running concurrently. I wanted to speak face-to-face and create new supplier relationships with people that have the same values I do. And lastly, the Las Vegas shows attract eco-friendly companies from all over the United States. Naturally, I thought 3 separate shows running at the same time in Vegas would make an efficient one-stop shop and produce lots of supplier possibilities in a very short time. I was right. 😉
I went into this thinking I was headed for the “snake pit”. I’d expected pushy, aggressive people that were trying to meet their sales quotas, but that couldn’t have been further from my experience. Almost every single person I met there was friendly and just wanted to explain what their products had to offer in hopes that it would meet my needs. They were happy to answer my 20 (million) questions and seemed interested in what I am creating. Between the 3 separate shows, every type of supplier imaginable had to be there. Luckily, I had an idea of which suppliers were attending beforehand and narrowed down my list. And, I’m really glad I did.
I was lucky that Mom and I got to go on this trip together. It’s been 13 years since I was in Vegas, and I couldn’t help but marvel at the gorgeous desert landscape. I had forgotten how beautiful it is in person. We ate dinner the first night at Benihana, which was a gorgeous restaurant. I’d bet the Vegas Benihana is 3-4 times the size of the one near where I live.
2 of those 4 days were spent walking at the shows and speaking to suppliers until our feet hurt. At one of the shows, we were served 4 mimosas before noon (two each, of course)! Sorry, Mom, I’m sure that one was supposed to “stay in Vegas”.
One evening, we saw Mystere by Cirque du Soleil. It’s one of the best shows I’ve seen, hands down. Highly recommended. The last night we were there, we ventured out to Hoover Dam. The grandeur of the mountains, the bridges, and the massive dam itself is simply awesome. Pictures don’t do it justice.
Driving back from the dam, we happened upon the Hoover Dam Lodge Casino. Inside the building is a steakhouse that reigns supreme. Mom commented that her steak was “the best she’s ever had”. I had a roasted chicken dish that was heavenly.
As much as I enjoyed Vegas, I’m not a big gambler. I’m more of a tours and sightseeing kind of gal, and I like to be on the move. There are so many interesting places to see within such close proximity to one another! Admittedly though, my mother, who LOVES the Wheel of Fortune slots, forced me (okay, coaxed me) to feed a machine $40.00. Remarkably, I left Vegas $150 bucks ahead!
A well-spent (no pun intended) trip indeed.😄
Thanks again for joining me as I share this journey with you.
A lot has happened in the last year and a half. My employer was acquired in October 2015 and we were informed shortly after that our facility would be permanently closed at the end of 2016. My last day will be December 31, 2016. At first, I was devastated. But, as time went on, the amazing people I worked with began moving on with their lives. I am grateful that, in my position, I can help them all through that process in some small way, but it quickly became evident that I needed to start that process as well. Needless to say, my next professional chapter began to take shape after that point.
I’m sure you can agree that people generally don’t receive 10 months’ notice that their jobs are ending. Not to get all “woo-woo” on you, but it makes me wonder if somehow, the stars magically aligned, and I was given that time to plan for my next creative endeavor. So, I’ve been using that time to develop a RETAIL concept of my own (yeah!). I’ve been in the process of transforming myself and sponging up every last bit of knowledge I can find to become the owner and operator of an eco-boutique called Green Haven Living LLC. Sure, there is risk involved. I’m equal parts excited and terrified to embark on this journey. But, there is one thing I feel certain of. Someday, when and if I decide to retire, I will regret it if I never put myself out there and gave “My American Dream” a fair shake.
This is not a turnkey business I’ve purchased. It’s a business that I am literally building from scratch. It’s been a full year of highs and lows, stops and go’s, confidence and doubt…and about everything in between. I am completely out of my comfort zone…and somehow, I am really excited about that. I choose to view the challenges I am facing as opportunities to further build up my resiliency in a competitive business climate. What labor of love doesn’t throw you for a loop every so often?
I’m determined to create something unique and deeply personal that does a lot of good for local families like mine, as well as the community as a whole. And, I am over the moon about how this has begun to take shape.
So, please…stay tuned as plans come together. I can assure you, there is plenty more to come!
Green Haven Living LLC is an eco-boutique. We search high and low for unique, often one-of-a-kind, accent pieces for your home with an environmentally safe lens. Therefore, you’ll find our collections of furniture, home decor, art, accessories, and gifts meet our eco-friendly standards — reclaimed, recycled, upcycled, biodegradable, and naturally sourced, to name just a few.
We are targeting April 2017 for our brick-and-mortar shop’s Grand Opening. Thanks for joining me, Angie Scheu, for updates about our journey! More announcements will come as we get closer to that time.