As a local builder I have searched Austin, TX far and wide for the best: products, concepts, customer service, and values related to Sustainable (and specifically “healthy”) Home-Improvement. For me, there are three (in no particular order):
- Eco-Wise: They are the originators..having been around since 1990. The owners are knowledgeable about most things “Eco”..ranging from building materials, to baby products, to personal care. They even sell biodiesel there! Eco-Wise is centrally located in the Travis Heights neighborhood near S.Congress. The store is on the smaller side and exudes a somewhat eclectic vibe. Greatest Strengths: wisdom, experience, and community involvement.
- House+Earth: These guys have been around for a couple of years now, offering a much larger store with an extremely friendly staff. The vibe here is more high-end designer oriented. Their product focus seems to be “sustainable” building materials and cleaning products. And how can I forget their amazing wine-cork recycling program?..bottoms up! They too are centrally located, near the intersection of W.6th and S.Lamar. Greatest Strengths: professional courteous staff, elegant showroom, and community involvement.
- Treehouse: They are the new kid on the block, opening at the tail-end of 2011. Their store is by far the largest of the three, offering a wide variety of products ranging from hardware, to pet products, to garden products, to building materials, to solar panels. Just like the previous two stores, everything sold here is “sustainable” in its own way. The size and selection reminds me somewhat of a “Green” Lowe’s or Home Depot, but with a more personal and professional feel. Maybe a Home Depot/Whole Foods hybrid is a better description..anyhow you get the picture. They are south-centrally located in the West Gate Shopping Center. Greatest Strengths: product selection/availability, abundant showroom (including kitchen, bath, and lighting), and professional courteous staff.