Based in Vancouver, Canada, LUSH Handmade Cosmetics’ mission is to make effective products from fresh organic fruit and vegetables, the finest essential oils, and safe synthetics. The cosmetics company purchases ingredients only from companies that do not conduct or commission tests on animals, and they only test their products on humans. Furthermore, LUSH invents its own products and fragrances, making its products fresh by hand using little or no preservative or packaging and using only vegetarian ingredients.
The company’s inventors started making products by visiting farmer’s markets and flower shops, bringing their fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers back to their labs, and infusing them into their newest inventions. In fact, LUSH has its own ingredient encyclopedia called LUSHopedia. LUSH keeps track of all of the ingredients it uses in its products and lists them alphabetically in LUSHopedia (from African marigold oil to zinc oxide).
In addition to using as little packaging as possible, LUSH’s commitment to environmental stewardship includes finding ways to eliminate waste. The company works hard to ensure that the majority of its output from making and transporting products is recycled, composted, or re-used. Also, LUSH makes it a priority to use ingredients that are produced in a sustainable way. In keeping with this fresh, eco-friendly philosophy, LUSH uses almond and olive oil—not mineral oil—partly because the company thinks (as they state on their website) that “fields of trees make our lives much richer than oil fields.”
By the numbers: Just this year at LUSH, responsible buying of recycled supplies for the company’s administrative offices helped save over 300 trees; 511,363 liters of water (135,000 gallons of water); and 675 gallons of oil. Moreover, LUSH’s responsible buying also helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28,000 CO2 equivalents. Thus, LUSH’s commitment to environmental stewardship has had and continues to have a significant, positive impact on the environment.
To visit LUSH’s website, click here.
To peruse the complete list of ingredients LUSH uses in its products, click here.
To learn why LUSH made the 2014 list of Canada’s Greenest Employers, click here.
Although Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery is located in Abbotsford, BC, its real roots can be traced to the Silver Hills Guest House wellness resort in the Okanagan Valley of BC. The Silver Hills Guest House purports the benefits of a vegan-friendly diet as a means of achieving a healthy and holistic lifestyle. Not long after the wellness resort opened in 1989, the resort staff discovered that they were unable to find wholesome, all-natural bread that fit their vegan dietary values. Brad Brousson, who was on the wellness resort staff at the time and who later became co-founder of Silver Hills Bakery, recalled a way of baking bread that his mother had taught him using sprouted grains. Silver Hills decided to make its own unique sprouted bread; the demand for the Silver Hills sprouted bread grew; and Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery was born.
The process of sprouting grains consists of cleaning, rinsing, and soaking the grains in water until they begin to sprout. This process allows the grains to release their valuable nutrients. Silver Hills Bakery then mashes the sprouted grains into dough that is used to make their specialty sprouted bread.
Silver Hills’ bread is healthy in a number of ways: The bakery’s products are organic, vegan, gluten-free and free of GMOs (genetically modified organisms). The Silver Hills production facility is certified organic by QAI (Quality Assurance International), an independent regulatory agency. Also, the Silver Hills staff regularly tests all ingredients for GMO contamination, which means that the customer can be certain that no GMO ingredients will ever be used in Silver Hills products or sold in their retail store outlet.
In order to understand what makes a product non-GMO, general knowledge of what makes a product a genetically modified organism is required. GMOs are plants and animal species created through gene splicing or biotechnology (also referred to as genetic engineering). Most genetically modified plants were created to be resistant to pesticides and extreme temperature ranges (such as drought) for the purposes of improving nutrition and producing higher crop yields. Advocates for the GMO movement declare that GMO crops are more nutritious than non-GMO crops. Moreover, they argue that GMO crops are environmentally beneficial and aid in addressing world hunger. In many cases, however, GMO crops have demonstrated the opposite of these intended effects; they have instead raised many questions about consumer and environmental safety. In the United States and in Canada, governments have approved GMOs for use based primarily on studies conducted by the companies that created the GMOs (companies that will, subsequently, obtain profits from their ongoing sale and distribution).
A number of crop strains are deemed to be at risk of being GMO (because they have, at some point, been bio-engineered). These include alfalfa, canola, corn, papaya, flax, rice, oil, yellow summer squash, soy, zucchini, and sugar beets. The bread-making industry often uses ingredients derived from these risk crops, such as citric acid, flavorings, sucrose, amino acids, sugar, yeast products, vitamins, and vegetable oil. Animal byproducts such as meat, eggs, milk, honey, and other bee products are at risk as well due to potential contamination from feed and other input factors. Wheat itself wasn’t considered an at-risk crop until the discovery of GMO wheat in an Oregon field in May 2013.
As a part of its mission of promoting a healthy lifestyle, Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery joined the non-GMO movement. Silver Hills uses only non-GMO ingredients. These include amaranth, apples, barley, buckwheat, hemp, khorasan wheat, oats, millet, pumpkin seeds, rye, quinoa, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, whole grains, and spelt (a grain that is higher in protein than wheat).
To visit the Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery website, click here.
To learn more about GMOs and the non-GMO movement, and to read a list of companies that have joined the non-GMO movement, click here.
Established in 2009 by United We Can, enterprising nonprofit Sole Food Street Farms expanded upon the United We Can goal to create employment for inner city residents who have multiple barriers to traditional employment. Sole Food founders Michael Ableman and Seann Dory not only wanted to increase employment in lower income Vancouver neighbourhoods; they also wanted educate employees and communities in general about sustainability and the benefits of fresh produce.
Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is known for high rates of poverty, drug use and sex trade activity. The founders of Sole Foods scoped out this area because they saw its transformative potential. Dory acknowleged that “the lot we [Sole Foods] are on was a dump surrounded by an active sex trade” but that “urban agriculture projects have the potential to really change the face, the dynamics, of the city.” Sole Foods has done so and continues to do so by transforming vacant urban land into street farms that grow artisan quality fruits and vegetables; empowering individuals by providing them with employment; and building a supportive community of farmers and food lovers by offering agricultural training.
Sole Food developed a system of raised moveable planters that can be stacked on a truck with a forklift and moved. This method is necessary in order to isolate the growing medium from contaminated urban soils, allow for production on pavement, and satisfy landowners who cannot make valuable urban land available on a long-term basis. Sole Food’s seeds and plant varieties are chosen based solely on taste and aesthetic quality, and all Sole Food produce is grown using the highest organic standards.
Sole Food’s fresh produce is available at farmer’s markets, local restaurants and retail outlets. “We envision a future where small farms thrive in every neighbourhood, where good food is accessible to all, and where everyone participates in the process,” says Ableman. “Sole Food is helping to fulfill this vision by marrying innovative farming methods with concrete social goals.”
To visit the Sole Food Street Farms website, click here.
To read The Canadian Organic Grower’s 2011 article on Sole Food Street Farms, click here.
In addition to being one of Canada’s most successful integrated media and entertainment companies, Corus Entertainment has received accolades such as being among the 2013 list of Canada’s Greenest Employers and the 2013 list of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. The company owns 39 radio stations and delivers numerous television services, and it does so in a sustainable way.
Corus Quay, the new Toronto headquarters for Corus Entertainment, has implemented a number of eco-friendly initiatives. The building is accessible by public transportation, and the company encourages sustainable forms of transportation by offering 75 tenant-exclusive bicycle racks. Moreover, Corus Entertainment has taken steps toward water and energy conservation. The company has installed low-flow water fixtures throughout the building and a rooftop cistern that collects rainwater, initiatives that have resulted in Corus Entertainment reducing water consumption by upwards of 30%. A Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) system has been installed throughout the interior of the building, which consists of occupancy sensors that provide light only when someone is present and a daylight harvesting technique that dims the ballasts when natural light is abundant. These system features have reduced the amount of energy required by the lighting system by upwards of 30%. Energy efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment that is programmed based on solar exposure, location, occupancy, and space utilization has also been installed in the building. Also, carbon dioxide sensors have been installed to measure the approximate number of occupants in a particular area at any given time—information that is used to determine the exact amount of ventilated air required in a specific area, thereby reducing the amount of energy required for the HVAC system.
During the Corus Quay construction process, more than 75% of construction waste was diverted from landfills by salvaging materials for reuse and recycling. In addition, upwards of 20% of the materials used in the construction of Corus Quay’s interiors were made from recycled content, reducing the amount of energy required in the production of the materials. Upwards of 10% of the materials used were both extracted and manufactured locally. The wood wall treatment in the Orientation and Atrium space is reclaimed hemlock from a 1910 ferry terminal wharf in Toronto Harbour. The use of local goods and materials promotes the growth of local businesses and reduces the energy required to transport materials and products to the construction site.
Corus Quay features green rooftops that help reduce the heat-island effect. It also features a five story biowall in the Atrium. The plants that compose the biowall naturally clean the air and reduce energy consumption, improving air quality in the building.
To visit the Corus Entertainment website, click here.
To learn more about Corus Entertainment’s sustainability initiatives, click here.
The name speaks for itself: Nature’s Path is a company based in Richmond, BC that sells healthy, organic foods, specifically breakfast foods. However, Nature’s Path is more than a manufacturer and distributor of organic foods; it is also a company that aims “to advance the cause of people and planet, along the path to sustainability.” The Nature’s Path team has done so by signing the Sustainable Food Trade Association’s Declaration of Sustainability in 2008. The Sustainable Food Trade Association measures companies under the Declaration of Sustainability according to a number of factors, including: 1). Organic and land use; 2). Distribution and sourcing; 3). Energy use; 4). Climate change and air emissions; 5). Water use and quality; 6). Solid waste reduction; 7). Packaging and marketing materials; 8). Labor; 9). Animal care; 10). Sustanability education (internal and external); 11). Governance and community engagement.
Nature’s Path’s sustainable and environmentally friendly accomplishments are numerous. Nature’s Path has been able to divert 92% of its waste from landfills; reduce the use of electricity, paperboard, and C02 per pound of product shipped; empower employees to take ownership of sustainability and green initiatives through Self Directed Work Teams; and keep 204,000 pounds of chemical pesticides out of the soil. In addition, Nature’s Path has launched a program called ‘Bit4Bite’ that has commited $1 million to North American food banks, and the company has donated $2 million in cash and food to the hungry.
To visit the Nature’s Path website, click here.
To read a comprehensive list of Nature’s Path’s sustainable practices, click here to view the 2011 Nature’s Path Sustainability Report.
To learn more about the Sustainable Food Trade Association’s Declaration of Sustainability, click here.