Earthstrong – sourcing green products for Cayman

Finding greener products in Cayman is becoming gradually easier. Earthstrong is one of the companies that has made it its mission to research environmentally friendly products and bring the best of them on island.

The company, currently operating as a wholesaler, is run by Christina Pineda and her husband. Pineda says she has been motivated to do something for the environment for some time. Born in Canada she says she “knew about recycling, but it never happened here”.

“It is really disheartening.” But rather than being bogged down by the progress Cayman still has to make or other obstacles like the recession, the husband and wife team made the decision to launch their own business Earthstrong Ltd in June 2010.

Research for the business, however, had started much earlier and now the company is bringing in products that fall into one of five categories. They must be either organic, natural, bio-degradable, eco-friendly or non-toxic, but ideally feature many or all of these characteristics.

“We are looking for products that rank highly according to the criteria, so four or five star products that meet all or most of the criteria,” says Pineda.

The company started with a couple of products that are 4 and 5 stars and is now steadily increasing its stock, adding new products every couple of months. “We have products lined up until the end of the year to introduce truly green products into the market,” she says.

“We are trying to give green products a proper place in society, give it more exposure and educate the people about it.”

Earthstrong’s product range features among others avitae, a caffeinated water, re:newal, a water that comes in a corn-based bio-degradable bottle and natural whey protein and fish oil fitness supplements from Stronger, Faster Healthier as well as organic coffee and organic herbal drinks.

The company also supplies a line of baby products made exclusively from renewable materials as well as all kinds of bags, from bin-liners to reusable shopping bags.

These biobags, made from corn-based plastic, are biodegradable in contrast to the ones that are currently in use on island, which are only degradable.

Another product that is going to be showcased by Earthstrong in April at the green events at the Governor’s house and at Camana Bay is an energy efficient ventilation system.

“We had it in two test homes on the Island and we had reported savings of 40 and 45 per cent per month on CUC bills,” Pineda says.

The initial investment in the Corwin Ventilation Smart System, which can be used in new construction and added to existing homes, will be recouped within a year or a year and a half from the energy savings.

In terms of the local demand for green products, she says that it helps that the expatriate population is already familiar with these kinds of products and understand what they are about.

A lot of the local population at the same time “are environmentalists, they just don’t realise it”, Pineda says. But within the context of issues such as the mangroves or Mount Trashmore the purpose and value of green products quickly becomes apparent, she notes.

There are many local businesses that are interested in the environment “and all of the supermarkets are really blazing the trail for these products”.

Earthstrong’s main customers are in addition to the supermarkets many of the tourism spots such as Boatswain’s Beach or Divetech’s Cobalt Coast resort. “Hotels are interested in it as well because if we are becoming a green destination that is even better for the Island,” she says, adding that eco-tourism is a strong focus for the business.

No compromise on price

Pineda does not think that customers necessarily need to pay more for eco-friendly products.

“Most of the pricing is very comparable to the things that are not green and not really that much more expensive,” she says. “In fact some are cheaper, for example the re:newal water that we are bringing in, the stores are selling it for $1.45 and water goes for much more than that nowadays.”

Price will be one of the factors that will make it much easier for the general public to go green and transition to buying green products.

“I think that has always been one of the deterrents that green things are just for rich people that can afford to think about the environment. No we are making it an every person everyday product,” she says.

Earthstong’s long term plan is, in addition to supplying other business with green products, to set up an online retail store for individual customers. “By the end of this year we will have our store online,” expects Pineda.