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LAist Interviews Laura Meyer, CEO of TheUltimateGreenStore.com

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The future of toy cars? The H-Racer is the smallest hydrogen powered car in the world. All photos courtesy of The Ultimate Green Store.com

LAist had a chance to talk with LA-resident and "green-shopping" expert Laura Meyer, founder and CEO of the recently launched TheUltimateGreenStore.com. Meyer took the time to share her green gift picks and shopping tips and fill us in on what to expect for green products in 2009.

What lead you to start The Ultimate Green Store.com?

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There were a few inspirations. First off, as a green columnist who has written about everything from remodeling green to greening kids back-to-school supplies I have been researching green products and brands for a while but was never able to find the ones I liked in one place. Also, I have spoken at a number of green-themed events and, living in a progressive city such as Los Angeles, I found that my typical audience had embraced the concept of going green but beyond buying organic food, had a lot of questions about other types of green products- what to buy, why and where to shop.

It seemed to me that there was a need for a green superstore of sorts and that is what I sought to create. I say superstore because that's often these days the way people shop. We all lead busy lives and everything in one place means convenience. So our tag line is "Your One-Stop Green Shopping Destination." My company has launched with a lot of products in many high-demand categories and there is a lot more to come.

What is the goal/vision behind The Ultimate Green Store.com?

My goal is to educate without overwhelming my shopper, to bring shopping green to the mainstream and, in doing so, to make a difference. There is no question that if consumers change the way they shop, the benefits will be far-reaching from personal health to the sustainability of our eco-systems and the planet as a whole. Take making the switch to organic cotton as an example. Conventional cotton crops account for 25% of all the pesticide used on this planet. That's a lot of toxic chemicals.

I also hope that in bringing all these products together in one place, many of the myths about green products will be dispelled. There are so many misconceptions about eco-friendly products - that they don't look good or smell good is just an example. There is the feeling out there by so many people that shopping green is a sacrifice. It's just not the case. If one takes a look at all the products I sell, they are beautiful, quality, effective products that stand on their own - green or not.

Finally, in terms of goals, there are a lot of non-profit organizations out there that have wonderful green missions that I will be supporting through traffic generated on the site and with part of the store profits. I will be spending a good deal of time on that and you'll see more about that in 2009.

We are used to hearing that nobody drives in LA, and at first look, people might think LA seriously lacks in terms of sustainability. Where do you think Los Angeles stands in terms of this and what sort of potential do you see for improvement?

I am a native New Yorker who grew up using public transportation and that's one of the areas where LA is lacking. By the way, the biggest problem is not that it's not there but that so few people use it. I must be the only person who has family members who actually use the bus system! When my parents come and visit me from New York they get around very nicely using public transportation. I was against the widening of the 405 project and would have much rather seen all that money go towards public transportation initiatives. One bright spot is that my children's school has a mandatory carpool policy. We save a lot of energy by carpooling and I think more and more parents are getting on that bandwagon.

What is the most important thing to look for when trying to buy "green" products and goods? Are there any commonly used products out there are misleading as to their "greenness"?

There are a variety of certifications in a number of categories so when buying organic cotton, for example, you can look for companies that use SKAL certified cotton. In the skincare industry there are respected certifications such as BIOCOSC and COSMEBIO. But that is not the end all and be all. Read about how the product is green.Make sure the manufacturer supplies good information. At TheUltimateGreenStore.com we have detailed product descriptions as well as information about each company. Read and learn! As far as misleading information goes, a product isn't necessarily as green as it could be just because the packaging is green. Take green cleaning products. There are some companies that market the products as green because the bottle is made from recycled content. When buying that kind of product, the chemical make up of the product should also be green.

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What is your biggest go green tip?

Clean Green. I have two boys who had asthma and I can tell you changing to green cleaning products made a difference.

What is your favorite thing to do in LA?

Going to the beach.

What are your green gift picks for children?

For boys- The H-Racer (pictured above). It's the smallest hydrogen powered car in the world and an introduction to alternative energy for kids.
Girls love the Rock Star Organics hemp hats (pictured above) and the organic cotton Baby Legs leg warmers. They come in all kinds of colors and patterns, can also be worn on the arms under a t-shirt and are great stocking stuffers! You'll be seeing a lot of wonderful additions to our kids section in 2009 including eco-friendly sports gear.

What are your green gift picks for everyone else?

My most popular department thus far is the solar category and everyone who knows me knows I always carry around a solar bag (pictured at right) to charge all my small portable devices off the grid. They are very cool and come in a variety of different colors and styles (backpacks, daypacks, messenger bags)! The portable solar chargers are also a fantastic gift. Less expensive items that make great gifts are the Green-Tee organic cotton T-shirts (very hip) and the tree-free stationery sets and journals made from post-consumer materials blended with agricultural waste (bananas, tobacco, lemons and coffee).