By: Tiffany Janay
â€œLuring innocent people into environmental activism through great productsâ€
Ecotopiia is an eco-friendly business located in the City of Encinitas.Â Taking a trip up there is definitely worth it. You can turn it into an organic day trip and visit the meditation garden right up the street, which seems to sit right on top of the ocean.
The store has been in town for about 20 years and in the same location for the last 13 years.Â In 2005, Josiah Shamahd and Emily Matson took over the business and changed the name from Environgentle to Ecotopiia.
They started out as glassblowers traveling the country and their journey led them to the Seaside Bazaar in Encinitas. They were already in the lifestyle of living healthy and making the best choices possible for themselves, but as they traveled across the country, they began meeting the coolest people with awesome products and became inspired to support the industry. They took all of their money and invested it into organic clothing and it was well received. They have been growing steadily ever since.
They do a lot more than just clothing. They have body and personal care products, household cleaners, paint, grout sealers, books on how to garden and build a sustainable home, and cookbooks, as well as food and beverages.
Just recently, they featured all of their hemp clothing in support of Organic Bloodâ€™s Hemp Edible & Wearable Fashion Show for National Hemp History Week. Organic and hemp clothing are becoming very popular. They inspired Ecotopiia to launch a web store, which is now bringing them international business.
Letâ€™s learn about what their business is doing to protect our local environment.
What makes clothing organic?
It basically goes through the same process as food; but, itâ€™s more important to understand whatâ€™s NOT organic. Think about explaining organics to a 3-year-old.Â The term â€˜organicâ€™ is what we use to describe food that we donâ€™t put poisons on. Let me explain what conventional clothing is. Most clothing is made of cotton, which is one of the most poisoned plants on the planet.Â It takes about a 1/3 of a pound of pesticide to grow enough cotton to make one t-shirt.Â Now, multiply that by millions and millions and millions. That is going into the ground water, into our food, into the soil, and itâ€™s coming out as acid rain.Â When it goes into the cotton, it actually goes into the fibers and you canâ€™t wash it out. Itâ€™s not like something that is sprayed onto the t-shirt after itâ€™s made.Â It is grown inherently in the fabric. Our epidermal layer, our skin, is our largest organ, so to wear this poisoned cotton on our skin is like wrapping ourselves in poison 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.Â We have it on our sheets, our pillowcases, our socks, our underwear, pants, EVERYTHING!
Thatâ€™s pretty gross!
Yes, and we wonder why skin cancer is going through the roof. The other aspect that people donâ€™t think of is when you consider buying conventional food (non-organic); it is under so much scrutiny. There are a lot of regulations on what they can spray on it, but when you are talking about cotton, itâ€™s not food; they can use any pesticides they want, it doesnâ€™t matter.Â The pesticides they are using on the cotton are not only in the largest amounts, but theyâ€™re also the worst kinds you can possibly use because they have no USDA food regulations. Unfortunately, itâ€™s because pesticides are not food, which makes it even worse.
I can personally feel a huge difference if I wear a regular, conventional cotton t-shirt. Â
Weâ€™ve been wearing organic and hemp clothing for much longer than weâ€™ve been selling it for, and thatâ€™s just from living the life of that culture and spreading the word.Â Itâ€™s almost like everything else is the crazy stuff and weâ€™re just the normal ones wearing the normal stuff.
Whatâ€™s your favorite thing that you sell?
I like the clothing a lot, but one of the things Iâ€™ve been most proud of, is the Dr. Bronnerâ€™s refill center we have. People can bring in whatever container they want to refill and pay by the ounce. They can save a lot of money and plastic. We also have Biokleen laundry and dish soap on tap â€“ literally, itâ€™s a beer tap that we converted. We had it custom-made.Â People come in and are blown away because theyâ€™ve never seen anything like it and it should be standard!
How do you reach people who donâ€™t know that they need to be reached?
We get people who walk into our shop all the time and have no idea what theyâ€™re walking into. They probably havenâ€™t been in a shop like this at all, but because of our location, they just happen to walk in. We can really see a change in a lot of these people, almost right away, when we start talking to them.Â We try to educate our customers as much as possible. We do a little advertising, but a lot of it is word of mouth.
What about the price?Â Itâ€™s a bit more expensive than what they are used to, so how do you deal with that?
Itâ€™s all relative. We try to have these really awesome products that just happen to be as eco-friendly as possible, and people really latch onto the products because theyâ€™re so great.Â Itâ€™s almost like you canâ€™t afford not to.Â Itâ€™s the harsh truth of the matter.Â People are seriously hurting themselves with a barrage of different chemicals that are unbelievable.
The cotton industry is really trying to prevent all other options. They have lobbyists in Washington, D.C. who are working for them to prevent people from importing bamboo, hemp and anything else. They make it as hard as possible to do so. Itâ€™s a huge business and the cotton industry makes billions of dollars a year. They are constantly chopping away at it. They lobby to increase tariffs or keep them high on all other options, and to also keep hemp illegal. Hemp is a big part of our business. A lot of our clothes are made of hemp: body care, accessories (belts, hats, bags, wallets).Â The benefits of hemp are unbelievable. It lasts longer, itâ€™s easier to grow, itâ€™s sustainable, and you donâ€™t need to use any pesticides because it grows like a weed.
We sell lots of edible hemp as well: hemp seed, protein powder, oil, bars, and hemp kombucha, which is our #1 seller.
What other clothing materials do you have there?
We have PET, which is recycled water bottles, soy, which is a byproduct of the tofu and soy milk industry, flax, modal (from the beech tree), bamboo, which isnâ€™t the most sustainable by all means, but a better choice, and we have a ton of organic cotton.Â We have a lot of things that just get people thinking, which is equally as important to us.
Visit Ecotopiia at 543 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, 92024 or give them a call at 760-753-7420.
Check them out online at Ecotopiia.com and log on to OrganicBlood.com to see the video from their most recent hemp fashion show.