Eco-Friendly Simple Shoes Available at Roots Stores

This evening I stepped into the Roots store in the Rideau Centre and confirmed that it does indeed sell environmentally-friendly shoes made by Simple Shoes.  I posted a few days ago about my saga of buying Simple Shoes from an on-line U.S. store.  Well, now I know I can buy them right here in Ottawa.  However, they do not carry the particular style that I bought on-line (and which is shown in the photograph for that blog post).  Instead they carry the ecoSNEAKS for men and for women.

I assume that other Roots stores across Canada also carry Simple Shoes, but if you’re making a special trip I suggest you call ahead, just in case.

Roots, Rideau Centre, 50 Rideau Street, Suite 247, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 9J7, (613) 236-7760

The Temptation to Eco-Shop Virtually Across the Border

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With the Canadian dollar stronger than the American at the moment, the temptation to shop on-line for environmentally-friendly products from companies south of the border has never been harder to resist. I succumbed to temptation the other week and ordered myself the pair of Simple Shoes in the photo above. The experience of ordering from the U.S. was not entirely a happy one.

Simple Shoes recently got a massive eco-makeover. Their product-line now features pedbeds made from recycle popbottles, 100% post-consumer recycled paper footforms, organic cotton and organic linen uppers, natural rubber or recycled tire soles, and water-based cements. Moreover, Simple shoes are minimally packaged in shoeboxes made from 100% post-consumer recycled cardboard and/or in biodegradeable bags. I needed office-type shoes for my new desk-job, so how could I resist buying such a stylish pair with such an environmental pedigree?

My first choice would have been to buy Simple Shoes locally. Glebe Trotters used to sell the brand. However, they don’t anymore. I’m not sure why. I emailed the Simple Shoes distribution person to find out if there were any Ottawa retailers I didn’t know about, but she replied in the negative. The closest place I could go to buy Simple Shoes in person would be Ciara’s Casual Chic in Toronto. They also offer shopping on-line. It can be a little chancy buying something like shoes from a catalogue, but I’d had a pair of Simple Shoes before, so I knew what size was likely to fit. Unfortunately Ciara’s online store didn’t have the shoes I wanted in my size.

By this time irrational impulses took over. I simply was not going to be denied Simple Shoes. The dollar was doing well, so I thought why not order them from the U.S. Bad decision.

Ordering went smoothly. Despite being so eco-conscious, the shoes were only $85 USD. Not bad for shoes. Shipping was $18 to Canada, again a cost I could swallow. Unfortunately, when UPS showed up at my door they threatened to hold my lovely environmentally-friendly shoes for ransom unless I shelled out another $42.44 to them for brokerage and duty.

I don’t mind paying the government the taxes they would be getting if I had bought the shoes from a Canadian retailer. I do mind paying UPS $30.00 on top of the $18 they were already paid for shipping, for the supposed effort it takes to take a pair of shoes across the border. I had no choice, however. If I wanted those shoes I had to hand over another $42.44. So I did. And the shoes fit. And I love them even if they cost $145.44 instead of $85. But there is no way I would purchase another pair from across the border. So if anyone knows of anywhere in Canada that sells Simple Shoes and would be willing to ship to Ottawa, please comment!

Local Flavours: A Rainbow of Heritage Carrots from Bryson Farms

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They’re organic, they’re heritage, they’re grown within 100-miles of Ottawa, but most importantly they come in white, yellow, orange, red and purple.  Fun food that’s good for you and tasty too from Bryson Farms.
Once upon a time a great many varieties of each vegetable were grown, with distinctive flavours, looks, textures and cooking qualities.  Now most of the commercially grown vegetables come from the same genetic stock and have been bred more for ease of chemically-enhanced growing and for transporting long distances than for culinary pleasure.  Growing heritage vegetables keeps the gene-pool and our kitchens diverse and vibrant.

Bryson Farms is a family-run organic operation in Shawville Quebec that specializes in heirloom/heritage varieties of vegetables.  They grow over 2000 varieties of vegetables, which they sell directly to customers through their weekly home delivery service and at the Parkdale Market in the West End on Saturdays and Sundays.

For more information on the heritage seeds movement in Canada see the Seeds of Diversity website: http://www.seeds.ca/

Local Flavours: The Hungry Planet Restaurant, Perth

We borrowed a friend’s biodiesel-powered car and headed out of Ottawa for the weekend. On the way to Jones Falls (where we stayed at the historic Hotel Kenney), we stopped at our favourite Perth restaurant, The Hungry Planet, for lunch.

Judy Dempsey, the owner of The Hungry Planet, sources as much of its ingredients as possible from surrounding Lanark County and participates in ecoPerth’s Local Flavour Businesses campaign. (For a list of all the participants, click on the Local Flavour Campaign icon in the right-hand column on ecoPerth’s home-page, then click on the Local Flavour Businesses link.)

Although they specialize in take-out there are a dozen tables for sit-down meals as well. There are many vegetarian options on the menu, including a few vegan ones, as well as locally-raised meat items for the more omniverously-inclined.

Hours: Tues. to Thurs., 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Fri. 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m; Sun. and Mon. Closed.

The Hungry Planet, 2 Wilson St. W., Perth, Ontario, (613) 264-9234

100-mile Toothbrushing: The Green Beaver Company

If you’ve switched or considered switching to “natural toothpaste” you’ve probably come across Tom’s of Maine, that powerhouse of healthfood store toiletries from the U.S. There is a more local alternative, however, and that is The Green Beaver Company, a small relatively young company in Hawkesbury, ON. Okay, so the ingredients for this toothpaste probably come from far and wide, but it is manufactured within 100-miles of Ottawa.

Green Beaver toothpaste comes in 5 different flavours including star anise, which is homeopathic friendly (it doesn’t contain mint). All  Green Beaver products are free of fluoride, aluminum, artificial fragrances, artificial flavours, dyes, mineral oil, parabens, petrolatum, phtalates, artificial preservatives, and triclosan. None of their products are tested on animals and the toothpaste is free of animal products. It is vegan. Green Beaver toothpaste is also free of the controversial substance sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a substance which is in Tom’s of Maine toothpaste.

To find a retailer that stocks Green Beaver products near you, consult their on-line list of stores, which includes 27 in Ottawa.

The Green Beaver Company, 535 Front Road, Hawkesbury ON K6A 2R2, 1-888-666-1206

P.S. If you’re counting, this brings the total to three cool eco-companies in the Hawkesbury area: The Green Beaver Company, Pinehedge Farms, and Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company.