"A lot of people go in their backyards and try to plant vegetables and fail miserably because they don't know what they're doing, especially if they don't want to use synthetic chemicals, and most people don't," said Totino. "It's always helpful to reach different people and the more people who have access to these resources, the better."
Totino's rise to small business owner was an evolution, she said, with her originally owning an organic lawn care business and wanting to take it a step further our of frustration. Now her retail showroom features sustainable nontoxic interior finishes, organic and sustainable lawn and garden products and a small selection of home accessories and gifts.
"When I started the lawn care company, I was frustrated that people didn't have a choice and I thought people might make different choices if they were educated about the danger of pesticides on their lawn," said Totino. "I'm hoping to shape people's behavior. I can educate them but if they don't have the products or resources, it's not helpful to implement change, so this is trying to cover two bases at once."
Totino said she wasn't always so environmentally conscience and didn't grow up in a household that was focused or even thinking about living organically. It was when she started her own family that she started making choices on her own and she wants others to consider them too.
"I think people should consider [sustainability] for their own personal health and their family. Products are usually a higher quality and last longer than something that's toxic and cheaply made. I think people will be surprised that they don't really have to sacrifice aestheticsand things aren't expensive as they think," said Totino.
Green Conscience Home and Garden has a Facebook fan page, a newsletter and a Web site, www.green-conscience.com, for people to stay up to date on events. Totino said she also plans to more regularly update the Web site's blog over the summer to provide even more information and assistance outside the store.