Science-savvy alumnae are cleaning up, naturally

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Jennifer Dowker and Chantelle Andrews want to splash a little green into your home. They are the creators of Natural Selections, an online store that features more than 300 eco-friendly products for personal care, cleaning, kids and pets.

Andrews completed Fanshawe's Science Laboratory Technology program in December 2006, and Dowker completed Fanshawe's Environmental Technology program in December 2007. The pair met through Fanshawe's peer tutoring program. "Jennifer was the only person who ever contacted me and said, 'I've got a 75 in Chemistry and I want an 80,'" laughed Andrews.

The pair have been friends ever since, and over the past year or so decided they wanted to go into business together. Natural Selections was born of a "huge" idea to create an eco-friendly department store. After making some adjustments to the original goal and developing a business plan, the idea for the one-stop eco shop was developed in September 2010. "This passion kind of evolved. It started as completely different ideas and mutated into something we really feel passionate about," said Dowker.

"Picking the products (took) months because we basically handpicked everything on the website," said Andrews. The website launched at the beginning of May this year, and the pair continue to personally test as many products as they possibly can, ensuring their customers the highest quality goods.

With their science backgrounds, Dowker and Andrews said they are not intimidated by those long strings of multi-syllabic words often found on the ingredients lists of cleaning and personal care products. They are able to look for unwanted or harmful synthetic ingredients and only choose certified natural and organic items. If they wouldn't use it in their own home, they do not sell it to their clients, they said.

Natural Selections carries products from distributors from across Canada. According to the website, "We sell certified organic, fair trade and natural cleaners, personal care products, toys, snacks and teas that will alleviate the synthetic chemical burden on our water supplies."

Andrews said the duo also strives to find as many Canadian-made products as possible, and are especially interested in carrying items made even closer to their homes in London. "That's reducing our ecological footprint for shipping. It's reducing our clients' ecological footprint as well by using these products that are made within 150 to 200 km."

At their in-home consultations and home product parties, Andrews and Dowker give out quizzes to determine the size of each partygoer's ecological footprint, and the person with the smallest one wins a prize. The women then outline ways each person can shrink their ecological impact and leave the earth a little greener for generations to come.

"Our main message is everybody making a series of small changes. A lot of people making small changes amounts to a bigger change," explained Dowker. "Even if the only thing they change this year is their cleaning products — that's less crap going into the water supply."

"People aren't going to sell their big house or their SUV," added Andrews, "but they can stop using the conventional products and switch to the products that are made locally, that are better for the environment, that put less stuff into the air and the water."

Check out the Natural Selections store online at For product reviews, updates and more, check out the Natural Selections blog at