David Suzuki and Bruce Mau Behind New Eco-Boutique in Toronto


Pistachio's flagship Yonge & Eglinton location in Toronto. Photo courtesy of Pistachio.

Looking for beeswax crayons for the kids? Or perhaps you're in need of unique note cards printed on recycled paper with soy ink? If your dream store carries nothing but chic, eco-friendly products, you'll be nuts for Pistachio, a new retail store that opened in Toronto last month.

The shop with a conscience envisioned by Heather Reisman - the woman behind the Indigo Books empire (which, incidentally, has a rather impressive environmental policy for a bookstore) - goes the extra mile in greening lifestyle retail. But it all started, as the company's mission statement reveals, with a simple idea, "being generous, environmentally sensitive and engaged with life is good for us and good for the planet."This idea evolved into the company's fundamental concept that "being environmentally caring doesn't mean denying, abandoning or refusing the things we love, but rather designing, developing and using products in more informed, eco-friendly ways."

The strong environmental focus should come as no surprise when you consider the eco heavy-hitters advising Pistachio: environmentalist extraordinaire David Suzuki; Intelligent Nutrients and Aveda founder Horst Rechelbacher; writer and all-around eco-guru Renee Loux; designer Bruce Mau; publisher Nicole Rycroft; and architect Bruce Kuwabara.

With an elegant, classical entrance in a warm pale grey punctuated by chartreuse-framed glass doors and a clean-lined chartreuse awning bearing the company's name (perhaps pistachio was too bland a color on second thought?), the flagship Yonge & Eglinton store at 2433 Yonge St. oozes upscale eco-retail. Designed by Donald Chong to reflect the principles of the company, the first retail location features locally quarried Silverwater stone, reconstituted wood flooring, formaldehyde-free MDF, non-toxic eco resin panels, zero-VOC paint and Urban Tree Salvage furniture. The awning out front is even eco-friendly as it reduces solar-heat gain in the summer.

Inside are eco-friendly products ranging from organic cotton baby clothes and soy candles to organic lotions (for you and baby) and recycled fiber stationary. Many products are designed in-house under the Pistachio label headed by Creative Director Ashley Rosebrook (formerly the creative director at Aveda), while other products are sourced from eco-friendly companies.

Paper products are include Forest Stewardship Council-certified papers, paper with high post-consumer recycled content, chlorine-free paper, and partnerships with companies that use wind-generated electricity. The Pistachio line of paper products is manufactured in Canada with soy or low-VOC vegetable inks.

The apothecary collection features paraben-free, organic or sustainably produced products from Nature Girl, Pangea Organics, and vedaBABY, among other companies.

The gift line includes eco-friendly toys, organic wool throws, handmade ceramic tea sets, recycled glass tableware and organic gourmet foods made by local artisans, produced with sustainable materials or sourced from Fair Trade suppliers.

Anything sourced from vendors has to adhere to Pistachio's Purchasing Policy, which stipulates vendors must meet one of the guidelines: companies that use ethical sourcing of materials; local vendors (in the case of the Toronto store, everything is made in Canada or the U.S.); products handmade by artisans or craftspeople; companies which seek to improve working and environmental conditions in their communities; or companies committed to environmental responsibility. They also hold suppliers accountable for their practices, reviewing companies to make sure they're actually meeting the environmental and ethical guidelines laid out in the purchasing contract.

Pistachio's Yonge & Eglinton location opened last month, and another location is set to open at Yorkdale Shopping Centre Nov. 23. Pistachio plans to expand modestly, with six to eight new stores in Canada in 2009, but Reisman recently told the Financial Post she envisions locations across Canada and the United States. If the expansion of her book empire is anything to judge by, you'll soon be able to find a Pistachio near you.

Tags: Buy Local | Canada | David Suzuki | Ethical | Fair Trade | Gifts | Ontario | Shopping | Toronto

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