Time invested upfront leads to big payoffs for Kind Living

Within a stone’s throw of Lake Couchiching, public hiking trails and cycling routes, Kind Living yoga studio and boutique in Orillia is the embodiment of a business built upon the principles of environmental sustainability. Offering a shopping experience and a full schedule of yoga classes in a sustainable, newly renovated space, Kind Living is a gem nestled by the shore of the lake.

Visitors can browse the well-stocked boutique knowing that owner Sue Sinclair has painstakingly researched the environmental and ethical principles adopted by the companies that produce the products. From yoga clothing to skin care, jewelry to purses, the boutique offers a variety of items to complement holiday—and any time of the year—shopping. Sue even looks for companies that minimize and reuse packaging, shipping materials, and labels when selecting products for the boutique.

The yoga studio and boutique space is beautifully finished and decorated, but behind this appeal is the great care taken to create a space that is gentle on the environment. Long before the first hammer was swung, plans for the studio design incorporated environmental sustainability. Thus, the natural environment was top of mind when building materials, choice of insulation, windows, heating systems, décor, appliances, water systems, landscaping, and building maintenance options were selected. Having this green business plan right from the start made it easy for Kind Living to capitalize on relevant incentives and cost savings. As the project evolved, unanticipated benefits were revealed.

As a business that earned high scores on almost every eco-category in the Explore Lake Simcoe assessment, Kind Living left no stone unturned during the renovation. During the demolition of the original structure, a trailer was purchased to haul materials to the appropriate reuse or recycling facility. The effort to divert as much material from landfill as possible required some labour and time, but came with payoffs. When building materials were diverted from landfill, disposal fees were reduced. Some materials were incorporated into the décor for the studio—one beautiful example being the use of a corrugated roof an old shed that is now used as a counter front in the business office. Material was also sourced from others that were looking to avoid landfilling perfectly good items. The kitchen boasts a commercial-sized sink that was reclaimed from another business. Not only did diversion of materials reduce disposal costs, it also created revenue. Metal and copper removed during the building renovation was sold, and therefore paid half the initial cost of the utility trailer.

Seeking an efficient heat source that provided an even heat to provide optimum comfort in the studio, Kind Living chose in-floor heating. Although the cost of the boiler to heat the water that streams through the in-floor pipes was significant, Kind Living is quickly making up the costs through monthly savings on heating bills. Insulation is an important piece of the heat efficiency puzzle, and walls meet R40 standards, while ceiling insulation meets R50 standards. Similarly the initial investment in LED lighting and water efficient fixtures will pay off over time.

Outdoors, the driveway is gravel to allow maximum water infiltration. No pesticides or chemicals are used, and plans for local bee-friendly xeriscape gardens are in the works. When it comes to snow and ice removal, a sand/salt mix is used improve effectiveness and reduce salt concentrations that could eventually end up in the lake.

But the environmental commitment doesn’t stop with these large-scale efforts. Cleaning materials, toilet paper and an absence of disposable water bottles reflect the ecological ethic of the studio. For example, recycled content toilet paper was not good enough—the paper in use at the studio is 100% recycled content, a product that took a bit of work to find.

Just as the time invested to practice yoga regularly pays off with both short and long-term health benefits, an investment in a sustainable business plan requires time upfront but comes with many benefits.

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