Local businesses banking on environmental sustainability

EDMONTON — Sustainability may have taken a bit of a backseat because of the pandemic as people use more single-use products, but experts say there are some positive signs as well.

Karine St-Onge is banking on it. She recently co-founded a new business, but she feels its more important now than ever.

“You bring in your own container or purchase one of ours and then indefinitely re-fill that container without purchasing a new one,” she said.

Replenish gives people a chance to purchase household or personal items without creating waste.

“I think when I became aware that what we thought was being recycled wasn’t really it became a lot harder to shop ethically at larger stores,” said Meghann Law, the other co-founder of Replenish.

They’re hoping as we learn to live with the single-use, added-waste world of the pandemic, people won’t lose sight of our future

“Climate change, over-consumption is an existential threat, and we don’t really have a choice to put it off. I don’t think there’s any value in shaming people but I do think education is important,” Law said.

“My biggest pet-peeve is packaging, and so I’m really trying to cut that out. It’s better for the environment and I can bring my own stuff, and it’s just easy,” said customer Naomi Vanhaaften.

“I think that really should be encouraged because when you examine what they’re doing, it’s moving us more towards a circular economy where you’re using but you’re not disposing,” said environmental law professor Cameron Jefferies.

Jefferies says sustainability issues may have been further marginalized because of the pandemic, but also says shopping local and a renewed connection with the outdoors are positives that have emerged.

“We see some encouraging signs with respect to the way we appreciate our natural areas, and hopefully that can start a broader conversation about larger stewardship questions of our management of protected areas and all of that.”

Small changes like this – are ones many believe will have a long-term impact.   

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