I t’s no secret that we are in the midst of a climate crisis.
To say that a focus on environmental consciousness is a trend might actually be a disservice to those who are leading the charge. For many companies, including Mighty Harvest, Hoselton Studio and etee, sustainable business practices are fundamental to their identity and to the products and services they offer.
It’s no secret that we are in the midst of a climate crisis — as illustrated by the raging wildfires, devastating floods and extreme temperatures that have continued to wreak havoc around the world. Globally, we know that serious environmental action isn’t a trend as much as it is a necessity. Climate activists are begging governments, corporations and individual people to take a stand, to make the environment a priority. That’s why more companies than ever are looking for ways to lower or balance their carbon footprints, to optimize their processes with their environmental impacts in mind, to change their materials for new, ecological options, and more.
For some companies, sustainability is their reason for being. These businesses were built from the ground up to address major environmental concerns within certain industries. This makes sense, when you consider that, according to a report released last year by Canadian marketing and research company Statista, nearly 50 percent of respondents are worried or very worried about climate change and its effects on our future. We know the time to act is now, and we hope the trend to roll up your sleeves and do your part (like the companies we’ve included here!) gains momentum in the year to come
Mighty Harvest Produce
Believe it or not, Mighty Harvest’s founder, Derrik Stevenson, was working a corporate job in compliance as recently as mid-2020. He had a passion for plant-based eating and sustainability, but he had no background in farming. And yet, fast-forward to late 2021, he is now the owner of a 3,000-foot vertical farm serving communities in and around Oshawa, Ont.
“Like many people, I lost my job toward the start of the pandemic,” says Stevenson, “and all of a sudden, I found myself with time on my hands.” This time afforded Stevenson the ability to really dig in (pun intended) to the possibility of joining the sustainable farming community. After extensive research, he secured a warehouse space and got to work, with the aim of growing fresh herbs and vegetables in a vertical indoor farming facility, to sell to consumers in the area.
“The main benefit of the farm is the fact that we aren’t trucking food from across the border. That’s one of the biggest environmental challenges with produce,” says Stevenson. The burgeoning company keeps it local, selling through the farm’s online store as well as at farmers’ markets in the summer. Customers can pick up their orders in person, or delivery is available one day a week in the designated delivery area. “We do our best to limit emissions for deliveries, keeping them as close as possible,” says Stevenson.
Mighty Harvest also doesn’t use soil to grow their crops — they’re currently using peat, and are considering other sustainable alternatives, like coco coir and rock wool. “Because we aren’t using soil, we aren’t contributing to soil deterioration, which is really becoming a news story,” says Stevenson. “It’s one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions in the world.” Vertical farms also use 90 to 95 per cent less water than conventional farming, and Mighty Harvest takes it a step further by recycling their water. “The plants take what they need and the excess goes back into our tank to be filtered. Then, we add some nutrients and send it back through the cycle,” says Stevenson. The farm, which is only staffed by Stevenson and one other farm worker, also uses reusable containers for restaurant distribution, to cut down on waste.
The early days of Mighty Harvest weren’t exactly smooth sailing for Stevenson — there was a steep learning curve, the need for substantial start-up capital and the scariness of taking on significant overhead — but he couldn’t be happier. He also looks forward to what’s in store for Mighty Harvest in years to come, but not without some caveats: “I’m not interested in having a giant facility, because that sort of defeats the purpose of this type of farming. Having more area to farm and harvest means that freshness takes a hit. Right now, we can harvest and deliver the same day, and that’s important to me.” Expansion-wise, Stevenson surmises he would open another facility of a similar size in a different location, “in order to stay as close to the customer as possible. I love being able to speak to and connect with people in the community.”
The main benefit of the farm is the fact that we aren’t trucking food from across the border. That’s one of the biggest environmental challenges with produce.
When people think about sustainability, there are likely a few sectors that come to mind — automotive, healthcare, agriculture chiefly among them. But the art world is also cognizant of environmental impacts, and many artists are taking strides to ensure that their work doesn’t add to the eco challenges our world is currently facing.
Hoselton Studio has always been ahead of its time on this front. Gordon Hoselton and Allan Butters, the founders of Hoselton, began creating sculptures out of recycled aluminum alloy using a sandcasting process in the late 1960s. Gordon’s daughter, Jan, eventually took over the business in 2003 after her father died.
In 2020, Hoselton Studio was sold to Research Casting International in Trenton. Research Casting is world-
renowned for their casting of dinosaur skeletons for some of the most preeminent museums around the globe. “The pandemic hit just when we were getting the equipment in [to Research Casting] so we were initially shut down for 10 weeks,” Hoselton told the Rotary Club of Brighton in September 2020, just four weeks after the Hoselton line was finally up and running in its new home. Research Casting has provided a dedicated team to produce Hoselton sculptures, with Jan Hoselton running sales and marketing.
Recycling aluminum alloy is important because it takes considerably less energy (about 90 to 95 percent less) than what would be required to create the same amount of metal from raw materials. Aluminum recycling is a mature industry in North America, but Hoselton’s use of the material for art is unique, making each Hoselton piece that much more impressive.
Aluminum recycling is a mature industry in North America, but Hoselton’s use of the material for art is unique, making each piece impressive.
Etee, which stands for Everything Touches Everything Else, is the best kind of “be the change” story.
Etee founder and CEO Steve Reble told Sustain magazine in 2020 a story about his grade seven teacher reading the class Dr. Suess’s The Lorax, citing that the generation of students in Reble’s class would have to be prepared to fight for the environment. This lesson stuck with Reble. Then, on a kayaking trip as an adult, the avid outdoorsman found himself bogged down in plastic garbage in the water, which flipped his vessel and “kinda killed the mood,” according to the company’s origin story on shopetee.com. Soon after, Reble began to research how plastic is affecting the planet and learned that of the 300-million tonnes of plastic created each year, only six percent is recycled. Plus, plastic doesn’t biodegrade, so all it does is become smaller particles of plastic.
But plastic isn’t easy to escape. So Reble wanted to make it easier. Enter etee, based in Oshawa, Ont. With a mission to “be the spark that ignites the flame for widespread change in the way consumer packaged goods add value for people and the planet,” Reble set out to create everyday items in reusable, renewable, biodegradable formats. The company’s line of products — which was created with simple trial and error — uses natural food preservatives, beeswax, tree resin, bamboo and more to create everything from personal care and cleaning products to laundry items and food wraps. They have even started the Plastic Free Club, which gets monthly subscribers discounts on etee’s line of products. Etee items can be purchased directly from the company or from affiliate partners.
FIVE ETEE ITEMS WE LOVE
1. Dish Cleaning Kit, $43
2. Lavender Concentrated Shampoo Bar, $12
3. Minty Vanilla Chewpaste, $14
4. Hand and Body Soaps, $22
5. Grapefruit Jumbo Mint Lip Balm, $14