Green Businesses

Hop on the eco-bandwagon with a green business to lessen the environmental impact of your next event.

Canada’s first carbon-neutral same-day courier, Novex in Richmond-B.C., boasts impressive green initiatives: a fleet of hybrid cars, natural gas vans, biodiesel freight vehicles and Canada’s first licensed 100 per cent electric-powered trucks; plus paperless billing and payment options, and a Bullfrog-powered office. Says Ken Johnston, president, “We manage by the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. Every business decision we make is considered in light of the environment.”

In Toronto’s west end blooms My Luscious Backyard, six residential front and backyards brimming with ambrosial organically grown, seasonal flowers—perfect for your next event. Farmed by eco-warrior Sarah Nixon, neighbouring residents get free beautiful gardens in exchange for their space. “The environmentally aware are thrilled, and my business mode excites a lot of people,” says owner and founder Nixon, whose flowers are all chemical pesticide-, herbicide-, fungicide- and fertilizer-free.

Corporate Team Builder
Motivating groups of eight to 1,000-plus, the Green Team Eco Challenge by Canadian Outback Adventures & Events with offices in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, pits teams against each other by tapping into their enviromentality. Groups perform teambuilding green tasks like random acts of enviro-kindness and organic taste tests. Says Sarah Newton, manager of Custom & Creative: “We want our clients to walk away feeling more connected to their team, the environment and the world around them.”

Put green where your group’s mouths are—literally. Says Dana Ewart, co-founder and co-owner of Joy Road Catering in Penticton, B.C., “No steam tables, chaffing dishes of grey meat or troughs of wilting salad here. People hire us to show guests the bounty and beauty our valley offers.” Customized, multi-course menus and gourmet rustic BBQs are de rigueur, as are local, sustainable, organic and seasonal ingredients delivered by biodiesel-powered vans.

Event Planner 
“Engaging in sustainable practices isn’t just good business, it’s also part of our corporate social responsibility,” says Phil Ecclestone, CMP, vice-president and event manager, Golden Planners Inc. (GPI). Since 1989, Ottawa-based GPI has been redirecting leftovers to social-service agencies, encouraging clients to choose Green Key hotels and carbon offsets. GPI walks the green walk because “it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s trendy.”

Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland in St. John’s is the only hotel in Eastern Canada to receive the Hotel Association of Canada’s much-coveted 5 Green Key rating. The property’s planet-saving initiatives include: LED and sensor lighting, water-conserving fixtures; donating extra linen to a women’s centre and discarded sheets to the SPCA. “Making green choices has become second nature. Our green initiatives are an example of what’s possible when everyone’s committed to a common goal,” says Danny Tobin, executive housekeeper.

LEED Gold certified, the Centre for the Built Environment (CBE), Nova Scotia Community College, Waterfront Campus in Dartmouth offers classrooms, a theatre, a gallery and an atrium for 15 to 150 people. State-of-the-art details include a green roof, solar thermal panels and interior living walls (floor-to-ceiling plants), doubling as natural air filters. “Clients are surprised by some features, which turns out be an educational opportunity for them,” says Sylvie Lavoie of administrative services. “We are the future for learning environments.”

Eco-consumerism = global sustainability
Carrotmob is a non-profit, grassroots movement where consumers use their collective spending strength to encourage local businesses to improve their environmental initiatives. Groups of participants show up at the business that pledges to make the biggest eco-impact, and pull out their wallets en mass. Omar Mutashar, founder of Vancouver’s Carrotmob, staged a mob last May for Salt Spring Coffee, where 110 per cent of the day’s revenue went to installing energy-efficient lighting. “It’s easy, and I encourage everyone to try it in their community.” Translation to your biz? Think eco-activism with suppliers. Include a section in your forthcoming RFP asking, “What percentage of our business will you put into environmental initiatives?”

By Jennifer D. Foster

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