I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published June 12th 2012
What are our greenest shopping destinations?
In our increasingly chaotic and polluted world, many of us are seriously considering the ethical implications of the choices which we make in life: where we live, how we raise our families, what jobs we work at and how we spend our hard-earned cash. Unfortunately, many businesses we support financially and the products which we purchase, are harmful to ourselves, the environment and others, both human and animal. The cheap items of clothing which we blithely snap up at large chain stores are frequently created at the expense of exploited workers at sweat-shops in developing countries, while the vast majority of household cleaners and personal care products pollute both the natural environment and our own bodies. However, despite this gloomy outlook, it's comforting to know that here in Perth we have access to a few retail outlets which aim to make the world a more conscious and healthier place. The following list is a few of my favourites.
Planet Ark Store
The Planet Ark store in Fremantle
Planet Ark in Fremantle is a non-for-profit environmental organisation which was founded in 1992. Its objectives include the protection of the natural environment and the education of the public (individuals, families and businesses) to be aware of their impact on the natural world.
In addition to corporate sponsorship, Planet Ark funds its campaigns through the sale of environmentally responsible products and product endorsements at its Fremantle store. Situated minutes walk from the railway station, the store is easily accessible and boasts an amazingly diverse range of products.
For the environmentally conscious builder or renovator, Planet Ark stocks a unique range of earth friendly house paints and wood treatment oils, suitable for both internal and external areas of the home. I can strongly recommend the clay-based Volvox range as my family and I painted our home with this several years ago, and the warm, earthy ambiance which it creates never fails to attract positive attention. Other products for the householder include composting products, such as compact Bokashi buckets that can be used inside the home, juicers, water purifiers, mercury-free lights, and bathroom fittings which preserve our precious water supply.
For parents, a unique range of earth-friendly babies' nappies can be purchased here that are both flushable and compostable. Women will be pleasantly surprised by the store's wonderful range of natural cosmetics and makeup, as well as the range of biodegradable sanitary products which are stocked. For the home gardener, there is a comprehensive selection of organic seeds, and much, much more. Of course, this list is just a small selection of all the wonderful products which can be found in the store, so do yourself a favour and pop in for a visit. The friendly staff will be more than happy to show you around, and answer any queries that you may have.
For more information, go to the Planet Ark website.
Situated in an idyllic location right next to the Bayswater Riverside Gardens reserve and the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary, Perth Eco Shop at the Environment House is full of all sorts of goodies for the environmentally conscious shopper.
Although the shop is formally open only on Saturdays from 10am until 4pm (including Christmas Eve but not New Year's Eve), other times are possible by arrangement. The Eco Shop also has a weekly market stall at the popular City Farm markets (each Saturday from 8am to 12pm). Products at the Perth Eco Shop include environmentally friendly personal and home care items, gardening supplies, organic seeds, herbal cosmetics, and a wonderful assortment of books and magazines which are related to environmentally ethical farming, eco-building, renewable energy, nuclear issues, the WA environment and much more.
If you live too far away to drop in, a catalogue is available on the Environment House website,so it's possible to phone through an order and pay via credit card over the phone.
Address: 125 King William Street, Bayswater.
Ph: 08 9271 4488
Perth City Farm
Located just minutes from Claisebrook railway station, City Farm is a lush, verdant oasis amidst the chaos of down-town Perth, and the venue for a very popular growers' and artisans' market . Over recent years this urban farm has gone from strength to strength, and holds regular workshops in permaculture and biodynamics, gluten-free cooking, craft, environmental issues, and much, much more. Children's workshops are also held regularly, and there are special programs during the school holidays.
The markets, which have now been held for five consecutive years, are held every Saturday (including public holidays) from 8am until 12 noon. As well as certified organic fruit and vegetables, other items which can be purchased here include organic dry goods, organic personal care items (including cosmetics and baby-care products), environmentally sensitive household cleaning products, organically grown plants and seeds, and hand-made gifts. Of course, this is just a small sample of what is available!
Local musicians enhance the harmonious and laid-back ambiance, and visitors are encouraged to wander around the numerous garden beds, the aquaponics system and the plant nursery in order to gain inspiration for their own eco gardening projects at home. Throughout the project, many beautiful works of art are displayed, which further heighten the creative, earth-friendly vibe, and also give much-needed exposure to local artists.
For more information, visit Perth City Farm website.
Address: 1 City Farm Place, East Perth (off Lime Street).
Phone: 08 9325 7210
People and Animal Welfare Society
The PAWS shop and cafe, Northbridge
Best known by its acronym, PAWS, the People and Animal Welfare Society has in recent years become synonymous with socially and environmentally ethical action here in Perth. Its cafe and shopfront on Beaufort Street, Northbridge, serves as the public face for an organisation which encompasses a large number of worthy concerns including animal welfare, environmentally sensitive farming, healthy eating (especially veganism and a raw food diet), spirituality, and the care of the homeless.
Adhering to PAWS' ahimsa (non-violent) ideals, the shopfront stocks a wonderful array of products for the ethically-conscious shopper such as organic dry goods, vegan grocery items, health foods, dairy alternatives, organic cosmetics, baby-care and home-care products, biodegradable sanitary products for women, environmentally sensitive pest control, clothing, shoes, pet care and vegan cookbooks. For raw food practitioners, the store also provides the best assortment of books and ingredients available in Perth while vegetarians and vegans will be pleasantly surprised to discover a comprehensive range of meat substitutes, including some of the Linda McCartney range. For the erstwhile vegan lover of chocolate, there is also a delicious range of dairy-free chocolates and ice-creams. The cafe which adjoins the shop enables you to purchase and try some of these delights before you get some to take home.
An online store is also available, if you live too far away to pay a visit.
An inspirational organisation which strives to combat poverty in developing countries around the globe, Oxfam is well known in Australia for its exquisite gift-shops which stock a huge range of handcrafted, 'fair-trade' products ranging from men and women's apparel and accessories to stationary, gifts and home-wear. Through the sale of such products, Oxfam empowers economically disadvantaged people to support their families in a creative and dignified way, thus breaking the cycle of poverty. Whereas the majority of import businesses exploit their suppliers in order to make an unfair profit, the concept of 'fair trade' advocates that artisans and other 'grass-roots' producers receive a fair cut of the profit from the products which they create or grow.
Here in the Perth area, we're fortunate to have two Oxfam shops: one in Perth city, and the other in Fremantle. For readers who live too far away to visit either, there is also an on-line shop on the Oxfam website.
It's great, isn't it! I love all the exotic things from round the world, that are hard to get elsewhere here in Perth....and the fact that the people who made them get all (or most) of the profit rather than some greedy business person...