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At home the Green Way

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Going green is the new fad, but some are scared that buying earth-friendly products could be a damper on their wallets. What Terrance Black, co owner of Green Way Supply, wants people to ask themselves is "What's the cost of not doing it?"

Green Way Supply is a building supply store, located at 620 N. Delaware St. in downtown Indianapolis, offers earth-friendly products to homeowners and the building design community.

Opened in 2007, the store is fairly new and there are few competitors in the area. It's unique in the fact that customers purchasing anything in the store have the satisfaction knowing every product is environmentally friendly. It's a good resource for sustainable, healthier and energy-efficient products. The goal of the store, as stated by Black, is to "help people make better choices for themselves."

Some of the same products being offered in this store can be found in other building supply stores, but normally the products are few and the personnel are not as readily prepared to talk about the products. At Green Way Supply, everyone knows about the earth-friendly products because that's all they offer.

When Black was asked in an interview what product he thought should be in everyone's homes, he went and grabbed a can of old paint from behind a counter. "Read the label," said Black as he pointed to big letters spelling out "WARNING". If he could get one product into everyone's homes it would be the nontoxic Safecoat paint the store sells. This paint is comparably priced to other paints and is free from a lot of the harmful chemicals.

"There are huge misconceptions that going green is more expensive," said Black. "But really there are numerous things that people can change in their homes today that will be cost effective and even save them money."

One energy-efficient product the store has is the clothes line. Available in indoor and outdoor styles and ranging from about $50 to $200, using clothes lines can greatly reduce the cost of electricity bills and drying clothes inside during the dry winter adds needed moisture in the home.

Countertops and flooring at the store are made from recycled materials. Beautiful countertops made from glass, flooring made from bamboo and tiles made from cork are just a few of these items. The products are both comparable to competitor's prices and some are more expensive. The products are surprisingly beautiful. For instance, the elegant Sandhill glass tiles that are made from 100 percent recycled glass and are available in numerous sizes and radiant colors. Or the beautiful dark brown of the Durapalm paneling made from 100 percent coconut palm.

The store is versatile, having many products for different aspect of the home. Like Green For Life biodegradable kitchen trash bags costing $3.75. These trash bags are made from corn plastic and decompose faster than normal trash bags and the TraceyClean all purpose cleaner, a non-toxic cleaner costing $6.99.

GreenWay Supply's website is a good resource for searching for and purchasing products. For more information, visit www.greenwaysupply.net.

Neutralizing consumption

Matt Standish of Kentland, Ind., just north of Lafayette, has launched a new Web site to give consumers more choices to shop for eco-friendly home and office furnishings and accessories. His site, Tuwa.com aims to create a carbon neutral shopping experience and ultimate green consumer habits.

With TuwA points, eco-friendly online shopping could become carbon neutral. Users of the Tuwa site earn points with each purchase and with each point earned one pound of carbon offset is purchased. Customers who offset a whole ton of carbon with their purchases by accumulating 2,000 points are rewarded with a $20 e-gift certificate.

Tuwa's carbon offset is purchased through carbonfund.org and benefits renewable energy products, many in the Midwest. Through collaboration with carbonfund.org, Standish hopes to neutralize the carbon impact of the office, employees' commutes and all shipping and eventually be a "carbon positive" business.

Each product's point value is based on an extensive evaluation of factors such as materials, biodegradability, packaging and shipping, green manufacturing conditions and the supplier's involvement with fair trade or charitable giving. Some calculated values are already visible, such as a $7.99 dog toy that garners 57 points. Because the site is fairly new, many manufacturers have not yet returned the TuwA point survey; for now, their point values automatically match the product's price.

The site mainly features home and office furniture and accessories, and was launched in December 2008. The business centers on Standish's personal philosophy: "The activist side of me and the business side of me are always in flux," he says, explaining why he believes in the Tuwa's points system and the site's educational information.

"Even if we don't make a sale, we can educate our browsers," he explains.

RESOURCES:

* HundredYear.org: Online green building primer, developed by Tyson Domer, containing links to many other green building resources.??

* Indianapolis Power & Light Green Power Option: For a few cents more per kilowatt hour, you can enable IPL to purchase renewable energy (wind, solar, biomass) and reduce your dependence on fossil fuels. Request an enrollment packet at www.IPLpower.com or call 317-261-8222.

* USGBC: The U.S. Green Building Council's Web site lists green building efforts around the country, including LEED guidelines for schools, podcast interviews with green design leaders and more. Visit www.usgbc.org.

* Green Maps: Visit www.greenmap.com for visualizations of environmental and cultural resources in over 300 cities worldwide.??

* Indiana Community Action Association: INCAA provides weatherization services to low-income households and offers energy audits for other facilities. Visit www.incap.org.??

* Clean Energy Household Pledge: The Hoosier Environmental Council offers a simple set of actions any homeowner can take to become a "clean energy household." Visit www.hecweb.org.

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