Earth Day has come and gone, and many of us have renewed our commitment to do our part for the environment.
If you sometimes feel overwhelmed to make “good” choices consistently and you find yourself straying from your goals to live more sustainably, here are a few eco tips/simple guidelines to help you stay on track:
1. Shop & support local
Buying from our favourite small businesses in the neighbourhood helps our economy, our community and is better for the environment.
It requires less packaging and minimizes carbon emissions from transportation or shipping.
2. Start small & keep it simple
Do what you can!
Choose one action to start with, one step at a time, e.g. bringing your own bags for groceries.
Add to it once it becomes a regular habit.
3. Choose organic and fair or direct trade
Businesses with these certifications and practices ensure transparency and accountability, so you know their products were made with people and planet in mind.
4. Use eco-friendly alternatives
Plastic is everywhere, but we can replace it whenever possible by using reusable bags, cups or straws instead. Bring your own containers and bottles to shops with refill options.
5. Support businesses that share your values
Buy from businesses committed to taking climate action through carbon offsetting, and that invest in conservation and capacity building projects in communities most affected by climate change.
6. Progress over perfection
Nobody’s perfect and it would be unrealistic to expect ourselves to become the “perfect environmentalist” overnight (it doesn’t exist anyway).
Sustainability is a personal journey that will look different for everyone, depending on their means and circumstances. All we can do is the best we can for now until we know, and can do, better.
Founder of Ottawa-based Good Choice Initiative, Noelle Le Conte-Good takes us through her own path, taken with one small step after the other.
Sometimes, the desire to be an eco citizen can feel like a bigger responsibility than we know how to handle.
Almost exactly two years ago, I had a similar feeling. I was on a beach in Bali, which was littered with plastic in varying shapes and sizes – an orphan flip flop, a doll, straws and food wrappers, to name a few. It was a visual reminder that anything that has ever been made of plastic still exists in some form on Earth today, in our landfills, in the ocean and in our streets.
I remember wanting to pick up the infinite pieces of plastic, but I felt too overwhelmed to start. I wouldn’t have felt good about not doing anything at all. After two hours of gathering trash, I knew I’d only scratched the surface of our global plastic pollution problem. Still, I felt proud of this little victory. I had almost filled up a big garbage bag when eight other people added their findings to my pile. Without me asking for help, these total strangers had wanted to contribute to my efforts - that was the power of impact through collective action.
I realized then I didn’t have to be on the other side of the world to start making a difference.
I was inspired to create a similar community of like-minded people closer to home, which led me to launch Good Choice Initiative in 2020. In my personal experience and speaking with people in my network, I’ve often found information about making ethical and sustainable choices to be overwhelming or confusing. I wanted to offer a hub with resources and information as a solution for conscious consumers in the Ottawa area and to connect them with local businesses that share their social and environmental values.
On Good Choice Initiative’s directory, you’ll find social enterprises, women and BIPOC-owned businesses with sustainable and ethical products and services that align with what you believe in. I’m proud to include Pokoloko and their artisan-made handcrafted and fairly-traded goods, and to feature 100+ local businesses that care about the same things we do.
That’s why I appreciate eco friendly alternatives that are accessible and easy to use.
I love Pokoloko’s fairly traded bamboo straws made by Balinese artisans. They come in a pack of 6 with a pipe cleaner and are perfect for my favourite cold drinks (like homemade lemonade or iced coffee) while I dream of warm summer days. Every straw has a story to tell, each one with a clever or inspiring message as a reminder to take small consistent action.
Their versatile and multi-use eco mesh bags are a great zero waste and plastic free alternative made from 100% certified organic cotton.
They come in a pack of 4 different sizes and are ideal for storing produce or shopping, especially at Ottawa Farmer’s Markets for fresh locally-grown food, or even for packing clothes for whenever we can travel again!
Whether you’re making individual choices or supporting a community of like-minded businesses, every action matters.
Make yours count!