a peek inside the fishbowl

16 Nov, 2012

New gig! Great stuff!

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Oh! Things!|Ottawa|Publishing/writing/career stuff

I’ve been hired to write a short series of blog posts for the terra20 store blog and I’m really excited about it.

Have you been to terra20 yet? I was first introduced to this concept back in the Spring. It’s a pretty neat idea. You see, terra20 is a something akin to a department store, but the twist here is that the products they carry are eco-friendly. Every item is scrutinized: is it organic? tested on animals? over packaged? contain harmful chemicals? made out of sustainable materials? etc.

The range of goods they carry is surprising but the biggest draws for me are the cosmetics and personal care departments, followed by the kitchen and entertaining areas/children’s/household/pet sections… which are all tied for a close second in my books. (Did you KNOW there are eco-friendly pet supplies? Neither did I. This whole thing has been a great learning experience!)

I was lucky to get sneak previews and attend the media grand opening a couple months ago, at which point I had a bit of an epiphany. Eco-friendly products are no longer limited to HEMP and BROWN and ITCHY (and sometimes all three). I walked around terra20 like a kid in a candy store, I still do. Eco has come far my friends.

And that’s where my blogger-for-hire gig comes in. It combines my love of writing with my love of beautiful things and mindful consumerism. It’s kind of awesome.

My first post is about gifts for moms. (As I write this I realize that I probably should have named it Top Picks for Me instead of Top Picks for Moms. Ha.)  It was very hard to get out of the store without grabbing stuff for myself, like this vintage-style hanky by Pilo:

Vintage hanky by PIlo


… or some lipgloss to feed my addiction. I will get some next time for sure.

Lip gloss

This might sound odd, but shopping here is a relief in a way; someone else has done all the research and asked all the tough questions on my behalf. I know I can pick up a product with confidence and trust that it’s going to be GOOD. And that means a lot.

Anyway, yes! You can read my first post on the terra20 blog over here.

Anything on my list strike your fancy? And I’d really like to know if a product’s eco-friendliness factor plays a role in your decision to purchase or not. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

13 Responses to "New gig! Great stuff!"

1 | Alicia

November 16th, 2012 at 10:37 pm


Eco-friendliness has become a huge factor on my lists for my children this year…if only I could find a way to communicate that to family and friends delicately…
I love your list. We visited the store for the first time last week and we spent most of our time in the toy section and home decor section – love those cable knit throws!

2 | Pamela

November 16th, 2012 at 11:00 pm


Hey Alicia, our parenting blogger Laila will probably be blogging about that issue in her next post (theme is surviving the holidays as an eco-mom). I’m glad you had a good experience in the store! In case you’re interested, we have P’Kolino Art Supplies visiting tomorrow afternoon and we’ll have art stations set up for the kids. :)

3 | lacoo

November 17th, 2012 at 6:28 am


Eco-friendliness is a very big part of our decision making. When we do find products that we think are sensible (i.e. less impact on the planet), we tend to stick with them even if they are more expensive. We are also very big on trying to find products that are locally made, then Canadian made, then North American made….less fuel spent getting it to us, but also it just supports the people who are closer to us which seems to be a common sense approach (sadly, most of society seems to focus on one factor: is it cheap!….that is short sighted and will probably come back to bite them when they retire and find they have eroded their own tax base as well as the future of their children).

4 | Iain Robson

November 17th, 2012 at 7:37 am


That is great to here Andrea

I honestly haven’t gotten into the Eco-friendliness thing a lot.

It is good to see some companies take it seriously. Also, I understand what you mean when you say, “I know I can pick up a product with confidence and trust that it’s going to be GOOD.” That is a very nice feeling.

With many of the recent new breaks things like safety of food, and how things are made have come up more lately.

Congratulations again.


5 | Joy

November 17th, 2012 at 2:10 pm


I love Terra20! I especially love that they carry locally-made products, like Purple Urchin!

6 | Ginger

November 17th, 2012 at 10:10 pm


Shopping eco-friendly is becoming a large part of our life. I am constantly reading and searching and trying new things.

I sadly can’t order from this store since they don’t ship to the U.S.

BUT!!!! I love that they have a list of brands. I have been searching through them and have found several that I have never heard of and plan to check out. A few things have even made my wish list for Christmas. Because of the brands list they are sharing their research and knowledge so everyone can make better choices! I LOVE that!

7 | Allison

November 19th, 2012 at 1:04 am


I share your sentiments on shopping at terra20 – it does feel like a bit of a relief when you walk in there. You are a perfect fit to do a series of blog posts – congrats!

8 | binki

November 20th, 2012 at 11:38 am


I am having a tough time finding a shower timer (5 min). Does anyone know where to get these? I thought Terra20 would for sure carry this kind of thing but I didn’t see one. Anyone know? An hourglass (sand) or digital version is fine. I see nice shower timers on the internet but they don’t ship to Canada. I tried to make one with the little sand timers (egg timers) they sell at Lee Valley but it’s kinda ugly and not too user friendly.

9 | Pamela

November 20th, 2012 at 12:43 pm


Hi binki, we are open to customer product suggestions. You’ve mentioned that you have seen them online- if you have a specific product you’re interested in, we’d love it if you made a product request through our online form. http://www.terra20.com/contact/ It is possible that you can’t find what you’re looking for in Canada (and terra20) because the packaging is not bilingual compliant, we’ve run into that with a few things.

10 | coffeewithjulie

November 21st, 2012 at 2:00 pm


Hi Andrea! I agree with the other commenters that you are perfect for this gig! I am enthralled with Terra20 as well. I’ve been on a personal learning mission to learn more about the toxins in our body care products and it is CRAZY. Right now, I’m part way through “There’s Lead in Your Lipstick.” It’s a wild west, unregulated business it would seem. Ugh. That’s why I too think a store like this is a relief … it is too exhausted to try and do all the screening as an individual. When a store takes this one for me, I’m definitely willing to bring my dollars there.

11 | binki

November 23rd, 2012 at 12:18 pm


If there’s lead in your lipstick, maybe it’s time to stop using these products? Natural is beautiful.

Gandhi said “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

12 | Phil

November 25th, 2012 at 9:42 am


How did you get hired by them? I am just curious as to how to put myself out there to get some writting experience?


13 | andrea

November 25th, 2012 at 9:45 am


Thanks for your comments everyone!

Phil: My advice to you is (1) Write (2) make sure people see your writing and (3) get on LinkedIn! It’s a great tool and many people don’t use it.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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