Being green is easy at this boutique

Equita in Lawrenceville
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As Kermit the Frog says, “It isn’t easy being green.” Obviously, he’s never been to Equita, a Lawrenceville boutique specializing in “green, sweatshop-​free and Fair Trade” items. If this conjures thoughts of brown rice, scratchy, unbleached cotton and a sea of beige, rest assured: Equita is everything but.

After traveling (and working) around the world, Pittsburgh natives and sisters Amanda and Sara Parks and Amanda’s husband, Michael Solano, returned home. They fell in love with the architecture and affordability of The Ice House Artist Studios and opened Equita there.

Equita, which means “fairness” in Italian, carries home and body products. Each item has a story that will make you feel good about buying it while ensuring environmental stewardship and better lives for the producers.

Jute shopping bags made by former prostitutes in Calcutta, India, not only help to reduce plastic bag usage, but also provide these women a good profession and daycare for their children. Seventy percent of the 1.3 billion people worldwide living on less than $1 day are women. Improving their lives is a theme of many of Equita’s suppliers.

Fair trade is exemplified by Divine Chocolate. A cocoa farmers’ co-​op in Ghana has an ownership interest. So farmers are treated fairly, and a portion of the profits goes to schools, clinics and water systems for their villages.

There are environmentally friendly bath and body items that aren’t animal tested. Especially beautiful are the handmade Arghand soaps from Kandahar, Afghanistan. The 4.5-ounce bars ($7) look like marble and are rich in antioxidant-​loaded pomegranate. Equita is the sole U.S. purveyor of Nui skin care products (body butters, soaps, scrubs), which are loaded with coconut oil.

Green is good

What looks like apples are Arghand soap. A pop-​top crocheted bag is made by Escama.

One hot item is pop-​top-​crocheted bags from Escama. They’re featured at the MOMA and several Web sites, but Equita has better prices, from a $35 clutch to the $168 messenger bag.

Clothing lines for children and adults include Speesees baby clothes made with organic cotton, vegetable dyes and nickel-​free snaps that are the rage in Hollywood. While the adult-​sized canvas slip-​ons or wild latex/​organic cotton/​vegetable tanned sport shoes might not have you tossing out your Jimmy Choos, they can’t be beat for comfort!

Unique gifts range from a sturdy $46 laundry tote made from recycled juice pouches (perfect for college) to hand-​woven baskets from northern Ghana ($30), to lush, organic cotton sheets, unique jewelry, hand-​tufted wool rugs (certified child-​labor free) and colorful skirts made from vintage Hawaiian muumuus.

You’ll be hard pressed to find anything made in China, but not everything comes from exotic or Third-​World locales. The Women’s Bean Project in Denver makes chocolate-​covered coffee beans and bean soup mixes while enabling its workers to become self-​sufficient.

For closer-​to-​home items, try Sensibility Soaps from Beaver Falls. Don’t miss the post-​industrial, pre-​consumer, recycled glass products handmade by McKeesport’s Riverside Design Group. Their “Plates With Purpose” feature striking, $36 square or rectangular plates with different designs. Fifteen percent of the proceeds benefit local charities such as the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Pittsburgh Habitat for Humanity and Forbes Hospice.

If you want to shop somewhere that will make the world a better place, Equita is definitely worth the drive.

Barbara Eichenlaub

Barbara is a freelance writer living in Fox Chapel. She is an expert shopper for the best in local products and services.

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