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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Infinately Better Hardware

Better Hardware

A local business helps hardware stores help you “green it yourself”

Picking out a weekend to attempt that deep-down spring clean in your space? Keep last month’s Earth Day resolutions in mind and attempt a squeaky-clean break from household products doing more harm than good. Luckily, we realize that wandering aimlessly among the paint, sealant and cleaners may have you wondering if there are any virtuous shelf mates adjacent to conventional toxic items.

Enter Plan-it Hardware — a hip-to-the-times startup that deals in eco-evangelism and strategies for socially conscious marketability — implemented one local hardware store at a time. The outfit connects their small but growing worldwide base of naturally minded producers of hardware items with independent home improvement retailers, of which there are thankfully still many in the Bay Area.

With help from Plan-it Hardware’s golden Rolodex of green suppliers, mom-and-pop institutions like Cliff’s Variety in San Francisco and Bolfing’s Elmwood Hardware in Berkeley are now providing products that are exotic or completely unknown to “Big Box” home improvement centers.

“For a lot of these folks who’ve had a store in their hands for forty years or more, they are already thinking about leaving behind a legacy,” says Jay Tompt, Plan-it’s VP of green business development. “This way they spur a positive legacy while realizing that going green isn’t that scary.”

In the past, Tad Laird of Elmwood Hardware found stocking eco-savvy goods more elitist than intimidating. With retail space at a premium, the price of carrying these well-meaning items was not right for many small businesses. “As a 4th-generation Berkeleyan, though, not caring is not an option,” says Laird. And Plan-it Hardware’s way with the supply chains helps keep orders of biodegradable trash bags and Planet Inc.’s line of cleaners and paper goods coming in more frequently.”

Sourcing natural solutions locally is exciting, and Plan-it Hardware aims to please. They spread the word about products developed right here in the Bay Area, too. Drainbo, a non-toxic drain cleaner by a company of the same name, and Homewood, specializing in biodegradable stains and surface polishes, are manufacturers out of Livermore and San Carlos, respectively.

These are just some of the gentler alternatives that could replace the sinister skull-and-crossbones-laden bottle of goo presently lurking under your sink. For information on available products and local stores where you can turn over a new leaf with your spring cleaning, visit

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