By Maggie Grainger
When Kristi Reimers’ family moved to Stavanger, Norway when she was a young child, she had no idea the beautiful countryside would propel her love for all things natural for the rest of her life.
“It was a magical place for me,” the owner of Eco Carmel remembers fondly. “I was eight. The seasons were extreme, and the nature stunning.” Describing the colors as more vibrant, and sharing how everyone ventured outside to the grassy areas, flowers, rivers, and waterfalls on days when the sun smiled down on the town, Reimers admits this idyllic time shaped her.
When her family returned to Carmel Valley two years later, she became a voice for Mother Nature. As a teen, she would stand outside the Carmel Valley Long’s Drug Store (now the site of the CVS in the Crossroads) to hand out pamphlets discussing the inhumane treatment of animals and write letters to area officials. Her passion for environmental rights stayed with her through adulthood and after years of pursuing an acting career in Los Angeles and London, she opened Eco Carmel and has never looked back.
This green general store offers everything from baby clothes and bedding to non-toxic paints and counter tops and everything in between to guarantee a greener home or business. Reimers even mixes her own paint and creates her own counter tops using recycled materials like shredded office paper and beer bottles right in the store. She has also become a green consultant for builders throughout Monterey County.
Reimers got her business sense from her grandparents who moved to the area in the 1920s and opened the Carmel Inn located two doors down from Reimers’ current storefront.
“During the war years, my Grandma Kristi ran the Inn by herself. My grandfather was up in Alaska helping build an Army base,” she explains. “She was a strong, strong woman.” Her grandfather would eventually return to Carmel and open the town’s first electrical appliance store, where Le St Tropez restaurant now stands. Her pipe dream was to have a business and do theater on the side.
She knew she had a long road ahead of her, but she was up for the challenge. Logging in long hours conducting research and experimenting with different products finally paid off when Reimers opened her doors in 2010.
To give back to the community that has been so supportive, she holds classes in the store and does environmental outreach programs at her alma mater, All Saints’ Day School. Eco Carmel also acts as a pick-up and drop-off point for community supported agriculture and fish programs.
Reimers doesn’t expect people to go green all at once, but she says there are many small ways you can make a big difference, such as investing in a shower filter, which is crucial for eliminating chlorine gas (equivalent to drinking 100 glasses in one shower) from the enclosed bathing environment. “Adding a filter can help your skin, hair, and breathing.”
Another quick tip: Ditch the paper towels. “You see families use roll after roll, they use it for everything,” says Reimers. She recommends European sponge cloths that clean any mess. Another option is a cloth napkin when eating dinner. Those two things can omit the many rolls of paper towels used every month.
“Its all about baby steps,” she admits. “You can start with something as small as not using Saran Wrap anymore and using our organic cotton dipped in beeswax. There are so many roads you can take.” As for Reimers, she’s taking the road that she discovered years ago when she first forged a relationship with nature, becoming her advocate and friend.