By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Who are green consumers? And what do they want?

These are two questions being hashed about by marketers and businesses around the country as Americans become increasingly conscious of wanting products that are cleaner, less-toxic, verifiably sourced, responsibly made, and reasonable in the bargain.

Green consumers, it appears, do come in peace. And while they might not speak green,  they’re willing to learn. That’s what Sarah Beatty has concluded after a few, fast and furious years in the green building and living supply business. She’s the founder and president of Green Depot stores, which is opening its seventh store this month after less than five years in the business.

“One thing that is true is that there’s a shift occurring in the marketplace, people want to know what – beyond screwing in a light bulb – they can do,” Ms. Beatty said. But they also want to pursue “their version of green.”

For Ms. Beatty, her personal first “version” of green became clear when she was pregnant with her first child nearly five years ago. She and her husband had recently had their Brooklyn apartment renovated and the kitchen floor was “bubbling” in weird ways. Being under the nesting spell that besets pregnant women, Ms. Beatty wanted the floor smoothed out before the big event. An expert was summoned, and one possible bubbling floor culprit was identified: toxic mold.

It was enough to send any expecting mom fleeing the building. Fortunately, Ms. Beatty didn’t have to. The mold didn’t materialize. The floor was fixed.  But the concept for a green buildings supply venture took root.

“It really just woke me up,” she said.  “That incident occurred at a vulnerable time in my life…I really do care about the environment and I want to make responsible decisions. But I’d never considered this in terms of health and well-being.”

Helping consumers improve their indoor air quality remains a key driving factor at the Green Depots, located online and in  Brooklyn, Stoneham (outside Boston), Newark, Philadelphia, Greenport (Long Island), Chicago and opening this month in Manhattan.

The stores offers HEPA air filters, zero-VOC paints, floor pads that don’t use noxious glues and cabinets that forego formaldehyde – reducing or eliminating toxic fumes that have been linked to respiratory health issues.

Green Depot also sells an exclusive indoor air testing kit called the Family Air Care Home Testing Kit, that allows a person to take a sample of their indoor air and have it tested by National Jewish Health, a leading respiratory hospital, to identify offending allergy triggers, such as mold spores, dust mites and pet dander. For some people with severe allergies or asthma, the $349 kit can be covered by health insurance.

The store has other offerings for consumers who want to be green in various ways. For those who want to renovate with a light carbon footprint, Green Depot sells reclaimed wood flooring and counter tops made from recycled quartz shards and also from recycled industrial waste glass. The latter, called IceStone, is made in Brooklyn.