Come Clean and Go Green
This is the first of a new series on environmental issues which we hope will inform, challenge and inspire a response. Many readers will be familiar with Toucan Wholefoods, that amazing natural health store in The Avenue, Minehead which stocks a vast array of products to help keep us in tip-top condition. I recently went to meet the owner, Sally Eveleigh, who feels strongly that we should not only consider what we eat but also need to think about the wider picture and the detrimental effect of chemicals which can be absorbed through the skin.
As well as an exciting new cafe, on the first floor of the shop you will find organic cotton baby wear, ethical make-up, skin, hair and body care products plus household cleaning products. I soon learnt some new facts from my enthusiastic informant. Cotton, for example, is the most heavily sprayed crop on our planet, so what harm may it be doing to people who wear it and particularly babies? This is why Toucan stocks organic cotton baby wear. Chemicals in body care items can even be absorbed into the bloodstream so only ones free of synthetic additives are sold.
The response from customers has been tremendous, especially to the household cleaners created by Ecover, which for more than 27 years has been leading the field in creating effective ecological cleaning and washing products. Only renewable plant and sustainable mineral raw materials are used and the finished product must not only be effective but also biodegradable and kind to the skin. At Toucan, not only can you buy items such as washing powder in recyclable cardboard and washing up liquid, fabric softener and toiler cleaner, etc. in recyclable plastic bottles – but you can also take your empty bottles back to the shop to be refilled from large drums. This idea of refilling was the main reason behind the shop’s expansion and has certainly been overwhelmingly welcomed and used with enthusiasm by conscientious customers.
So much so, that in 2009 Sally went an all-expenses-paid two-day trip to Belgium and France. She, along with 14 other small retailers from across the UK, visited the original Ecover factory in Belgium where research and development take place. The building is positioned to follow the movement of the sun, ensuring maximum daylight, has its own water purification system and the flower-strewn roof provides excellent thermal and acoustic insulation in all seasons. They met the product development manager and were very impressed by his focus on continually pursuing the standard of high quality ecological cleaners with his motto, ‘Work in Progress’.
They then travelled to the new factory in Boulogne-sur-Mer, one of the first ecological production plants in France and built to reflect the firm’s high standards. Situated close to Calais, it minimises travel time for getting goods quickly into the rapidly growing UK market and is also able to supply countries across the world from these larger premises.
Sally returned from her experience feeling even more impressed by their dedication and their ethos in pioneering cleaning products that are high performance, environmentally responsible and economical. If just five per cent of families in the UK switched to their biological washing powder from a conventional product, more than half a million Olympic swimming pools worth of water would be safeguarded from pollution in a year. The toilet cleaner takes 400 times less water to neutralise after use than its nearest competitor. Another useful fact from Sally’s own experience living on Exmoor for ten years – septic tanks need emptying far less often if Ecover products are used. So what is our reaction – do we want to protect our world for future generations? If so, come clean and go green by using products like those from Toucan that won’t cost the earth and refill your bottles, not land-fill sites!
Toucan Wholefoods & Natural Health Store, 3 The Parade Minehead. 01643 706101