We interviewed Alain Menard, founder of Green Beaver. We found out what makes Green Beaver products smell so good, which products he uses (or doesn’t use!) every day, and the coolest thing to watch in their factory.
Most conventional skincare brands have lines specially made for men and for women. Why doesn’t Green Beaver?
Yes, men and women are different but for certain things we are actually pretty similar and do not always need different products. A lot of it is marketing. For example, deodorant for men and women contain the exact same ingredients except for the scent. The only other difference between the two is the size. Women’s deodorants tend to be smaller but sell for the same price as the larger men’s version!
What is the coolest thing to see in your factory?
The tube filling machine is really cool. It makes me think of the “How it’s made” show every time I watch it work. As one tube is being aligned, another is being filled while another tube is being crimped while another is being lot coded. All at the same time!
Can organic sunscreens protect us from UV rays?
Very much. All sunscreens, natural or chemical, have to be tested the same way according to a protocol set by Health Canada. Only pre-approved specialized laboratories can do the testing. They apply sunscreens to people of different skin tones and UV zap them. They measure the amount of time it takes for their skin to get a little reddish. That is how they determine the SPF number.
How do you make your products smell so good?
The majority of our products are scented using organic essential oils. Some, like lavender, are very floral while others like vetiver is very woodsy. Sometimes we make our own blends. For certain products such as our Green Beaver Junior line for babies and kids, we use a certified organic food flavouring (the same kind you would find in organic breakfast cereals, for example). Although they are meant to be eaten, organic food flavouring also smells great. On extra sensitive skin, it’s very gentle. We are proud to buy our organic food flavouring from a Canadian flavour house called Bonnie and Don Flavours in Mississauga.
Why should someone switch to a natural toothpaste?
Fluoride is toxic. That is why conventional toothpastes contains a warning on their packaging stating to contact a poison control center should a child younger than six swallow their toothpaste. Furthermore, many toothpastes contain plastic microbeads that are made from petrol and are polluting our environment. Conventional toothpastes also contain a synthetic soap called sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, dyes, colours, etc. Yuck! I have met many people in the last 15 years that use natural toothpastes. They all have one thing in common. They could never go back to conventional toothpaste. (Agreed! You can never unknow these things!)
Is there a Green Beaver product you use every day without fail?
My daily regime includes our cilantro-mint bar soap, toothpaste, vetiver deodorant, green tea with aloe face cream and a lip balm. I do not use any of our shampoos or conditioners because I have no hair left!
Do babies and kids need different skincare products than us?
For the most part, no. A wholesome natural product should be safe enough for the whole family.
A lot of it as to do with marketing. Sunscreen is a classic example. We have been brainwashed to think that we need a sunscreen for babies, kids and one for adults. They are all the same. Actually, Health Canada or the FDA do not distinguish or approve baby, kids or adult sunscreens. They approve sunscreens – period!
The only difference between our kids and adult sunscreens is the packaging. The sunscreen lotion inside both products is exactly the same. Most parents want to buy a sunscreen for their child that says “KIDS” on the packaging, so we have a kids’ line. Of course, our sunscreens are safe for everyone.
What is the best way for a consumer to know if something is truly clean and green? We hate green washing!
Has running your skincare company changed how you eat?
We changed our whole lifestyle when we started working on developing our natural products. Not only did we stop using conventional personal care products and household cleaners, we started eating organic foods whenever available.
How did you choose “Green Beaver” as a company name and “mascot”?
My wife and co-founder, Karen, and I both wanted a name that would convey “natural” and “Canadian” thus “green” and the “beaver”. I really wanted to call the company Green Moose however Karen though that a beaver was cuter than a moose.
What provinces are leaders in purchasing your products?
Per capita, British Columbia is a step ahead when it comes to green products followed by Quebec and Ontario. As a whole, consumption of green products is increasing in all provinces.
Why do you think we should support a Canadian company as Canadians?
It’s more than just about job creation. By using our products, you are also helping to reduce the amount of pesticides being spread across our land. I would love to see more Canadian companies come out with eco-certified products using Canadian-grown organic ingredients. In addition to offering healthier products, they would also be converting conventional Canadian farm land that is currently being sprayed by pesticides to wholesome organic farm land. We, our bees and the rest of our environment would all benefit from more Canadian organic land.
What’s the most hippie thing about you personally?
I try to live off the land as much as I can. We have 6 acres where we have major big league gardens, a greenhouse, a tractor and 3 laying hens. I just finished planting 100 tomato plants last weekend. This will make a lot of tomato sauce to share!