Earth Centre to offer environmental option to students

Eco-friendly retail store to open tomorrow

Maryam Adrangi, Queen’s Earth Centre co-chair, sits in the retail space which opens tomorrow.
Maryam Adrangi, Queen’s Earth Centre co-chair, sits in the retail space which opens tomorrow.

If nothing else, the incredibly mild winter we’ve been experiencing up to now should be a signal that more effort needs to be put into helping the environment. With this in mind, the arrival of the Earth Centre is just the place where students can drop in to do their share. Located in Macgillvary-Brown Hall, next to the Fair Trade Co-op, this centre will provide both literature and products to educate students about the environment. Deputy Commissioner for the SIC Environment Committee, Tim Philpott, called it “the SHRC [Sexual Health Resource Centre] but for the environment.”

Philpott said that the Centre was envisioned two or three years ago, but “finally this year it really started to come together and it has really come into its own space.” Although it is currently part of the AMS and, therefore, funded under the Social Issues Commission’s budget, the Centre is hoping to operate as a club next year. Earth Centre co-chair Michelle Berquist said, “that way, we can apply to be an opt-outable fee, which isn’t allowed under a committee to the AMS.”

The Centre is not-for-profit and will be selling household and personal items for students to buy. These include items such as laundry detergent, toothpaste, and toilet paper. All are environmentally-friendly products. Earth Centre co-chair Maryam Adrangi said, “there’s such a niche market because there’s not that many resources for students to make simple changes in their consumption patterns.” Added Berquist, “it’s stuff that everyone uses so it’s just a way to do it in a more socially-conscious way.”

With prices such as a 4-roll box of recycled toilet paper for $1.50, the Centre also aims to keep prices competitive with local retailers. Berquist said, “these prices are trial prices. Prices won’t be finalized until after we open.” Many of the products cannot be found elsewhere in Kingston, as they are ordered from the Toronto-based Ontario Natural Food Co-op. The Co-op brings together suppliers from all over Ontario. The Earth Centre will not be selling food, but there will be many other household items from such labels as Nature Clean, Ecover, and Green Beaver.

The Earth Centre also plans to set up a resource library where students will have access to literature and magazines about environmental issues they may not be able to find out about from the other libraries. For this year, however, Berquist said, “we’re focussing mostly on the eco-friendly store. The resource library is a long-term vision.”

Amanda Graham, ArtSci ’10, thinks it is a good idea. “Students always choose the easier choice, and [the Centre] is close and right on campus,” she said. Will she be going there to do her shopping? “Yeah, right after classes.” The Centre will be open from 4:30pm-6:30pm every Monday-Friday. “Even if people don’t come into the store all the time, we’re fostering discussion even because of our existence,” Adrangi said.

The Earth Centre is having its grand opening tonight at 9:00pm at the Grad Club. There will be a live band, raffles, door prizes, and some products for sale. Minimum $2 donation at the door.

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