We all seem to see another fact, statistic or story about climate change and it’s detrimental effects on every corner, and it is easy to feel as if you cannot do anything to help with a problem that seems so massive. It is easy to get discouraged, but even though some alternative stores and markets are not a one size fits all fix for the sustainability crisis we are all facing, it is always important to do our best to support businesses and practices that are campaigning for the cause. Here are 6 businesses and practices to look into if you are wanting to reduce your ecological footprint and work towards a more sustainable future.
Seed is a Canadian clothing company based in Cochrane, Alberta, doing their part to campaign for sustainability in the fashion industry. Seed likes to function on an admirable set of rules for their products, ensuring that they are locally made, created from natural fibres, comfy, and last but not least--look good! Seed is very proud to be locally sourced and produced and knows the powerful impact local shopping can have. Not only does shopping local help stimulate the economy of your local area, but it can also drastically reduce your carbon footprint. In addition to this, Seed realizes that after a shopping spree, your trash can always becomes full of plastic tags and bags. To counteract this, they created the very special “Seed Bracelet,” as a part of their “No Packaging!” movement. Instead of tossing your tag in the trash, you can reuse the colourful slip as a bookmark! This unique tag is also styled with a dragon blood jasper stone--which sounds daunting--but is actually a symbol of ecological awareness, stability, and peace. So next time you are thinking of buying a cute outfit or gift card for a friend, maybe think about gifting Seed's signature antidote pants or any of their other wonderful creations.
This business might be a bit more well known than some others in this feature, but Patagonia constantly proves that big businesses are not always the enemy of sustainability. Patagonia uses a self-imposed earth tax to keep themselves accountable, using this money to support non-profit organizations campaigning for environmental reform and sustainability. The business also has ties with global sports activists, who represent Patagonia’s ideals by promoting positive change in their platforms. Along with promoting their cozy, stylish and ethically made clothing on their business page, they also feature activism videos and articles to keep their customers and communities up to date with inspiring movements taking place across the globe. If you are thinking of cozying up next to the fire or hitting the waves this summer, Patagonia has you covered with all season ethically created fashion that is sure to impress!
3. Carbon Environmental Boutique
Not everyone can afford locally sourced and ethically made clothing products, but there are always ways to interact with other businesses in your community doing their part in the sustainability movement. Carbon Environmental Boutique is an Edmonton based business that fights to take care of their customers along with the planet. They were launched in 2001, and since then have worked to provide their community with eco-friendly means of consumption. They offer a very unique service, one that focuses on refills. We are used to finishing a tube of toothpaste, a bottle of shampoo, or a container of soap--and then tossing the plastic waste out. The Carbon Environmental Boutique offers to refill these products for you so that you don’t have to toss out plastic packaging, altering what they like to call, “the product life cycle.” The store itself is wind powered and strives to provide low carbon footprints at a low price, offering everything from soaps to cleaners, fabrics and home decor!
4. Farmers' Markets
Not every community has a specialty eco store or a locally sourced boutique, but the time honored tradition of a farmers' market is sure to pop up on most street corners across the globe. Not only are items often less heavily packaged and processed, you can severely lessen your ecological detriment while supporting business owners and creators in your area. Farmers' Markets provide an opportunity to local suppliers who cannot afford to open full businesses and shops, and often provide you with fresh, organic items that have not been treated with GMO’s. The prices at farmers' markets often tend to be very reasonable, and the social experience provides a great community atmosphere that fosters local connected-ness. So when summer rolls around, think about popping by your community market, but keep social distancing precautions in mind while checking out the locally sourced and affordable produce!
5. Produce Bags
We've probably all heard of markets and ethically sourced clothing outlets, but produce bags are a lesser known weapon in the fight towards sustainable purchasing. Whenever we shop for fruit or vegetables, we tend to use up half a dozen plastic bags to hold our lettuce and tomatoes. You can actually buy produce without a bag and then clean it at home with apple cider vinegar and hot water, but for the sake of ease--sustainable produce bags are always an option. These bags can be made of mesh, burlap, muslin, and other biodegradable fibres, and provide a great alternative to the surplus of plastic used at supermarkets. You can often purchase these at your local grocery, and they pose to be an environmental and economic investment as many grocers now include a fee for plastic bags in an attempt to cut down on waste.
6. Recycling Right
This is my favourite set of tips for working towards a more sustainable lifestyle, and one most people are not fully informed about. Most people practice recycling, putting our cans and plastics in our blue bags and putting them out once a month, or bringing them to eco-stations or depots. It may seem simple, but there is more to this process than you would think. For example, one trick in this process includes label removal. If you don’t take the time to remove the labels from your cans--they can’t always be recycled. Some plants use a heating process to remove labels, but it is always best to be certain and remove them yourself. In addition to this, it is always essential to remember to rinse your bottles, cans and containers before sending them out--as some recycling places do not accept unrinsed products. Additionally, you should also always remove the lids of your items to save the hardworking recycling employees the hassle.
This definitely is not a complete road map for the journey to a sustainable future, but it is certainly a start. Beyond this advice, it is always important to do your own research when shopping, which helps you to find out the practices and processes of the stores you visit and see what they are doing to better their customers and their planet. Try to use alternates when you can to cut down on plastic waste and excess garbage, and make a plan to support local businesses whenever you can. We all know that the restrictions and guidelines the international pandemic has imposed on our world have caused us to look at shopping and business a bit differently, but when industries start opening up more, it wouldn’t hurt to visit your local boutique or market to sustainably meet your needs.