Steel City sustainability Local businesses are making it easier to be green

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Over the last decade alone, the world has produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century. Nearly half of that plastic is only produced for a single use.

It can be overwhelming to think of all the ways we can change our habits to be a little bit greener and it can be difficult to believe that just one person can make a difference. As easy as it may be to get discouraged when reading about the effects of climate change, Hamilton businesses are making it easier to make the first step into a more sustainable lifestyle.

You can find just about everything at some Hamilton businesses looking to make an eco-friendly impact, from vintage and antique furniture, Canadian-made clothing and even plastic-free alternatives to everyday hygiene products. Not only do these stores specialize in sustainable practices, but they also make an ongoing effort to become educational sources for those within the community.

Pale Blue Dot

The Pale Blue Dot is one of the newest additions to James Street North, supplying safe, high-quality, ethically sourced and earth-friendly alternatives to plastic or single-use products in addition to vintage and antique furniture.

Founder and co-owner Mary Luciani launched the Pale Blue Dot with the belief that it can be easy for people to live more sustainably when given the opportunity to find products that help protect the environment from unnecessary waste. The team at the shop conducts extensive research into the products they sell, from the process in which they’re made, the people who make them and where they come from.

“We work with companies that share our core values,” said Luciani. “Our customers can feel confident that when they purchase an item from PBD, they’re supporting great businesses and lowering their environmental impact while doing so. We don’t bring in any products with plastic parts or plastic packaging, and we do our absolute best to work with our suppliers to reduce unnecessary packaging during shipping.”

The Pale Blue Dot is focused on bringing people everything they need to live a more sustainable lifestyle from everyday necessities like bamboo toothbrushes and compostable silk floss to pre-loved vintage and antique furniture to furnish your home. Their selection of earth-friendly products is high quality, mindfully designed, locally and ethically sourced and fair trade.

After being open for a full month, the Pale Blue Dot is now looking to become a community hub where customers can learn different ways they can contribute to a sustainable lifestyle. Starting this month, the store plans to offer different kinds of workshops to the community with topics ranging from learning different ways of using essential oils, making natural cleaning supplies and nutrition.

“One of our main goals is to become a space where people can come and learn, from us and each other,” said Luciani. “We recognize that we are all at different stages of the path to living a sustainable lifestyle, so it’s important to us that we create a welcoming, non-judgemental space.”

White Elephant

White Elephant is an independent and female-run clothing and lifestyle store co-owned by Hollie Pocsai and Jane LaBatte. Opening their brick and mortar boutique on James Street North nearly 10 years ago and since expanding to a second location in Westdale, the duo are passionate about supporting the community while providing sustainable quality goods.

With products that are independently made by artists, designers and crafters, White Elephant focuses on classic pieces that will not go out of style as seasons change. As long as a single or team of independent craftspeople makes the product, all but two of White Elephant’s clothing lines are made in Canada, reducing pollution from shipping and supporting local artists.   

“Shopping local is so important. You’re supporting people in your community, and in turn, they can continue to support the local economy,” said Pocsai.

Not only are the products sold at White Elephant supporting the local economy, but each purchase makes an impact on a global scale as well. As Poscai notes, there are several things to consider when making purchasing decisions, especially in fashion.

“Thinking critically about what kind of practices are behind your purchases is a good way to start thinking on a global scale too — questioning whether people have adequate working conditions, are getting paid fair wages, or trying to contribute less to global landfills are all good things to keep in mind.”

Small change, big impact

By making small changes within our daily routines, we can make a huge difference in our world.

“Just remember that nobody is perfect, and you don’t have to be either,” said Luciani. “Sometimes you’ll forget to ask the waiter for no straw, sometimes you’ll forget your water bottle on the kitchen counter. It’s okay, just keep trying.”

While it may take time to turn it into a consistent habit, it’s important to start small and to do what you can, where you can. Being conscious about where you are buying and who your supporting can be a great first step in living more sustainably.

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Author: Emily O'Rourke

Emily is a recent Communication Studies grad. Now you can find her in the big seat as Editor-in-Chief. She mostly talks about PR, meme culture, coffee and dogs. Emily was also voted biggest klutz in her high school's graduating class, FYI.