Ask Kristi Reimers what she likes about selling and you’ll hear crickets. But inquire about green products and you’ll find she’s got plenty to say.
Kristi Reimers, proprietor of Eco Carmel, says the number of environmentally friendly products on the market continues to grow at a steady pace.
“Sales is not fun; education is fun,” says Kristi, who opened her shop, Eco Carmel, about six years ago in Carmel-By-The-Sea after managing a local spa. “That’s how we speak with customers; we’re excited about the green products that work well.”
Eco Carmel has evolved from general store into an invaluable resource for alternatives to otherwise toxic products. Here you’ll find a great selection of bedding, paint, pet items, cleaners, soaps and baby products. Kristi stays true to the definition of “green” and warns against the proliferation of “green washing” in the marketplace.
“Consumers need to be aware that just because it says ‘natural’ on the packaging doesn't mean there aren’t a lot of chemicals used,” Kristi says. “It’s important to read the list of ingredients to find out what’s really inside; the front label is just advertising.”
To stock her shelves, Kristi listens to her customers and their needs and then gets to work. She spends hours looking into products and tries each one before bringing it into the store.
“I research what’s available, the healthier version of what may be otherwise toxic,” Kristi says. “Then we call the company and ask a lot of questions—where and how the product is made, about fair trade practices, how the item is disposed of.”
That’s how she came across LooHoo Wool Dryer Balls.
“We were carrying PVC-free plastic dryer balls and one of our customers had heard about LooHoos,” Kristi says. “We found out LooHoos were made in the U.S. by a woman-owned business and that you can do so much more with them—you can dampen them for static removal and add essential oils to the balls for scent. And they’re not plastic.”
Ask about the benefits of Savvy Rest mattresses and Kristi gushes about the line.
“The mattresses are made with organic cotton and wool, which is a natural flame proofing,” Kristi says. “These materials resist dust mites and are great for anyone with allergies. The mattresses can be customized and they are really comfortable.”
Another favorite find are beeswax-dipped Abeego organic cotton sheets used to store and preserve food, a malleable alternative to aluminum foil and plastic wrap. The sheets are easily cleaned with soap and water and last several years.
Outside of the store Kristi is just as eager to share the importance of green living. She teaches children at local schools about the relevance of reusable items and composting. She also advises area businesses on sustainable practices and creating less waste in the workplace.
Above all, Kristi wants everyone to know that eco-friendly products can be effective and affordable. The AFM Safecoat paint they carry, for example, is non-toxic and low-odor. The cost is about the same as any reputable paint on the market.
“This is a misconception I battle on a daily basis,” Kristi says. “There are so many great products out there that are high quality and durable. If you choose the right ones they often work better. And as more products come on the market the prices go down.”
Eco Carmel is putting the finishing touches on its new second story, which will house a mattress showroom and design center. The store website should be up by the end of the month. Until then, check out https://www.facebook.com/ecocarmel.