We live in an age of growing awareness of humanity’s impact on the environment, and of our vital role in preserving it. As consumers, we have accepted the concept of personal responsibility and are putting pressure on companies to do the same. We understand that change takes time, so we must support corporations that demonstrate a clear plan to achieve environmental sustainability.
We value kindness in all shapes and forms, and compassion toward Nature holds just as much value as compassion toward others. The following 12 Canadian companies represent a diverse array of industries, yet are connected by their commitment to the environment. Through the sourcing of their materials, innovations in their technologies and production processes, structure of their supply chains, or the various projects undertaken to offset their environmental impact, these companies stand as inspirational examples of sustainability and its holistic possibilities. Go Canada!
Brave Soles is a woman-owned brand of sustainable footwear and accessories that uses upcycled tires, otherwise a major source of microplastics and toxins, to create its products. It also uses upcycled and high-quality leather obtained through ethical means from Dominican Republic, Mexico and Argentina. The company focuses on fair trade and collaborates with everyone contributing to each stage of production. On the road to full sustainability, Brave Soles is working to reduce its environmental impact and has plans to use other alternative materials such as vegan leather and vegetable dyes, providing customers with more opportunities to make ethical fashion choices. You can learn more about Brave Soles’ carbon neutral journey—which implies net zero emissions of CO2 from their entire business—carbon offset projects, and transparent operations in the Green Story report on their website. While you are there, check out the counter of the number of tires they have already upcycled and prevented from going to landfill–impressive.
When the founders’ baby experienced irritation caused by regular baby products, Buck Naked Soap Company was started. They offer a wide variety of sustainable skincare products that are all-natural, vegan, handcrafted, free of any animal testing, and use minimal packaging. The brand prides itself on selecting ingredients that do not harm the consumers’ skin or the environment. The company works in partnership with, and donates a portion of all product sales to the One Drop Foundation. Through this venture, the company aims to help the foundation’s goal of making safe and sanitary water resources available to vulnerable communities around the globe, along with promoting education and resources related to hygiene, which has critical value in improving quality of life in those communities. The company also promotes the concept of “conscious consumption” by offering consumers information on mental health, intersectional environmentalism, and by championing “Buy Nothing Day” on Black Friday.
ORAKI is a woman-owned apparel brand based in Quebec that puts the ki in kindness—the name is combination of Aura (ora) + Kindness (Ki). The company has developed numerous fabrics from recycled materials including nylon, polyester, BPA-free plastic bottles, cotton, and other fabrics. The products are made in Canada and are 100 percent vegan, and cruelty-free. The company is constantly developing and improving its materials and designs while reducing its carbon footprint and creating more circular supply chains. ORAKI’s website says it all: “A pair of ORAKI pants or a sweatshirt requires 85 percent less energy and 20 percent less water to produce, while generating 75 percent less CO2 emissions than virgin man-made fabrics.” With sustainability and women’s empowerment at its core, ORAKI brings the worlds of aesthetics, comfort, and sustainability together.
Montreal-based Ecksand offers 100 percent sustainably-sourced jewelry that includes ethically-mined and conflict-free diamonds and gemstones, eco-friendly lab-grown diamonds, as well as recycled diamonds. The metals used in its products—such as gold and platinum—are 100 percent recycled as well. Handcrafted locally, the company focuses on high standards of working conditions for its employees, who create high-quality and exquisite products that will last a lifetime. The Ecksand Green Report offers consumers an insight into how Ecksand creates sustainable and ethical products in their low-emission atelier. This report highlights the company’s plans to continue their positive impact on the environment and on the communities that supply and support their business.
Ethical Bean Coffee offers fair trade, organic, seasonally sourced, and 100 percent traceable arabica coffee that is roasted at its Vancouver location. Ethical Bean is committed to better prices and working conditions for its coffee-growing partners. This includes a guaranteed minimum price for farmers and an additional “Fairtrade Premium” to be invested in their communities’ education, healthcare, and infrastructure. In order to run and maintain sustainable business operations, the company has a generous recycling program in partnership with Terracycle, which consumers return coffee bags for free coffee. Ethical Bean uses renewable natural gas and green fuel for their operations and uses fully compostable coffee pods. The company measures its carbon footprint on an annual basis through Climate Smart and is constantly working to find new ways to improve the environmental impact of its supply chain.
Brothers Dressler is a furniture design and manufacturing company based in Toronto offering made-to-order furniture and home lighting solutions with a focus on responsibly-sourced materials and waste reduction. The company uses a variety of locally-sourced wood, along with salvaged and reclaimed wood, steel, and repurposed objects from various sources. Efficient design and production processes reduce waste and form a core element of their style and craft. Their products are made-to-order, and consumers can choose from their existing catalogue or use their design services for bespoke orders. Their various designs are inspired by nature and mathematics, and are created with the goal of using available resources to their fullest potential while minimizing the need for toxic chemicals. Having collaborated with various governmental and private organizations, their furniture plays a major role in defining and embellishing the aesthetics of every room in which they are installed.
Kotn is an apparel brand based in Toronto with a core mission of creating long-lasting, high-quality, timeless and ethically-produced products. Kotn is a certified B Corporation, a verification of their commitment to transparency, social and environmental sustainability, and the ongoing maintenance of environmental business practice standards. With the 4th highest B impact score among apparel brands in North America, Kotn was voted B Corporation’s “Best for the World™” in their community category. The company uses biodegradable natural fibres sourced directly from the Better Cotton Initiative and small, family-run farms in Egypt. The company focuses on limiting waste and recycling resources, including water and materials. It uses OEKO-TEX® non-toxic certified dyes—free of harmful chemicals and safe for human use—and plastic-free packaging. The company has been giving back to the community and the environment through initiatives such as guaranteed pricing, subsidies, agricultural consultancy, and building primary schools in the Nile Delta and in Faiyum, Egypt. Kotn’s simple designs are created to last in terms of durability and style, helping to further reduce waste and pave the way for more ethical and sustainable consumption.
Cascades offers products and services related to packaging (food, e-commerce, retail, etc.) and hygiene products (paper towels, tissues, napkins, etc.). It is Canada’s largest fibre recovery company. Its products contain over 80 percent recycled fibres, and its mills are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The company has been reducing its carbon footprint in its operations, energy sources and logistics. It aims to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 and is constantly working to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, their focus is to create products which are sustainable to the end of their life cycle as well. Cascades has aligned several of its goals with the United Nations’ universal agenda for sustainable development, including the goal to purchase at least 70 percent of its materials from responsible suppliers and using 100 percent recycled or FSC certified fibres and paper. In 2021 Cascades ranked in the top 25 percent of the most environmentally responsible suppliers by EcoVadis, and in 2023 the 20th most sustainable company in the world according to Corporate Knights.
A cleantech company based in Barrie, Ontario, Cobric Chemicals provides sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions in waste recycling and management services. In addition to partnerships with provincial governments, Cobric Chemicals’ waste management services and pioneering high-temperature metal-recovery technology was recognized when it became the first company to receive an investment from the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Industry in December 2021. The company specializes in extracting metals such as zinc, nickel, and cobalt from metal industry waste, which reduces pollution and increases overall efficiency and sustainability. This makes for valuable, and ongoing, contributions toward Canada’s target of achieving a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. The company is also collaborating with various private clients and other players in the waste management industry as a part of its aim to become an industry leader through consistent innovation and development in our collective sustainability goals.
What does the number 92,303,631 mean to Tentree and its customers? That’s the number of trees planted as of Feb 1, 2023 by the Vancouver-based fashion brand. It has set a target of 1 billion trees planted by 2030. The company offers high-quality products in a variety of categories—from t-shirts to outerwear and accessories—and plants 10 trees for every item sold, as the brand name highlights. The company offers detailed explanations for their tree-planting initiatives, so that consumers can clearly understand the process and its impact. The company’s claim of having the smallest environmental footprint compared to other clothing brands is based on its use of sustainably-sourced materials in its products (including organic cotton, recycled polyester, hemp, and TENCEL, as well as sustainable packaging. In fact, the company aims to replace all single-use plastics and virgin packaging materials in its supply chain by 2023. The company strives for ethical employment conditions across all its suppliers and provides a detailed analysis of its environmental impact through GreenStep in order to increase their transparency and accountability to their customers.
Hatch is a specialty coffee roastery in Markham, Ontario that sources their coffee directly from a single-origin farm and uses a business model that fairly compensates the farmers with whom they collaborate. At the same time, they provide the farmers with resources and the expertise to improve their ability to participate in an ethical and sustainable coffee farming business. Hatch sells their coffee through various channels, including direct-to-consumer subscription packages. They understand the impact their various endeavours have on the environment and are constantly working to reduce that impact. The company acknowledges they have a distance to go before becoming truly carbon neutral, and are continuing to invest in carbon offset projects to achieve overall sustainability, including providing clean cooking stoves and water purification to Kenya, as well as planting native trees in Canada through the Grow Clean Air project.
CarbiCrete is a Montreal-based company that creates cement-free, carbon-negative concrete as a low-cost building solution to reduce greenhouse emissions. The company’s patented process uses industrial waste from steel manufacturing to replace cement as a binding ingredient, reducing the environmental impact of the cement industry, which is responsible for eight percent of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2022, CarbiCrete was one of the few Canadian companies listed in “The Global Cleantech 100”, an annual list of the most innovative cleantech start-ups expected to have a significant impact on their industries and on global markets in the coming decade. The company aims to provide a valuable tool in infrastructure development to achieve their goal of net-zero emissions.
The environment nurtures every living thing, and as the species having the most drastic impact on it, it falls on us to rethink our role. A sense of environmental responsibility on an individual level is extremely important, yet the production and delivery of goods and services has a huge environmental impact as well. Consequently, it is important for consumers to support companies that practice ethical manufacturing and consumption. Awareness of the challenges facing our environment and the measures needed to tackle them is our responsibility as consumers and citizens of this planet that sustains us.