Glenn and Myrna Gorham traveled, renovated their home to be energy efficient and spent time with their 17 grandchildren, but they still wanted to do something more in their retirement.
“Our grandchildren are learning about recycling and the environment and we have always been fairly aware of our responsibility to the world. My husband’s job in property management took us to live in Lebanon, England and Australia and we saw that the we are all neighbours and what we do in the world does make a difference,” said Myrna, a retired nurse.
Glenn, who is also a square-foot gardening certified instructor, said, “I remember looking at the Mediterranean in Beirut and seeing all the plastic litter. People didn’t seem to be aware that it was going to be there forever.”
The couple thought it might be fun to start a little business that focussed on their environmental concerns and began to come up with ideas. A lot of research later, they came up with the idea of making a line of washable, reusable and PVC-free shopping bags.
“We had so many questions ourselves and we learned so much as we worked with suppliers and manufacturers in Canada and China,” said Myrna.
The Savvi Tote, a large bag with an insulated compartment is meant for shopping, but Myrna finds people are using it for picnics and travel as well.
The grocery bag, Savvi Sac, comes in a compact pack. The six-compartment bottle bag can carry wine, milk, things for the beach, extra shoes, hats and gloves, or, as Myrna uses it, for her knitting supplies. There are also washable mesh bags for produce.
“It’s been quite an adventure getting all the information and making the decisions about the fabric and colours and shipping,” said Glenn.
Myrna is particularly pleased with the colours of the bags: pomegranate, pistachio, chocolate, teal and ginger.
“I am going to be using shopping and other bags anyway so I want them to be pretty,” she said.
“These are the kind of things you never knew you needed and once you’ve got them, you don’t know how you lived without them. We’ve had a very good response. When we are out with them, people always ask where we got them. This is like nothing we’ve ever done before. It’s very exciting.”
The 4R Planet products are registered with 1% for the Planet, and give one per cent of gross sales to the organization. They can choose which earth-friendly organizations to support and will probably be doing something with trees and greening.
“We really appreciated the people we met here in Vernon who helped us with their ideas and information about printing, customs, shipping and even colour choices,” said Myrna. “It’s been a pleasant journey to a place we never expected to go to. And we feel we’re doing our little part for the planet and for our children and grandchildren.”
The Gorhams would like to see the bags used as school fundraisers or business gifts since they can also do private labels on the products.
“I would say that if people, retired or not, have a good idea, they should try to find a way to go for it,” said Glenn.
The Gorhams join other entrepreneurs, crafters, and home-based businesses at the Shoparama Spring Market April 2, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and April 3, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Vernon Recreation Complex. Admission is free, however people are invited to bring a non-perishable food item for the food bank.
For more information on 4R Planet, visit www.4rplanetproducts.com.