As people retreated into their homes to shelter from COVID-19 over the last three months, the environment flourished in our absence. Air pollution levels dramatically dropped, smog-covered mountains and skylines became visible, and wild animals took over the empty streets in cities all over the world.
As Canada slowly reopens its economy, we as consumers have an opportunity to change our lifestyle habits to prevent the environment from its continuing decline. Here are 11 awesome, women-led sustainable businesses you should support to direct a sustainable post-COVID economic recovery.
Formerly branded as LunaPads, Period Aisle is a certified B corp founded by Vancouverites Suzanne Siemens and Madeleine Shaw to make periods a waste-free monthly experience. The average woman uses five to 15 thousand pads or tampons in her lifetime–a huge amount of plastic waste. Period Aisle aims to eliminate that by providing menstrual cups, reusable cloth pads and panty liners, and size-inclusive, period-proof undies.
Did you know that the fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world? To support the circular economy and combat throwaway culture, Irina McKenzie founded FABCYCLE, a B2B textile waste collection service, to divert apparel waste from entering landfills. Irina runs FABCYCLE’s reuse centre, which sells these usable fabrics to the Vancouver creative community of artists, designers, and fashion students, and holds regular clothing repair workshops at various VPL locations.
Look no further for sustainable (and cute!) intimate wear. Azura Bay’s founder Ashley McIntosh has curated a collection of size-inclusive lingerie and loungewear made with organic, recycled, and upcycled materials and ensured your purchases will be shipped to your home in low-waste packaging. Azura Bay is committed to supporting girls’ rights and environment restoration, so for every purchase, customers can choose one of three organizations for Azura Bay to donate their proceeds to.
Natural beauty fans, this is for you. Ellie Bianca’s sustainably-sourced and cruelty-free skincare products were inspired by founder Evelyne Nyairo’s Kenyan heritage, her daughter, and the resilience of women in her community. Evelyne created the Ellie Bianca Woman Scholarship to help fund single mothers pursuing post-secondary education.
Move over, Sephora. Created by Quebec-born Julie Michaud, Portia-Ella is redefining contemporary beauty in an ethical light. As Canada’s top clean beauty retailer, they carry brands created by over 50 female Canadian entrepreneurs (including the much-loved Elate Cosmetics). You can order online or visit their Kelowna or Winnipeg outlets.
Jennifer Harper founded Cheekbone Beauty with the aim of empowering Indigenous youth and creating a space for them in the beauty industry. Not only does Cheekbone Beauty’s cosmetics “make you feel good and highlight your favourite characteristics”, they are also cruelty-free, vegan, and low-waste with the goal of becoming zero waste. 10% of profits are donated to fund the education of Canadian First Nations youth.
If you love handmade and ethical jewellery, you’ll love Foe and Dear. The shop offers several collections of ceremonial and everyday jewellery made with fair trade, recycled gold and conflict-free gemstones, as well as eco-friendly hair accessories. Book an appointment with founder Katherine Schlattman and she’ll help you design your dream engagement ring.
NADA is a certified B corp grocery store and cafe founded by Brianne Miller that’s committed to environmental responsibility and supporting local food businesses. Its zero waste policy eliminates the use of single use plastic packaging and reduces excess waste through the supply chain. Leftover produce is made into daily menu items in their cafe! Check out NADA’s monthly zero waste meetups to connect with and learn from local sustainability leaders.
It’s cool to be kind (to animals and the environment); that’s why Kind Cafe boasts an all vegan and zero waste menu. Dedicated to promoting the environmentally responsible lifestyle, they have weekly in-store initiatives that encourage customers to practice zero-waste habits (Psst. Make sure to bring your own cup for coffee on Wednesdays–you’ll get one of their choco-chip tahini cookies for free).
Green Boheme is an online retailer based in Nanaimo, BC that specializes in sustainable and ethically-made home goods including bath, skincare, kitchen, and utility products. 10% of profits are donated to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).
For folks living outside of Greater Vancouver, The Refill Stop in downtown New Westminster is the place to go for zero waste body care and cleaning products. Customers bring their own containers and pay for products by weight, effectively eliminating single-use plastic packaging.
As businesses across Canada slowly re-open, let’s make sure we do our part in supporting the ones who aim to make a positive difference for people and the planet.