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Spring Gillard
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Knapsack on My Back

The first thing I noticed when we drove into the parking lot at the new Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) store in North Vancouver was that it was on the edge of a park. Lynnmouth Park to be exact. Presumably, because you could buy your new gear and then wander right out into the wilderness. Then I noticed the swale on the edge of the parking lot that manages on-site storm and rainwater. The store is not connected to the municipal storm sewer. Next I noted the parking stalls themselves – some of them were restricted to hybrid/low emission and car sharing vehicles, others are reserved for electric cars. And there were four recharging stations. The building itself looked interesting too. I was curious about the many windows and the series of sloping roofs. All that and we were still in the parking lot!

I was there to replace an MEC backpack that I’d bought 12 years ago. It’s gotten pretty much daily use and only now are the insides starting to shed. The one I bought yesterday was made in Vietnam, but I don’t have to worry about sweatshop conditions in the factories. MEC, a co-operative, lest we forget, has a Social Compliance program. They participate in the Fair Labor Association and subscribe to the International Labour Organization covenants. You can read all about their ethical sourcing on their web site. With that kind of quality and fair labour practices, I am happy to spend my money there.

Inside, the store is beautiful. Turns out the lighting is mostly natural, coming from those many windows and that unusual roof, called sawtooth. There are many other green features in this LEED GOLD building including high-energy efficiency practices. MEC is also dedicated to recycling, they have gear swaps, recycle their own batteries, repair packs and jackets. Also, found out while I was there, they will no longer be printing their catalogues. That was a bit disappointing to hear, as getting the MEC catalogue in the mail was a bit like getting the old Sears Christmas catalogue when you were a kid. But that’s just the kind of conservation effort we have come to expect from a sustainability champion like MEC.

I left the store feeling like a pretty happy wanderer. Val-deri, Val-dera. Val-deri, Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Val-deri,Val-dera. My new knapsack on my back.

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