The Crazy Wisdom Community Journal • September - December 2012 • Page 25
Bgreen Today opened its doors on January 1, 2008, after Daniel and Delphine had spent 15 years owning Ethnic Creations and Kayu Furniture, a chain of women’s clothing and furniture stores. They closed all but one store, due to the steady decline of the Michigan economy. (They still have one Ethnic Creations store operating in Petoskey.) Daniel cut his teeth in his early twenties with companies such as Co-Op America, which was strong on socially responsible issues. He firmly believed in the ideals he’d learned and cultivated through these companies. So when he and Delphine opened Ethnic Creations and Kayu Furniture, they did so with the goal of selling the most natural products possible, made as cooperatively as possible. These same ideals resonate in Bgreen Today. “We wanted to stay in retail after closing Ethnic Creations and Kayu Furniture,” Daniel said. “We had the overhead covered and we had the storefront; all we needed was the product to fill the space.” Like the former business, Bgreen has two sides: one side is dedicated to wholesale restaurant supplies, while the other side is dedicated to retail building supplies. The two fit together nicely, because they are both focused on energy efficiency and reducing consumption. On the restaurant supply side, all of the products they sell are 100% biodegradable and compostable, which helps reduce landfill consumption. Consumer choices include bioplastic products made from corn polylactide acid and food containers that are made from sugar cane and bamboo. “We would like to see the complete elimination of polyethylene and polystyrene from the food consumption chain,” Daniel said. “Polystyrene is known to leach styrene and benzene into hot food that comes in contact with the polystyrene. Benzene and styrene are known carcinogens.” Most food containers from popular food chains are made from polystyrene, commonly referred to as Styrofoam. Bgreen Today carries products to replace all of those used in the food packaging and distribution chain.
On the building materials side, the focus is on indoor air quality, and offering materials that are as low as possible in formaldehyde and methane, which are volatile organic compounds. Commercial paints and stains are the worst offenders for emitting such gasses long after they have dried. Bgreen carries the AFM line of paints and stains, which is VOC-free or low-VOC, and has no toxins at all. Additionally, Bgreen carries a line of cleaning products that contain no harmful toxins like bleach, chlorine, or cyanide, while using as many natural ingredients as possible. This Greening the Cleaning® line consists of laundry detergents, floor cleaners, bathroom cleaners, and dishwashing detergents, and is developed and sold by the Dierdre Imus Hospital for Pediatric Oncology in Hackensack, New Jersey. “We have thousands of customers on the restaurant supply side,” Daniel said. “We provide products for two-hundred-plus weddings, graduations, and office parties per year. This is one area where people can make a positive impact on the environment quickly.” Bgreen also hosts science camps and classes, where kids can come in and be educated on “greening” the environment. Bgreen plans to work with the City of Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan, and the private sector on a new initiative called the Zero Waste program. The initiative works to eliminate the amount of trash going into landfills by making everything recyclable or compostable. This is a project that has been used in some Ohio universities, with a good deal of success. On the building materials side, the focus is on indoor air quality, and offering materials that are as low as possible in formaldehyde and methane, which are volatile organic compounds. Commercial paints and stains are the worst offenders for emitting such gasses long after they have dried. Bgreen carries the AFM line of paints and stains, which is VOC-free or low-VOC, and has no toxins at all. “The paint also creates a safe-coat that seals in the compounds to eliminate the release of toxins.” With building supplies, Daniel and Delphine take the idea of “green” much further than energy-efficient lighting. There’s flooring, cabinetry and countertops, woodburning stoves, and high efficiency toilets. “Your level of ‘green’ depends on the product,” Daniel reminded us. “A marble countertop is a marble countertop and can only be so green. It’s going to emit gasses and toxins throughout its lifetime. Flooring is only as sustainable as the wood or other product used to make it. Our wood flooring meets the Forestry Standard Council’s requirement, which is a standard for how wood products are made. And did you know that linoleum is 85 percent linseed oil and is a wonderful alternative to vinyl?” Considering that their previous business was selling two different types of merchandise, and that “green” building and renovating is still a rather new concept, it’s admirable that Daniel and Delphine chose to forge ahead on a new path in this economy. But both are extremely passionate about what they do, and that may make all the difference. With their restaurant supply business increasing, they feel they can wait for the building/home improvement side to slowly catch on. The reality is that Bgreen Today often serves to simply educate people. As discussions of greening the environment and ensuring sustainability continue, expand, and improve, more and more people will begin to green their own environments, and that will have a resounding impact on the global community. “Some customers come in to be educated and to find out what their options are,” Daniel said. “That’s okay, it’s our job to help consumers realize that they do have choices.”
The biggest factor in choosing to remain with an older, less eco-friendly way of living is economic. It’s cheaper to lay vinyl flooring or to use paints that will leak toxins over the years. “It’s really a question of cost versus health,” Daniel said. “My question to the consumer, then, is: How do you put a cost on the health and well-being of your children?” Continued on page 26