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Three Gulfport Flea Market vendors going green

Earlier in the year, I wrote an article on the Blue Ocean Film Festival. The purpose of the festival was to raise awareness on the preservation of the ocean and its animals. The festival revealed measures humans can take to protect the environment and help create a greener world. In celebration of Earth Day and to bring awareness to the new measures being taken to preserve and protect the environment, I went out to find vendors at the Gulfport Flea Market who are attempting to create a greener environment and give back to their communities. • These three vendors are attempting to change the environment through the sale of various products.

Affinity Arts

Stephen Oliver is the mastermind and owner of Affinity Arts, a company whose key mission is to "revisit the concept of peace." At the Gulfport Flea Market, Oliver sells his T-shirts, sweatshirts and handmade tie dyes. Through his unique graphic designs, Oliver promotes peace in an effort to "Make it Right." The design, according to Oliver "is a peace sign that is listing to one side and in need of a push in the right direction, a push forward."

Not only does Oliver promote the symbol of peace on his clothes, he also uses "water based dyes and inks to minimize environmental impact." Additionally, Oliver said the purpose of his designs is to "encourage discussion of all things related to peace and that definitely includes the environment. Through discussion we can build awareness from which to take action. Issues of sea level rise and climate change have a real impact on people living around the globe and can directly impact peace. Water use and fishing and forestry practices directly impact the ability for people to peacefully coexist."

On Earth Day, Oliver displayed some apple seedlings that were sprouting inside an apple that he bit into. He planted the seedlings and plans to grow them to maturity. Oliver also plans on giving a "donation to an environmental organization." You can contact Oliver at [email protected]


Having been influenced by her grandparents and wanting to change the products that she used for her body, bath and home, Kathryn Gassaway developed Plantopia, a company dedicated to positively impacting the environment through the sale of natural, certified botanicals including soap nuts, soaps and oils.

The slogan of Plantopia is "Buy Three, Plant a Tree" because for every three-bar soap gift box sold, a tree is planted. Additionally, Gassaway says that the company's products are natural with all the packaging being "recyclable or a hundred percent post consumer products." In other words, no new trees are ever cut down to make their labels.

And "the labels are printed with soy ink so everything's biodegradable." Throughout the past two years, Plantopia has "gone to all sustainable or organic vegetable oils."

Plantopia also protects the environment by examining the products they buy before purchase. Gassaway said, for example, that they don't make a sandalwood soap or a soap with rosewood oil because "the sandalwood tree has to be over 80 to 100 years old before they cut it for the oil." Also, "the essential oil from that tree is in such high demand and is so expensive, they'll cut down half a rainforest to get to one tree." Instead, Gassaway says that Plantopia uses alternatives such as cedarwood oil that is grown here in Virginia and is "sustainable and replanted."

For people with allergies, all of Plantopia products are a great alternative. One of their signature products is Soap Nuts. Soap Nuts are a dried fruit that "looks like a little apricot," Gassaway says. "It's native to India and China. It grows in Nepal. It has natural saponins like soap, so when you put the fruit in water it lathers like soap and it's been used for thousands of years. For people who have allergies or skin sensitivities, they put 6-8 of them in the bag and can do 12-18 loads before you even switch it out." The cost is approximately 5 cents a load.

Furthermore, there is no smell. According to Gassaway, once your clothes are rinsed and dried there is zero fragrance. "The product leaves your clothes really soft so you don't have to use any fabric softener. Some people use a little OxyClean with their whites or they might spot treat, but on 98 percent of laundry it does a fabulous job. It's got really popular with young mothers who have gone back to cloth diapers. It's really high in enzymes and it works great with odors. If you recycle your grey water or like to be more conscious about what's going into our water, this is a great thing."

If you're looking to catch Plantopia, here is the schedule: On Tuesdays, Plantopia can be found at the Gulfport Fresh Market. On Wednesdays they're at the Madeira Beach Morning Market and on Saturdays they're at the Saturday Morning Market in Downtown St. Petersburg.

Dream Flea Treats

Dream Flea Treats is a daily supplement for animals. It is a liver flavored tablet, used as a treat. The supplement is given once in the morning and once at night and is an alternative to the typical flea treatments given to dogs and cats.

The treat is all natural and, according to Jerry Arden, contains "Vitamin B complex, is water soluble and pharmaceutically made here."

"Most people if they have a small dog under 30 pounds it's two tablets a day unless they're a senior or a puppy," says Arden. "You want to double the formula because their metabolism is different. Not only is it a natural alternative, it is a cheaper one, too. A 500 tablet bottle costs $32.95. On the average, if you bought a bottle of 500 for a 30 pound or under dog or cat it would average out to 2 tablets a day. A bottle of 500 is an 8-month supply and it works out to $3.33 a month."

The inspiration behind Dream Flea Treats came from the family's pet, Armani. When Armani was a puppy, he had allergies and special needs. According to Arden, "it's been a process and a long road but we've tried to find the right food, the right combinations and such that he wasn't going to have all these allergies. That led us to doing a semi raw diet for him. He's allergic to fleas, so he gets flea dermatitis if he gets bitten by a flee, hence our flea treats, which are all natural versus putting a poison in or on him every month."

Typical flea treatments are toxic because they have poisons in them that kill the fleas and ticks when they bite the animal that has been treated. The typical flea treatments can have long-term effects. According to Arden, "We're finding out more and more that it's causing pancreatic cancer, liver damage and shortening the pet's life."

Arden says the most important thing that he does every day is "educate people on using natural products on their pets versus using the quick and easy chemical."

Three Gulfport Flea Market vendors going green 04/22/15 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 6:27pm]
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