When most people think of a green lifestyle they are often intimidated – and often misinformed. It tends to evoke this image of a righteous overbearing granola hippy, said local Saratoga business owner Karen Totino.
For Karen living green is about being outgoing, warm, and informative, definitely without the often attributed judgment and pushiness. “We all don’t know what we don’t know,” she said.
To overcome this issue and promote healthy living spaces, Karen began Green Conscience, a local provider of healthy and sustainable home improvement products. By advocating green living, Karen gives like-minded people knowledge about their current environments and the opportunity to create a more restful, nurturing, and inspiring space.
Karen comes from a background in Organizational Therapy, having received a Master’s Degree in the field. I love helping people, and working alongside them to find functional solutions to their problems, she said.
A lot of friends and family were shocked when she “abandoned” her career path to begin her own business. For Karen, she is even more engaged in what she loves, helping and informing people – only now it is lifestyle therapy.
The core of Green Conscience is about genuinely listening to customers. It is not enough to hear other’s issues, but to understand and act on them to achieve a solution within their means.
There are a lot of pre-existing myths about green building – that it’s unaffordable, or not durable – but these are simply untrue, she said. To spread the message, Karen gives back not only to our community but her trade.
We do mixers and speaking engagements for local health conscious individuals, builders, contractors, and modelers, said Karen emphasizing that everything was fun and social.
When she first started informing about the importance of healthy living Karen realized that she couldn’t offer education if there weren’t any outlets for execution. That’s how Green Conscience was born.
Developing a Green Conscience
When you have kids you look at what you’re doing more closely, said Karen. You start to examine what foods and cleaners you are buying, and what sort of chemicals are in your house, she added.
One day Karen was talking a walk through her neighborhood when she noticed scores of yellow flags declaring the recent spraying of pesticides, many of which were planted directly above storm drains.
Many of Karen’s most memorable summers growing up were spent on Kaydeross Creek. And all of those storm drains, and the now pesticide permeated water all feed into the creek.
I called the county that day to start organic lawn classes, Karen recalled. While there was considerable interest, she realized that most people didn’t have the time to take care of their own lawns. So in 2005 she began her first business, an organic lawn care operation.
Having grown her clientele from 11 to 80 lawns, Karen realized there were healthy alternatives available across the home improvement spectrum. In 2009, she expanded her business and began Green Conscious.
We started in home improvement at the worst time, she laughed, but there was interest and the business just celebrated their fifth year anniversary with continuing growth on the horizon.
Green Conscience is your community’s retailer of home improvement products that won’t only minimize harm but actively promote your well-being. All of their offerings are unique products, like flooring, counter tops and finishes that you won’t find in any big box store.
The walls of Green Conscious are covered with a soft breathable stucco finish that uses ionization to push away dust and dirt – as opposed to typical plastic paints that collect debris – and even stores moisture to control mold and mildew.
The tabletop we sat down to chat over was composed of compressed, recycled sunflower seed husks.
With their unique products, Green Conscience helps people who are passionate about healthy living and home improvement to create their own home oasis, Karen said. And there is few things more gratifying for Karen then assisting her customers with their needs.
Not too long ago an elderly woman came into Karen’s Church Street based shop complaining about painful back aches. Karen worked with her to find an affordable solution and received an ecstatic call a few weeks later. “It’s not because I’m old,” smiled Karen, “it was my old mattress.”
People owe it to themselves to be open and really consider different options, she said. There should be no compromise of values for consumers, and Karen is confident that Green Conscious can provide healthy lifestyle options for anyone regardless of preferences or budgets.
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