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Lofty goals



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To switch to this model of "cradle to cradle" the traditional criteria for purchasing products needed to be re-evaluated.

Price and performance can no longer be the sole indicators for product evaluation, said Horn.

Slope Side culled together a set of new criteria from different sources to measure their products along the lines of sustainable purchasing.

They still considered price and the effectiveness of their supplies but now they were taking into account:

• Manufacturing — how is the product is made;

• Packaging — is it packaged in recycled material;

• Transportation — how far did it have to come;

• Product Utilization — does it control waste and;

• Waste Management — can it be broken down by nature.

Horn admits it’s very hard to measure these criteria.

For example, an American company like Seventh Generation sells various cleaning products among its product lines. It has been branded as a non-toxic, environmentally responsible company.

But the products, while they may be environmentally friendly, still need to be shipped from the east. They also have more packaging than other cleaning products in Vancouver and they’re not concentrated, meaning a lot of what is shipped is water.

"It’s a huge puzzle figuring out what’s better and what’s worse and it’s really hard," said Horn.

When asked how to calculate if one product is more sustainable than another, Horn shrugs and honestly admits, "I don’t know what you do."

Slope Side has started changing some of their product lines based on the sustainability model.

All the coffee that they sell is organic, farmer first and fair traded. They sell an environmental cleaner made in Vancouver and their napkins, like the garbage bags and toilet paper, are all 100 per cent recycled.

They also bought cases of a non-aerosol oven cleaner as an environmental replacement for a traditional aerosol oven cleaner. Most of those cases are still sitting full in their warehouse at Function Junction.

Horn said people don’t like change even if the product is just as effective.

"We’re trying to jump the gun a little bit," he said.

"(The oven cleaners) reaffirmed to us that the whole idea of sustainability is a long-term thought process and we need to get the customers on the same wavelength.

"It’s not just a switch that you can turn on."