Alum opens green store - Los Angeles Loyolan : News

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Posted: Thursday, January 29, 2009 12:00 am

Six months ago, after graduating from Loyola Marymount with an MBA, Scott O'Brien opened a green business. Located on Main Street in Santa Monica, The Green Life carries various environmentally friendly products such as household cleaners, cosmetics and baby products.

The idea for an all-green store stemmed from O'Brien's personal life. 'Several years ago I was cleaning my shower and was using a bleach-based cleaner,' said O'Brien. 'My lungs started hurting and I thought 'there's got to be a better product.''

This experience led him to develop a group project for a marketing class that then turned into a graduate thesis and, eventually, a solid business.

Kermit the Frog would say 'being green ain't easy,' but O'Brien encourages everyone not to be intimidated.

'A lot of people think that in order to live a greener lifestyle you have to sacrifice a lot. Products that are green work just as well as other conventional products and sometimes better because the companies use better ingredients,' he said.

Although green brands may be more expensive, they are more conscious of their packaging as well. An example can be found in the brand Pangea Organics, known for making soap, who packages its merchandise in what looks like regular cardboard. Yet, if one were to throw away the packaging in their backyard, it would break down into seeds that then produce flowers.

Green commodities are also inherently healthier. O'Brien said, 'Ever since I switched my house over to green cleaners and products I've been sick a lot less. Consumers are telling me they don't have allergies anymore. I think a lot of people are realizing now how unhealthy a lot of the traditional products are.'

Unfortunately, since green products have become so trendy, it's hard to decipher which products are actually green.

'[Companies are] taking the products that have one green attribute and saying 'Oh, we're green.' It's hard because consumers think they're buying green and they're not. It's not a black and white thing; there's so many levels in between,' said O'Brien.'

'One thing I recommend is the cosmetic safety database Skin Deep (thecosmeticsdatabase.com). They look at every ingredient and rate it on a scale with 10 being the worst. I run all of my stuff through it. Everything in the store is about three or less.'

O'Brien's store stays cool with brick walls and a concrete floor instead of using the air conditioner. He uses paper bags instead of plastic because it's easier to recycle. His merchandise is Bispheriol A (BPA) free, organic and supports social responsibility such as fair trade companies.

When asked about his LMU education, O'Brien said, 'LMU gave me the tools to step into a business and know what to do from the beginning. [When owning a business] you learn on the fly, and LMU helped me cut the learning curve.'

As a last piece of advice, O'Brien added, 'Think about the fact that every time you buy something you're voting with your money.'

Whether you want to save the environment or are in search of healthier alternatives, The Green Life makes it easy being green.

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